“In a lot of places in the United States, you can still get a degree in English literature and not have to study any people of color,” says poet, author and educator Frank X Walker.
This postcard of a child with a book is from the The East Riverside Photographs Collection associated with the East Riverside urban redevelopment project of Asheville. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, UNC Asheville
“It’s part of the whole master narrative that displays the idea of a hierarchy in our society, that suggests whose work in this culture is more valuable. And it’s not women or people of color.”
I spent several months working on a three-part series about the history of black writers in Western North Carolina, and why the voices of those artists have been excluded from the dominant narrative.
Find Part 1 here (with quotes from Walker, UNC Asheville history professor Darin Waters and Asheville-based author Monica McDaniel); find Part 2 here (with quotes from authors Meta Commerse and Ann Woodford and poet Glenis Redmond); and find Part 3 here (with quotes from poets Nicole Townsend, James Love and Damion Bailey and author Charles Blount).
A vintage photo of African-American bikers from the story “Soul on Bikes & Black Chrome: The History of Black America’s Motorcycle Culture” at salvedgeyard.com.
An interesting read as we go into Asheville Beer Week (aka, not so much different from All Weeks in Asheville). The question that brought me to this article is: Why is Asheville’s beer scene (aka, outside of medical, probably its largest industry) not welcoming to or inclusive of people of color?
• “There Are Almost No Black People Brewing Craft Beer. Here’s Why.” by Dave Infante in Thrillist: “[The post-Prohibition] consolidation of most beer brewing in the US into very large corporations probably hurt all sorts of minorities who would have potentially owned breweries.”
To put this next piece context, I came to this story after being seriously annoyed by 45’s comment that an investigation into his Russian ties are a witch hunt. Witches, historically, were women healers and leaders who were persecuted for their independence and for the ways they sought to provide for their families and communities (doing what the governing bodies of their times would not). Witch hunts were systematic murders to stop the power of women. A white man of significant privilege and power aligning his predicament with that of “witches” (many of whom didn’t even identify as such), is tone-deaf and insidious. Here’s a story about a legitimate witch hunt in the 21st century. And be warned, it’s hard to take.
• “Witch hunt: Africa’s hidden war on women” by Witch hunt: Africa’s hidden war on women in The Independent: “These women are frightening anomalies here: they have a flicker of financial independence denied to all other females. It has to be stopped.”
• “Chelsea Manning’s Lawyer Knows How to Fight Transgender Discrimination—He’s Lived It” by Samantha Michaels in Mother Jones: “If you can’t go to the bathroom, you can’t go to school or have a job. … You can’t go to the movies or a restaurant. This is really a question of whether or not as a society we’re going to let trans people participate and be part of our social fabric.”
• Transcript of New Orleans Mayor Landrieu’s address on Confederate monuments in The Pulse: “In the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans — or anyone else — to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd.”
The post is late but the material is still worth a read…
61 1/8 × 72 7/8 × 3 7/8 in
Acrylic on PVC panel
• “University Students Want Free Tuition For Blacks As Reparations For Slavery” by David Krayden in dailycaller.com: “The Western Kentucky University student government passed a resolution, 19-10, that advocates the recognition of slavery as a “debt that will never be paid” and offer free tuition to black students as compensation.”
• “This Mother’s Day, Black Lives Matter Activists Will Give More Than 30 Women Their Freedom” by Dani McClain at The Nation: “Black people didn’t wait for an Emancipation Proclamation or the end of the Civil War to act on their own behalf. … Instead, they sometimes bought their own and each other’s freedom, and in doing so left a blueprint for how to directly challenge mass criminalization today, even as policy battles are in progress.”
• “This racial justice jam, or White folks trying to figure it out” by Shay Stewart-Bouley on her blog, black girl in maine: “Racism in this country is largely a white problem, but white people solving it alone won’t work.”
• “How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope” by William Black in The Atlantic: “These symbols have roots in real historical struggles—specifically, in the case of the watermelon, white people’s fear of the emancipated black body.”
THINK ABOUT IT:
“A lot of times equality can feel like oppression for those who are losing their advantage, but that’s not a reason we shouldn’t fight for equality.” — Western Kentucky University student senator Lily Nellans
• “Reclaiming Our Roots: The Story of Tamishan” by Melissa Henry in The Urban News: “The stories of how these African Muslims had succeeded in preserving key elements of culture, some even convincing their owners to set them free and allow them to return to their native lands, amazed and inspired me.”
• London-based spoken word artist Kate Tempest performing on World Cafe. Holy crap. Continue reading
I opted out of the Goodreads challenge this year not because I’m not that into reading, but because in January I issued myself a different sort of challenge: Read more work by writers of color, LGBT writers and differently abled writers. It’s taken my reading in interesting directions — into more non-fiction and into more magazine and blog articles (as opposed to just books).
Here’s what I’ve been reading and thinking about this week. If you check any of these links out, let me know what you think.
• How America Fails Black Girls (New York Times): “Mainstream feminism has historically ignored the issues facing runaway and other missing black girls as well as most other issues regarding women and children of color.” Continue reading
A sweet (and stealthy) writeup on How to Talk to Rockstars, the Indiegogo campaign and the book launch, from my co-worker Kat McReynolds. Read it here.
This week I was award second place in features writing for my February, 2014 cover story, Pressing Matters, about small publishing houses. The accolade came from the North Carolina Press Association. Read more about the awards and my talented co-workers who took home first prize honors in their respective categories.