Tag Archives: Quoted

Quoted: On The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson

The Summer Prince

Cover of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince

 

In addition to race and class dynamics, other issues from our real-world culture persist in Palmares Três. Even in a city run by women, teen motherhood continues to be stigmatized. One character in the book is the son of a woman who had him when she was 16. Although eighteen years have passed, both the son and mother, who has become a talented and sought-after designer, still face prejudice from those around them. In fact, in a city where people live to age 250, anyone under age 30 are treated with condescension, if not disdain. Enki’s popularity among both young and old people threatens the smooth and unchallenged reign of the Aunties and the Queen. And, with Enki as Summer King, June (and the rest of the city) start to realize that deceit bubbles beneath the beauty of Palmares Três.

So poverty and inequality are not eliminated under matriarchal rule. But Johnson’s matriarchy changes some of the ways people regard sexuality. People love and lust after for whomever they want, regardless of gender. June’s mother was first married to a man. Less than a year after his death, she marries a woman. No one bats an eye except June, who is furious at her mother’s rapid remarriage. At his first public appearance as Summer King, Enki and June’s best friend Gil meet and are immediately smitten. Their romance becomes constant fodder for the gossip feeds, but again no one questions their pairing.

The Summer Prince doesn’t push readers to think about real-world injustices like TankbornPartials orTruancy do. Instead, it was only when I emerged from Johnson’s beautifully written pages that I began to reflect on some of the similarities (and differences) between her world and this one. I can see YA readers, particularly YA girl readers, enjoying The Summer Prince, but it might take some prodding to connect the world and underlying injustices of Palmares Três to real-world issues of race, class, stigma and power.

– “Can a Society Run by Women Still Be a Dystopia?” by Victoria Law via Bitch Magazine

 

June, our heroine, is likably complex. She’s headstrong and confident, frequently referring to herself as “the best artist in Palmares Tres,” but she’s also believable as a slightly naive kid who hasn’t had to look outside the bubble of her privileged life as the stepdaughter of a government official. That life, of squabbling with her mother, working on cheeky performance-art stunts and hanging around with her best friend, Gil, changes dramatically when Gil falls in love with the newly elected Summer King Enki, a young man from the algae-farming slums.

It’s an unexpected twist in a novel full of them. Yes, this is a YA-dystopia-love-triangle story, but how unusual to see the heroine become the third wheel to a sensitively depicted gay relationship. And how deliciously unusual to read a YA dystopia that’s comfortable with ambiguity and nuance. This is a book that doesn’t condescend. Gil, June and Enki find themselves having to tread carefully as they work out their own answers to a host of questions about love, art, technology, tradition — even sex. Slightly bratty teenager June matures noticeably over the course of the narrative, becoming much more understanding of the adults in her life and what drives them. And even though one of the central conflicts in the book is a standard faceoff between the youth of Palmares Tres and the somewhat ossified ruling class, even the villains come off as understandable in the end.

– “Samba, Spiderbots And ‘Summer’ Love In Far-Future Brazil,” by Petra Mayer of NPR

Quoted: Lucy Liu On Racial Image And Romantic Comedies

by Joseph Lamour

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Image via Net-a-Porter.

The levels to which I would like to see Lucy Liu, Eva Mendes, or Aisha Tyler as the next Rom Com Queen knows no bounds. It’s nice to know Ms. Liu feels the same way. From The Edit magazine:

“I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion. People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. You add race to it, and it became, ‘Well, she’s too Asian’, or, ‘She’s too American’. I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough, so it gets really frustrating.”

I have so many (read: so many) ideas in the works for romantic comedies, each starring a lead of color. And, one gay one- starring me, of course. If Lena Dunham can do it, so can I. I just want to see someone like Lucy fall in love in a movie lit like a Dannon commercial. Doesn’t everyone want that?  Fellow lovers of Hitch, The Wedding Planner, and Something New: who would you like to see meet-cute, wardrobe montage, and run towards (or away from) an airport in a romantic comedy? Make your case in the comments.

Quoted: Highlights From Jay Smooth’s “T-Paining Too Much: The Meme-ification Of Charles Ramsey”

There’s so many questions that probably won’t have easy or pretty answers. And, there’s a rule that people usually apply to this, and that is the “Now Is Not The Time” rule. And usually its applied to politics, “Let’s please not bring politics into this.” And I’ve got to say, I usually disagree with that rule, like, I think in Cleveland we probably should ask how things like class and gender factor into the bigger questions. But I do think there is another version of that rule, a new version that we have to establish pretty soon…

Now is not the time for autotune, can we please we leave autotune out of this?

This trend where a certain type of person is in the news, we have a compulsion to immediately grab that person and then flatten out their personhood into this paper thin, click bait, Chappelle Show laughing-for-the-wrong-reasons viral joke.

There’s gotta be some middle ground where we can appreciate that without this mad dash to make a meme-ified clown out of anyone who fits in the “wacky black guy” box.

Editor’s Note: I wanted to meme-ify something worth meme-ing. So here you are, internet:

Autotune2b

Quoted: Marriage is like Kitchenware

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Over at Clutch Magazine, Racialicious editor Tamara Winfrey Harris contrasted marriage advice aimed at black women with the old adage “there is a lid for every pot.”

On a literal lid hunt, one looks for the top that suits the particular contours and properties of the bottom. No one would dream of perching a saucepan lid on a cast iron skillet and expect the fried chicken to turn out right. And you wouldn’t take a hammer to your crockpot to make some random cover fit. But society constantly bangs on black women in an effort to mold us into something allegedly more attractive to potential partners — as if our needs are secondary and as if they don’t really care about healthy partnerships, but just marriage for marriage’s sake.

