Category Archives: Community

We Rise Together: Resisting White Institutional Culture In Publishing

By Daniel José Older; originally published at his eponymous blog

Journal and Coffee

Had coffee with Saeed [Jones] today and we were talking about how, as people of color, we are socialized to feel gratitude to even have a seat at the table in the publishing industry, and how silencing that discomfort can be, the challenges of knowing how and when to push, how to gain and maintain a strong footing and sense of self while navigating the swamps of the literary world.

Then I went home and looked over a contract, noticing how every part of me just wanted to say, “It’s fine! It’s fine! Whatever you got for me is fine!” because I’m still just so happy to be paid for writing something, aghast at what that is and, even though I know I’ve earned it and I know it’s my path, there’s always that voice trying to barge its way in saying, Stay in line, be careful how you come across, don’t ask for too much, because it’s fragile, the weird world of publishing, the undefined, over-defined, never full, outlined beast called success.

And so WTF is success, right? I prefer the term “victory” because that’s what it feels like when shit comes together, but “success” is the word we hear most after the word “literary,” and what we believe to be “success” and “not success” matters. It matters a whole lot and what we’re never taught to do, not in MFA programs, not in [ridiculous] online how-to-be-a-writer-troll-ass blog posts, not damn anywhere–except maybe if you go to VONA–is that we have to, have to–as in it’s-a-matter-of-survival have to–deconstruct the fucked-up narrow version of success that we’re spoon-fed and create for ourselves a new understanding of what that means. Each of us has to do this, and we have to do this as a community.

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Community Comment: Cussing Out And Forgetting Feminist Foremothers

Editor’s Note: This quote came as a response from Friday’s post about Jezebel and ageism online. Reposted with permission and edits.

Second Wave feminist Flo Kennedy. Image credit: Jo Freeman.

Second Wave feminist Flo Kennedy. Image credit: Jo Freeman.

“Well, the worst sign of ageism I noticed was a Jezebel writer forgetting a groundbreaking feminist author in her list of feminist scholars. There was a lively comment [thread] about it. To add insult to injury a young feminist came on and attacked the author herself for complaining about it (and hijacked the [thread] and promoted herself)! I see it also in commentaries that talk about the racist founding of Second Wave feminism, all the while completely ignoring the older women of color who were there. (I forget the waves maybe because I’m squeezed between them.) I think that upsets me the most. I welcome the discussion about race and feminism , but please let’s not add to the problem by ignoring the older women of color. I”ll start by naming Flo Kennedy. Or Faye Wattleton who is still here. Of course, we all know Loretta Ross, but I have yet to see her on The Rachel Maddow Show.

“We all felt the ageism too in the performance we did two weeks ago: “Between the Door and the Street.” Ironically, it was started by an older feminist but staffed by young interns, [sic] who, by the way, were paid.

“I’m glad we are bringing up younger women, but we need to take care of ourselves first, I think.

“P.S. I hate the Cialis adds but that has nothing to do with age. Why can’t birth control advertise? I think we all know the answer to that.”

~~Reynolds N. Art, artist

Policing Latin@ Identities (a.k.a Who Is The Most Latin@?)

By Aimee Thorne-Thomsen

Puerto Rican Women's History

I’m a little brown gurl from New York. I’ve always been comfortable in that identity; it fits me like a skin. Part of that comfort comes from knowing who I am. And part of that comfort comes from knowing that other people know me, too. I don’t mean that other people know me well, or even deeply. What I mean is that when I walk down the streets of Washington Heights or Kingsbridge or Greenwich Village, people recognize me. They see a brown gurl, probably Puerto Rican or Dominican, maybe mixed…but definitely Latina, a woman of color. To be seen for who and what I am–and have that reflected back to me–was critical in shaping my identity as a Latin@.

I didn’t realize the power in that until college when I first encountered the policing of identity, specifically Latin@ identity.

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The Space Between

By Guest Contributor Aimee Thorne-Thomsen

Feminist buttons

I turned forty earlier this year. Unlike some of my friends and colleagues, I looked forward to entering middle-age. In fact, to celebrate the big event, I went on a two-week vacation to Italy and Spain with my nearest and dearest. What an amazing affirmation of life and love! It was the perfect way to launch the next decade of my life.

All that’s to say that I am really comfortable with who I am at forty. I’ve worked hard on myself and continue to take the time to reflect on myself and identify areas that I want to address. I have earned every gray hair in my curly mop of hair, and I have also earned every extra pound. (That’s one of those things I’m working on, btw). And despite the fact that lots of people try to convince me that I am not middle-aged or console me about middle-aged, (which I’m okay with, really,) I’m in a good place in my life.

But I’m also in a weird place. Because in addition to being middle-aged in my personal life, I’m also middle-aged in my movement life.

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The Graying Rainbow

By Guest Contributor Scot Nakagawa

Image via edgeboston.com

Image via edgeboston.com

I love my culture, my people, my so-called slanted eyes, tan skin, and black, now greying and thinning hair. I’m not short. Other people are just tall. I’m one of those people. I like being me. I am a child of Hawai’i, raised in the intersection of two great peoples–Japanese Americans and Native Hawaiians. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

But, while I love who I am, I’m not always so in love with who I’m not. I often feel like not being white is both a gift and a curse. The curse is in how I am often treated by white society as a person of color. The gift is that the kind of treatment I face provides me with a bit of perspective on just how callous, even cruel, our society can be to people for totally arbitrary reasons.

Take aging, for instance. I know more about the social stigma attached to aging than most 51-year-olds and have paid attention to it for decades. My sensitivity to the issue is not the result of greater empathy or generosity when it comes to dealing with older people. I think about it because, as an Asian American gay man, I’ve been old for about 20 years now. Aging has been on my mind for a while.

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