Talking About Oppression


Writers who deal with oppression are as varied as the forms of oppression they face. Kiese Laymon and Leigh Stein come from two disparate backgrounds, writes Rachel Edelman in Critical Flame, but both end up critiquing gender and racial oppression in similar ways:

Laymon is a black man from Mississippi; Stein is a white half-Jewish woman from the Midwest. But what they lack in common geography and race, they make up for in uncommonly adept critical analyses of oppression. Laymon examines racism in his essays, and Stein sexism in her poems, through a synthesis of individual experience, compelling language, and the lens of mass media. For each, an amalgamation of voices—teachers, parents, TV shows, and literature—shaped their identities, and each now uses those voices to explore that identity through art.

Ian MacAllen is the author of RED SAUCE: HOW ITALIAN FOOD BECAME AMERICAN (April 2022, Rowman & Littlefield). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →