Tag Archives: Junot Diaz

Meanwhile, On TumblR: Junot Diaz Goes Graphic Novel

"Nilda," from the upcoming deluxe edition of Junot Diaz's "This Is How You Lose Her." Image Credit: Jamie Hernandez via Entertainment Weekly.

“Nilda,” from the upcoming deluxe edition of Junot Diaz’s “This Is How You Lose Her.” Image Credit: Jamie Hernandez via Entertainment Weekly.

Y’all know we crush hard on author Junot Diaz around these parts. Well, this bit of news from Entertainment Weekly’s Tumblr makes us crush even harder: comics legend Jamie Hernandez (of Love and Rockets fame”) is reworking Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her as illustrations for the upcoming deluxe edition.

If you’re a fan of one or both of these giants, then save your money now–the edition comes out October 31!

Video: Kicking Off Our New Year With Some Junot Diaz

As Latoya mentioned at the time, we dealt with not only the holidays but some technical glitches to close out the year. Those are in the past now, thank goodness (and some folks who offered their help).

We’ll be rolling out new content throughout the week–expect a Django double-feature on Wednesday–but to get us started, check out this Moyers & Company interview with Junot Díaz, in which he not only revisits many of the themes of his keynote speech at Facing Race, but also touches on the choices in Star Wars that resonated with his immigrant experience and his wishes for the next four years of the Obama administration. A full transcript can be found here, but a small excerpt of the conversation is under the cut.
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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.

All The Places We Are Not: The Racialicious Roundtable For Facing Race 2012

Hosted by Arturo R. García

Rinku Sen, the president and executive director of the Applied Research Center and publisher of Colorlines.com, at Facing Race 2012. Via Colorlines.

We’ll finish posting the plenaries from Facing Race 2012 Friday, but collected below are some impressions of the conference from members of the Racialicious team, including:

–Racialicious Owner and Editor Latoya Peterson
–Associate Editor Andrea Plaid
–Arts & Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour
–Guest Contributors Kendra James and Tressie McMillan Cottom

What were the highlights of the conference for you?

Andrea: “No Justice, No Peas,” “What’s Faith Got To Do With It,” and “Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” were the stand-out panels for me.

I loved the first one because, unlike the other “green” panel I attended, “Energy Democracy For All,” I never had to ask “but what about the basic disconnect between this idea/policy and people/communities of color, namely that quite a few people of color still think ‘green’ as a whites-only thing.” The presenters made plain the idea that food justice goes far beyond just eating organic foods at vegan restaurants but the racial injustice undergirding the current human ecology of food work, namely who performs which functions in producing, transporting, and serving food–not just to and in vegan restaurants but also, as an example, to and in supermarkets.

“What’s Faith Got to Do With It” was more of a supportive space than a presentation, which is good as far as people connecting with each other but a bit messy when it came to facilitating it–we ran out of time, and our facilitator, an ARC staffer, had to scoot off to do another presentation! I got the feeling that the people needed to have a place where they could talk about how their faiths inform their social justice when larger progressive movements tend to aggressively degrade religion/spirituality as a framework for doing anti-racism work.

“Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”–which was about how the Right successfully and unsuccessfully uses sexual health issues to drive wedges within communities of color–was so righteous because the panelists brought it so fiercely about not only the racist misogyny that, dare I say, is the Right’s playbook, but also how the Left and the communities themselves are complicit with it when, say, the Left makes it a political strategy to ignore the “flyover states” where the Right is steadily implementing their anti-choice beliefs as laws and others tactics or, say, some Black communities (for example) are silent about abortion rates.

Oh yeah…and I got to ask the first question at the Junot Diaz press conference. (For those who didn’t see the Storified version, I asked him to address several Racialicious readers concern about his “irresponsible” use of the n-word. The Storify is his response.) For all who think breathing the same air as a MacArthur Genius Grant winner would be like inhaling sparkly bits of brilliance–the air’s pretty regular, y’all. He’s a very down-to-earth man, which only adds to his Racialicious sapiosexuality.
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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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The Racialicious Preview For Facing Race 2012

Racialicious is pleased to announce we’ll be covering this weekend’s Facing Race 2012 conference, presented by the Applied Research Center, publisher of the Hillman Prize-winning analysis site Colorlines.

This year, Pulitzer Prize-winner and MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient Junot Díaz will serve as the keynote speaker, and comedian/activist W. Kamau Bell and author Deanna Zandt will be the conference hosts.

Our team–Andrea, Arturo, and Kendra–will be tweeting from the conference all weekend (watch for the #FacingRace hashtag) and we’ll be posting video from the plenary sessions, as well as panel recaps, after the event.

But, you can also follow the @Racialicious Twitter as it live-tweets the following sessions:

Friday, Nov. 16

No Justice, No Peas: Good Food, Good Jobs
A growing movement is concerned about access to sustainable food as well as democratic control over food production. Globally, this is the food sovereignty movement; here in the United States it is known as food justice. Innovative organizers are bridging the worlds of good food and workers’ rights to create innovative solutions that will both transform our food system an provide sustainable livelihoods for food chain workers.
Speakers: Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United; Navina Khanna, Associate, Movement Strategy Center; Suguet Lopez, Executive Director, Líderes Campesinas; Diana Robinson, Food Chain Workers Alliance.

