Archive for May, 2010

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Reading, Writing, and Race

May 30, 2010


Credited to N. K. Jemisin

I read a blog post online a little while ago about the African American section of the bookstore. I mentioned it in a post a few days ago but I wanted to get a little further into what I means to me. It was a post that really resonated with me a lot as a person and a reader and would-be writer. I’ll give you a little background about me first to help explain.

Growing up my father was in the military so we moved around a lot and I was influenced by a lot of different peoples and cultures around the world. I’ve lived in Germany, Italy, Virginia, New York, and more. My father is black and my mother is Korean. I’ve grown up eating grits as well as kimchi. Most of my friends tended to be white, Korean, or Hispanic, just because that whom we tended to live around at my father’s different stations. I never really knew other black people aside from a couple of my dad’s friends, my god-sister, and my dad’s family that we didn’t get to see too often as they lived in the states as we traveled. Most of my ‘aunts’ were my mom’s Korean friends that I called ‘imo’. I call myself black, purely because of those forms in school when I was younger that had you designate a race and only let you pick one, regardless of your background. And those little ‘multiracial’ options didn’t pop up until I was in high school. By then it was already ingrained, even though I try to break myself of this even to this day. I didn’t find this odd this was just normal.

My dad’s last assignment took us to Georgia, where I live now, and where I was introduced to the largest population of blacks I had ever been amongst before that point. It was a different from what I was used to growing up, both the black culture here as well as the Southern culture in general. Which is different from up North as many people can tell you that have been to both. I’d never actually seen the racial stereotype in person until we moved to Georgia. There were guys with their pants down showing their underwear, people cursing in normal conversation left and right, cars driving down the street blasting music so with the bass so loud you can’t even tell what’s playing. Yes, everything you’ve seen on TV really does happen. I was surprised too.

This was a bit difficult for me to get used to. I didn’t really listen to the type of music that was prevalent among the black population here, I didn’t wear the popular clothes, I didn’t speak the vernacular or slang. I tend to be a very adaptable person because I’ve had to be but it was a bit harder for me here. It did make it easier when I found the other kids that were Army brats like me though, so it was something that I overcame. And slowly but surely I found my place and my voice. I speak clear English (but sometimes I have a bit of a Southern accent :P), I understand the slang even if I tend not to use it, I listen to all types of music from rap (loooove Eminem) to rock to pop to hip hop, and my hair stylist is the love of my life every time I see her every two months.

Now, what does this have to do with what I started this post about? Books. I read all kinds of books from different genres, books that tend to be written by Caucasian writers with Caucasian characters. This is because this is what is out there in the majority. I’ve been okay with that because the books I like to read don’t focus on the race or the color, but the people and the story. It just happens that most of the characters are white because that is what is being published. I know this now, but when I was younger it wasn’t as clear.

There is a section in libraries and book stores that tends to be labeled ‘African American Interest’ or something similar. I’ve never been to this section, I’ve never planned to look at this section, and I really, really dislike this section. This is not a rant against African American writers in the least. On the contrary, this is a rant on the perpetuation of racism and racial segregation in the world today. What is the necessity for this section? What exactly does “African American Interest” even mean? Why is it necessary to put all of these different books in this section even if they have nothing in common with each other, other than the race of the author? And of course fairly recently there have been ‘Asian Interest’ and ‘Latino Interest’ sections popping up in bookstores as if that makes is better. This is just separating everyone even more!

Going to bookstores when I was younger I was always so interested in the written word and what people had to say. I had all of these stories in my head that I wanted to write down, but I was too shy to do so. This was partly because I saw all of these books by mostly white authors that wrote about white characters in the main section of the bookstore, and then all of the black authors writing about black characters on one little bookshelf in the store. And most of those books by black authors were about ‘baby mamas’ and gangbangers and the ghetto, with men on the covers with braids and no shirt or women that look like strippers. I’m sure that there were plenty of black writers with great voices out there writing real literature, but this other crap was so prevalent and out there that it was the only thing I saw, so I stayed away. I was not interested in being hit over the head with the black stereotype every time I opened a book or even looked at the cover. I can’t relate and I refuse to pander to the expectations of publishers about my race.

And for a long while I figured that was the only thing that, as a black person, I could and should write about. But I didn’t know about those things nor did I want to. I couldn’t write what I’d never experienced or didn’t believe in. So I didn’t. I stopped trying to write down my stories and making up characters because the stories and characters I came up with were more ‘mainstream’ than what other black writers were publishing. My stories were about magic and fantasy or even romance in historical eras, things that I saw in the books that I was reading by mainstream or white writers. It was very heartbreaking to me in a way. I just felt that what I had to share wouldn’t be welcomed by the community as a whole, purely because of my race.

I’m now 25, almost 26 and as an adult I know more now than I did then. I know that racism very real, even in the publishing world and I was probably right back then. Even today, in 2010, there are great writers of minority races that won’t be published because of the content of their books. Because they aren’t writing what is considered to be right for their own race, not the population as a whole. Just because someone is black doesn’t mean they have to write purely for the black population. But unfortunately this is how it’s still seen even today. And even African American publishing companies are taking advantage of this stereotype which just makes this all even sadder.

I get scared sometimes that I’ve lost my voice. That the stories that used to come to me so easily are now lost because I purposely suppressed them, encouraged by society as a whole to be ‘normal’ for my race or at least be quiet about it. I don’t write like I used to. The words don’t come to me now and when they do come I tend to second-guess them. It’s hard for me to create these worlds in my head that used to flourish there constantly. I want to write about things that interest me, stories that I care about, not what publishers expect to hear from a ‘person of my race or type’. I am not box on a piece of paper and my words should not be relegated to a certain shelf purely because of what I look like.

