“'I call these things ‘White Guy in a Tie’ events,” a Canadian friend of a friend named Jake told me during the recruitment pitch he gave me in Beijing, where I live. 'Basically, you put on a suit, shake some hands, and make some money. We’ll be in ‘quality control,’ but nobody’s gonna be doing any quality control. You in?'
"And so I became a fake businessman in China, an often lucrative gig for underworked expatriates here. One friend, an American who works in film, was paid to represent a Canadian company and give a speech espousing a low-carbon future. Another was flown to Shanghai to act as a seasonal-gifts buyer. Recruiting fake businessmen is one way to create the image—particularly, the image of connection—that Chinese companies crave. My Chinese-language tutor, at first aghast about how much we were getting paid, put it this way: 'Having foreigners in nice suits gives the company face.'"
If you are a publishing decision-maker who wants to do the right thing by publishing or selling more titles by authors of colour, brava!! But you have to know that there is work to be done. The way the system is currently set up, writers of colour must bend and distort our work so that it is recognizable and appealing to white editors. Editors are not required to bend their reality or lens so that they can understand and relate to the styles, traditions, and aesthetics of PoC. So our work is always judged through a white lens. And the work is read and judged based on whether it will appeal to a white readership. The default assumption is that only brown folks will want to read work written by brown folks. And that white readership is the goal. This is problematic on so many levels.
"The two men were separated by just 2.5 miles, or a few minutes on the No. 66 bus. But that distance can seem insurmountable when one neighborhood is predominantly black and working class and the other is a wealthy, mostly white community. As they chatted about their family histories, Crawford and Cone seemed closer.
"It was day one of 'Virtual Street Corners,' a project meant to link neighborhoods through technology and, more important, people. The project’s official launch takes place at 6 p.m. today in storefronts at Brookline Booksmith and the Warren Street side of Nubian Notion.
“'This is not a thing where at the end of this we’re going to save the world, but I do hope we have some dialogue,' said Crawford, 39, an activist and writer serving as the Roxbury side’s community organizer. 'We want people to learn a thing or two about each other.'"
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