Category Archives: literature of colour

The SDCC Files: Rep. John Lewis Comes To Comic-Con

By Arturo R. García

(L-R): Artist Nate Powell, Top Shelf Productions’ Leigh Walton, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Andrew Aydin. Lewis and Aydin co-wrote the autobiographical comic “March.” All images via Top Shelf Productions.

A real hero came to San Diego on July 20, as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) arrived to unveil the first volume of March, a three-volume autobiographical graphic novel telling his own origin story.

“I hope that hundreds and thousands of young people across America and around the world, pick up this book and be inspired to engage in non-violent direct action,” Lewis said. “When they see something that is not right, something that is unjust, that they be moved to protest.”

Co-written by Andrew Aydin, a member of his staff, and illustrated by Nate Powell, the first volume of the story, due out on Aug. 13, flashes back to Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, and his eventual journey into what we now know to be the Civil Rights Movement, but was initially called “the Montgomery Method.” Under the cut is my live report from their jam-packed session at the convention.
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My Family: Providing Children’s Books For The LGBT Market

By Guest Contributor Monica Roberts; originally posted at Transgriot
Monica and Cheril Bey-Clarke

Monica and Cheril Bey-Clarke

When married power couple and business partners Monica and Cheril Bey-Clarke were seeking to become licensed foster parents in New Jersey, they were frustrated by the lack of materials and books available for the children of GLBT parents.The couple featured in a recent “Most Powerful Lesbians” issue of CurveMagazine.decided to step in and fill the void of books and materials for kids of all ages and backgrounds.   They sought by doing so to give the children of same-sex parents a sense of normalcy.  Their goal was also to promote the celebration of our differences, the importance of family values and reinforce the morality being taught in the home.It didn’t hurt that Cheril has been an award winning author, novelist and playwright in the LGBT community for over ten years and Monica has over a decade of experience formulating, creating strategies for and implementing business concepts.

In 2010 they founded My Family! a retail arm of Dodi Press LLC, to provide those books and materials and positive experiences for LGBT parents for generations to come.   The company went international in 2011 and has a website you can purchase their diverse multicultural line of books and products

When Leonard Lost His Spots

As I perused the site and its gender identity section I noted that Cheryl Kilodavis’ My Princess Boy is one of the books for sale on their website in addition to others from a wide array of authors that cover the various aspects of the LGBT community and the issues that would impact the children of same-sex, bi, and trans parents.

One of them was a trans-themed book by writer Monique Costa entitled “When Leonard Lost His Spots.”

So for you parents in the LGBT community looking for some quality books and items for your kids and wanting to circulate your TBLG dollars in the community, may wish to surf by the My Family! website and see what they have to offer.

Protecting White Kids From History

By Guest Contributor T.F. Charlton; originally published at Are Women Human?

Content Notes: racist violence, slavery, infanticide, Japanese internment.

So, this is a thing: a white parent has spent 6 months trying to get the Fairfax County,Virginia school system to ban Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved from its schools. Why? She feels its content isn’t suitable for children – where “children” here means older teenagers in an Advanced Placement class intended to provide college-level instruction – and is upset that reading the book gave her then 18 year old son nightmares.

Laura Murphy, the book-banning mom in question, has apparently also tried to get Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, a novel about the Canadian government’s internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War II, removed from the county curriculum. I have no idea what her objection to Obasan is, but there appears to be a pattern here, and it looks an awful lot like whiteness.

There’s so much one could say about this.

Firstly: Yes, Beloved is a deeply disturbing book, no doubt about that. It’s the story of a mother who would rather kill her children than be forced to have them grow up as slaves. Morrison doesn’t spare feelings or constitutions in her descriptions of all kinds of horrific violence.

Kimberly Elise, Oprah Winfrey, and Thandie Newton in "Beloved."

Kimberly Elise, Oprah Winfrey, and Thandie Newton inBeloved. Still from The Ascension Blog

I’ve read a good portion of Beloved, but have never finished it, because I was strongly advised that it wasn’t a book I wanted to read while I was pregnant (I believe my friend’s exact words were “STOP READING IT RIGHT NOW”). So, I get it. It’s an unsettling read.

It’s a bit sad that this needs saying, but many books that are worth reading can be profoundly unsettling and scary, even traumatic to read. And this is in part because many unsettling, scary, traumatic things are part of the human experience.