  • One afternoon panel TBA

Saturday, Nov. 17

SURJ: Strategies for Engaging White People in Racial Justice
The economic recession and Obama’s presidency have triggered a largely white racist backlash by the Tea Party, anti-immigrant organizations and conservative political commentators. More white people are needed to show up and speak out against racism. Presenters will share experiences for recruiting and engaging white people in racial justice efforts and working in alliance with organizations of color.
Speakers: Dara Silverman, Principal, Rise Consulting; Carla Wallace, Coordinating Team, Showing Up for Racial Justice; Dottye Burt-Markowitz, Baltimore Racial Justice Action

What’s the Future of College for Students of Color?
Record numbers of students of color are headed to college, but is a degree still worth it? College is getting harder and harder to pay for, and young people are graduating with dismal job prospects and heavy loan debt. Even still, record numbers of students of color are graduating from for-profit colleges. What does this change mean for communities of color?
Speakers: Tiffany Loftin, President, The United States Student Association; Tressie McMillan Cottom, Research and PhD Candidate, Emory University [Ed’s note: Ms. McMillan Cottom has also been a Guest Contributor to The R - AG]

We’re looking forward to connecting with a lot of our allies, meeting some new ones, and sharing our findings with our fellow Racializens in the days ahead. Hope to see you in Baltimore!

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Junot Diaz

By Andrea Plaid

If we had to pick a Racialicious poster boy–that aphrodisiac of sapiosexuality–Junot Diaz would be it.

Junot Diaz. Photo: Carolyn Cole. Via Los Angeles Times.

The R’s Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson says this about his book, The Brief Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao:

My eyes drank in every word of “Wildwood,” the second chapter in Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. On the plane from Baltimore to Austin, the narrative gripped me solidly by the throat, turning a casual curiosity about Oscar into a desperate longing to hear more from his sister Lola.

When the plane touched down, my sweatshirt was crunchy with the salt from shed tears and I had run through six napkins while the story unfolded. I grabbed my bags, and called my boyfriend who had been badgering me about reading the novel for some months now.

“Why didn’t you mention Lola?” I asked.

“Who? Oscar’s sister? Why is that…oh.” His voice suddenly bloomed with recognition and we sat in silence for a few seconds.

In all the reviews I have read about the novel since I finished the final page, the character of Lola is generally a footnote. Described as a beautiful girl, or a troubled girl, or Oscar’s sister, the strength of her narrative and her story seem overshadowed by the book’s focus – obviously, Oscar – or by the story of her mother, Belicia, the beautiful prieta who seemed forged partially from the steel intended to break her into submission. And yet, to me, Lola’s story was the most compelling, reflecting back in stark focus so many emotions, trials and ideas that were intimately familiar to me and the other girls I knew growing up.

….

Because in the book I read – as in life – the men in each of these women’s lives were not central figures. There are men, yes, and Oscar is the unifying force in the narrative, but the people Belicia and Lola were involved with were not the point unto themselves. The men stood for the method of escape. With the exception of The Gangster and Yunior, all the men in the book that Lola and Belicia were involved with were ways to get the hell out.

Lola’s boyfriend Aldo is the method to escape her mother. Sure, she loved him. Kind of. But reading through the lines, the catalyst for her leaving with Aldo was that he asked to her to come live with him. Sex was part of the travel cost. As I have written before, a guy is the easiest way to escape a fucked up family life.

But this easily overlooked difference belies the true genius in Oscar Wao. It isn’t just a documenting a fictionalized account of the things that happen in our real life communities. The book shines in how Diaz fills in what would normally be an outline, and shows us the after. Or more appropriately, how Diaz demonstrates how there ain’t no happily ever after. There are just choices and consequences.

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Required Reading: Junot Díaz and Paula M.L. Moya Discuss Decolonial Love


For me, the family fukú is rape. The rape culture of the European colonization of the New World—which becomes the rape culture of the Trujillato (Trujillo just took that very old record and remixed it)—is the rape culture that stops the family from achieving decolonial intimacy, from achieving decolonial love. – Junot Díaz

This two part article from the Boston Review was more bracing than a morning cup of coffee. Paula M.L. Moya guides us through an amazing conversation with Junot Díaz, digging deep into cultural theory to come up with a treasure trove of insight around the academy, Junot’s body of work, and missing pieces from our cultural conversations about race. While you should go read the whole thing, I particularly loved a few paragraphs.

Junot:

Yunior’s a victim in a larger, second sense: I always wrote Yunior as being a survivor of sexual abuse. He has been raped, too. The hint of this sexual abuse is something that’s present in Drown and it is one of the great silences in Oscar Wao. This is what Yunior can’t admit, his very own página en blanco. So, when he has that line in the novel: “I’d finally try to say the words that could have saved us. / __________ __________ __________,” what he couldn’t say to Lola was that “I too have been molested.” He could bear witness to everyone else’s deep pains but, in the end, he couldn’t bear witness to his own sexual abuse. He couldn’t tell the story that would have tied him in a human way to Lola, that indeed could have saved him.

One has to understand that all the comments, all the things that Yunior does in Oscar Wao, move him inexorably away from the thing that he most needs: real intimacy which must have vulnerability, forgiveness, acceptance as its prerequisites. So that even though Yunior is sexist, even though he’s misogynist, even though he’s racist, even though he mischaracterizes Oscar’s life, even though he’s narcissistic—at the end he’s left with no true love, doesn’t find himself, doesn’t find that decolonial love that he needs to be an authentic self. In fact, he ends up—like the work that he assembles and stores in the refrigerator—incomplete. [...]

Thinking about Yunior as having been raped made (in my mind at least) his fucked-up utterances in the novel have a different resonance. And while he wasn’t yet ready to bear witness to his own rape, it gave him a certain point of view around sexual violence that I don’t think would have been possible otherwise. It helped me produce a novel with a feminist alignment. A novel whose central question is: is it possible to overcome the horrible legacy of slavery and find decolonial love? Is it possible to love one’s broken-by-the-coloniality-of-power self in another broken-by-the-coloniality-of-power person?

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