In the 1990s, Junot Diaz enrolled in an MFA program where there was silence when it came to critical discussions of racial identity. As Diaz writes in the New Yorker, “Shit, in my workshop we never talked about race except on the rare occasion someone wanted to argue that ‘race discussions’ were exactly the discussion a serious writer should not be having.” In this sentiment, there was a refusal to truly acknowledge the lives and cultures of certain groups of people.
Instead of simply allowing his voice to be silenced, Diaz, along with a group of comrades, laid the foundations for change. As people who knew all too well that discussions of identity were not tangential to literature, but crucial to fully engaging with it, they founded a workshop “where writers of colors could gather to develop our art in a safe supportive environment.”
Diaz describes this workshop as a place where the ideas, critiques, concerns, and experiences of writers of color are “encouraged rather than ignored; discussed intelligently rather than trivialized.” This workshop is doing the important work of demonstrating that the work of writers of color need not be a mere “adjunct to Literature,” but instead, should play a role in shaping its very core.