Read more…

 

Image Credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy

Quoted: On Volunteering and Culture Shock

Peace Corps Ad

Once I arrived for my three-month training program in the small town of Santa Lucia Milpas Altas [Guatemala], I was disturbed to learn I was only one of seven minorities (and two Latinas) in our group of 52. We were completely outnumbered bu Caucasian trainees. Suddenly, my earlier misgivings were overshadowed by a more pressing question: Why are there so few minorities in the Peace Corps?

You’d think that as a US government agency operating in 77 countries, the Peace Corps would do a better job of representing our nation’s racial diversity. But only 19 percent of the more than 8,665 Peace Corps volunteers are minorities. This, in a country where almost 35% of the population is non-Hispanic white. [...]

As it turns out, I have experienced culture shock in Guatemala, only it has been through the misrepresentation of the United States as a homogenous country by an agency that should do more to encourage diversity among its volunteers.

– Susan Alvarado, “Culture Shock in Guatemala”, Latina, September 2011

The university I was assigned to was in a city about 75 minutes outside of the capital, and I remained a spectacle for the nine months I was there. I should state that I have never been mistaken for anything but Black. Even before I locked my hair, I have always had full lips, a broad nose, high cheek bones and dark skin. All of which made me so completely unprepared for people stopping dead in their tracks in the street, the marketplace, or basically anywhere I was, and starring with mouths open, pointing and yelling at me or to whoever they might be saying, “Nigeria!” “Hamaica (Jamaica),” “Mali,” “Burkina Faso,” and so on.

I couldn’t understand why I was such an attraction when right in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia there were people who looked just like me. Furthermore, my Filipino, East Indian and European co-workers never even got so much as a glance in the streets. All of the attention made me wonder….do Black folks not volunteer in Africa? Because if they did, I wondered what looked so alien about me–a Black woman–in Africa?

– Adisa Vera Beatty, “Color Struck: Black and Volunteering In Africa,” Clutch Magazine

Quoted: Bai Ling on Accepting Stereotypes

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


I asked her if she’s comfortable with the way Crank 2 portrays Asian people, since its main villain is Hu Dong, a 100-year-old Chinese gangster. She responded, “I don’t consider myself an Asian actress or an Asian American actress. I’m just one of the creatures in the world, happy to have the gift as an actress [who's] working.” People might point out that a lot of actors from Asia or Eastern Europe play prostitutes or “somebody’s girlfriend,” but “a lot them in real life are.” So there’s nothing wrong with showing it. And there’s no point in having a lot of anger, or being caught up with criticizing one aspect of a movie. “There is a Chinese mafia, and they do a lot of bad things. So it’s fine for this film to show that. It’s their choice.”

—Bai Ling on her new movie Crank 2, from an interview on io9.com


(Thanks Jason for the tip!)

Quoted: Danah L. Cunningham on “The Black Voice”

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


Let me start by saying that from where I stand, collective discourse, debate, dissent and demand are crucially necessary for building the political will to advance African Americans’ equity claims. Black voice is critical to this process. I am focused here on that part of black voice that prioritizes political strategies and collective action. Thus, I use the terms “black voice” and “freedom discourse” interchangeably. Because our struggles are counter-majoritarian, because therefore, the “sensible” thing to do is to ignore them and go on with the existing frameworks that make these struggles invisible, it is critical for black people to be able to come together and make sense of their conditions, determine what they want to change and then to figure out how they will make change. This is very different activity from supporting a particular candidate or even a legislative agenda. Electoral and legislative campaigns by definition demand cultivation of the white electoral majority’s opinions and carry inherent risk that they will censure claims or interests that are unpleasant to that majority. Without a prior agenda-setting discourse enabling African American communities to arrive at some collective decisions about their shared future, I can’t imagine either innovation in support of, or accountability to, black concerns.

Black voice stems from the schizophrenic daily experience of being un-free in a society that claims freedom as its first principle. Black voice provides a unique, and I would argue, necessary, perspective on the failures of American democratic institutions. Frederick Douglass, asked to address an abolitionist group on the subject of Independence Day, captured it best when he chose to “see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave’s point of view:”

    [Y]our high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. . . .. The
    rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your
    fathers, is shared by you, not by me. . … This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine.
    You may rejoice, I must mourn. . .”

    Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” July 5, 1852

Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Can African-Americans Find Their Voice in Cyberspace?: A Conversation With Dayna Cunningham (Part One of Four)

(Thanks to reader Jason for the tip!)

Quoted: Tricia Rose on Fighting Sexism in a Community Assaulted by Racism

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


The pressure young black women feel to defend black men against racist attacks, even at their own expense, is a new variation on the centuries old standard for black women’s race loyalty. This community wide standard – which asks women to take the hit (metaphorically and literally), to be content with dynamics in which they sacrifice themselves and care for others’ interests over their own – mimics the terms of an abusive relationship. As bell hooks has pointedly reminded us, although we should avoid demonizing black males “[b]lack females must not be duped into supporting shit that hurts us under the guise of standing beside our men. If black men are betraying us through acts of male violence, we save ourselves and the race by resisting.”

—Tricia Rose, The Hip Hop Wars, p. 127

Latoya’s Note: I’ve been thinking about these ideas a lot lately, in various conversations of feminism, on threads about Chris Brown and Rihanna, and looking over some of the conversation threads here. So I wanted to open this up to the floor. Other women of color, I encourage you all to participate and talk about how the dynamic described plays out (or does not play out) in your experiences. Men of color, I want you to listen first. You can feel free to comment, but I notice on a lot of threads men tend to become extremely defensive when women want to talk about things that are literally killing us.