It’s hard for me to imagine there aren’t several books on Fairfax County’s AP English curriculum that are potentially as disturbing as Beloved or Obasan. Say, for example, Lord of the Flies, which gave me nightmares when I read it in 10th grade. Kids going feral after being stranded on a desert island and hunting and killing each other is pretty nightmarish stuff, no? Or how about Hamlet? Dude pretty much slaughters everyone at the end [eta: hyperbole alert :-p]. Let’s ban, that, too.

But no, those books are part of the awfully white male “Western canon,” and not so vulnerable to these sorts of crusades. Their literary merit is established, so the violent and disturbing aspects are more easily taken for granted.  Despite Murphy’s claim that her objection to Beloved is purely about protecting kids and has nothing to do with her assessment of its literary merit, it’s quite obvious that her concerns about literary violence don’t apply equally to all books or all authors.

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: Intergenerational Afropolitan Genius

By Andrea Plaid

This photo of literary/cultural African American female icons got lots of love this week:

L-r: Nikki Giovanni, Toni Morrison, and Angela Davis. Photo credit: Jim Stroup.

This video of Os Kuduristas, a troupe of kuduro dancers from the Angolan diaspora, caught my soul–like, it’s-on-replay caught.

According to Okay Africa, Os Kudurista (the people dressed in blue and gray) just performed in NYC and will be in Washington, DC at the Tropicalia Club, 2001 14th Street NW, on Friday, 12/21. I say, if you’re in DC and if possible, give yourself a treat and see them…

…and check out what other treats Racializens love on the R’s Tumblr!

 

One More #FacingRace Flashback: An Excerpt From Junot Diaz’s Keynote

Big thanks to the Colorlines team for posting this 23-minute section from Junot Díaz’s keynote speech at the Facing Race conference, which we focused on in our team roundtable of the event last week.

“I lost the printout,” Díaz confresses to start the proceedings. “I left it on the train up.” He then opens the floor for questions, partly because of the unique demands of his position.

“I’ve gotta read something,” he explains. “You know, when they give you this much time and they say that you have to do a keynote speech, you have to, like, write something down. And I never sound very smart or interesting when I have to read. So I feel like super-bad about it.”

Note: The speech does use NSFW language, but it’s still worth watching, as the author expands on the idea of “decolonial love” and more.

Breaking The Barrier: On Race, Gender, And Junot Díaz

By Thea Lim, cross-posted from The Millions

Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her

A few weeks ago, in the The New York Observer, Nina Burleigh threw down the notion that the enormous success of Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her is undeserved. Díaz is beloved not because he is a great writer, Burleigh argues, but because Díaz is a man, and a man who delights us with tales about dashing players and their hapless women victims:

Is it the wars, the terrorism, the recession, driving the longing for a regenerated machismo that Mr. Díaz’s multi-culti cred makes acceptable again? Is it a feminist backlash?…Mr. Díaz’s wondrous bewitching of prize committees comes at a time when women writers remain wildly underrepresented in publishing, on both the reviewing and the reviewed side.

And on Twitter, multiple women writers I respect and admire, like Roxane Gay and Elliot Holt gave Díaz his due, but went on to say that Díaz’s style of confessional writings about love would not fly if written by a woman.

Normally, I’d be all over this kind of thing. I love talking about the lack of gender equity in publishing (in fact, I did for Bitch Magazine this summer). But I can’t agree that Díaz’s success is gender-based; because, yes, Díaz is a man, but he’s also a man of color. Critics who say that Díaz would not receive the same warmth if he was a woman are overlooking the factor of race.
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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: James Earl Hardy

By Andrea Plaid

James Earl Hardy. Photo Credit: Sylvester Q. Courtesy of the interviewee.

Award-winning author James Earl Hardy mentioned that quite a few people may have seen his best-selling book, B-boy Blues, outside of college classrooms–where it’s required reading in African American/multiculti lit and queer lit courses–and bookshelves: actor Isaiah Washington, who plays one half of a same-gender loving (SGL) couple in Spike Lee’s 1996 flick, Get On The Bus, is a holding a copy of it.

Lit-checked in a Spike Lee movie? Such is Hardy’s swag.

After the jump is the interview, in which Hardy talks about the “One Superstar Person Of Color At A Time” mindset in publishing, Black masculinity in pop culture, and his writing a one-person play about a man of color who’s a porn star and entrepreneur. (You read that right.) Hardy also talks about Washington’s career-ending homophobic remark, made a decade after his role in Get On The Bus.