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Fab Friday 5/28/2010

May 28, 2010


Credited to weheartit

It’s been forever since I’ve done this. It’s mostly just because I’ve been so lazy about keeping track of interesting things I see on the web. lol I’m so bad. Anyway, here are some cool links that I’ve seen this week and I really wanted to share with everyone.

I adore young love. And these have to be the cutest kids I’ve ever seen!

Also from the same site, I’m really interested in hosting my own tea party. This should give me some great ideas.


Credited to weheartit

I made this great cream cheese pound cake for my dad’s birthday. I didn’t make the strawberry coulis but it tasted really great. It was my first effort from scratch and I’m very proud of myself. 😀

Summer is here and new shows are on their way! What do you guys watch during the summer? Do you fill up on reruns waiting for the fall shows to start back up or do you have an summer episodes you love to watch?


Credited to weheartit

One of my new favorite authors, N. K. Jemisin, wrote a very interesting rant on the African American section in bookstores and libraries that I found very interesting and relevant. I’ve never looked at that section even though I am black because I’ve always been offended by obvious segregation of that section in the first place and the content that is really prevalent there.

I recently found a great site out there for creative types or just anyone. 😀 It’s called Miseducated. It has multiple contributors and has plenty of articles including lovely DIY projects or advice. It’s a great advice I recommend people visit.

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Curious Tuesday

May 25, 2010

It’s a new week of Gala’s Curious Tuesday. Please feel free to join in! 😀

1. Who is your favourite musician, NOT in terms of talent or aptitude, but based on pure sex appeal?
Justin Timberlake. I do like his music but he is just so hot, whether he can sing or not. 😀

2. What were some quirks of your past lovers that drove you crazy?
Not applicable. lol

3. If there was a movie made about your life, what song would you absolutely INSIST be on the soundtrack?
“Valerie” – Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse lol I just like having a song with my name as the title.

4. What is your favourite quote right now?
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”
— Audrey Hepburn

5. Connect up with other nonpareils! Post links to your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc., here! (We haven’t done this in a long time & it’s so much fun! Thanks to Vixxie for reminding me!)
mochalove.net
Flickr
Twitter
weheartit

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First Book Down!

May 20, 2010

hundred thousand kingdoms

I’ve finished the first book of many in my numerous reading challenges for this year I’m so excited. It was a book called The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by the author N. K. Jemisin. It was a really wonderful book that I loved to death. It’s the first in trilogy so I really can’t wait for her to come out with the other books. This is actually the author’s debut novel so I’m very impressed with it. Here is a description of the book from the site Goodreads which I just joined:

    Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

    With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably together.

Anyway, I completely recommend it to anyone who likes to read fantasy like I do. The story will completely suck you in. Also, I’ll list my books as I read them on the Book Challenges page. And for some if not all of them I’ll leave a link to the review I write on Goodreads. If you want to see the review I left for this one just click on the link on that page. See you later!

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Curious Tuesday

May 18, 2010

1. Who is your #1 crush?
Wow, that’s hard. That was a long time ago. lol It was probably this boy named Tristain when I was in elementary school. When we played tag on the playground I let him tag me. 🙂

2. Have you ever tried online dating? How did it go? Any tips?
I’ve never tried it. I’m a little wary with all of the horror stories you see on t.v.

3. Are you sentimental? Do you keep the things other people give you?
I call it being sentimental, my family calls it being a pack rat. lol I tend to keep everything people give me for as long as I can. I just like to keep the memories and it’s easier to remember when you have something tangible to see and touch.

4. As a child, what were your primary interests?
I was a bit of a tomboy actually. I used to love going outside to ride my bike and make mud pies. I loved worms and dirt and sand. But I also loved to read books and if I couldn’t play outside I’d always have a book in my hand.

5. What are your top 3 guilty pleasures?
1. I looooove HGTV and Food Network. I never cook anything or do any of the projects but I just love to watch all of the shows and see how they do it. I keep promising myself that one day I will at least try to do something I’ve seen on one of those channels.
2. Movie soundtracks and musical songs. I have a whole playlist on my iPod just for soundtracks from movies (usually Disney) and musicals (my favorite at the moment is Sweeney Todd). I just love them and they are so easy to sing along to. 😀
3. Young Adult Novels. I just love them! I still read Harry Potter and every time I hit up the bookstore I have to stop by the YA section to see if anything new has come out. I plan to never grow up.

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Quotes to Ponder

May 13, 2010


Credited to Pink Sherbet Photography

“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.” – Erica Jong

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Curious Tuesday 002

May 4, 2010

And here is another round of Gala’s Curious Tuesday. I’m really loving this! 😀

1. What are you most excited for RIGHT NOW? My introduction to book challenges. I had no idea about these things before and now it’s like I’m obsessed with them. I joined a whole bunch and I keep looking for more, like I’m actually going to be able to read all of those books. 😀

2. Who is your style icon? What inspires your look? Honestly I don’t have a look right now. I’m very blah. But I’ve always loved Katherine Hepburn’s style. It was masculine yet chic and still feminine. She wore trousers and button down shirts and managed to look very glamorous. I strive to be like her.

3. If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you invite? Marilyn Monroe, I want to know what she was really like, not just what others though she was like.

4. What did you dress up as for your first Halloween? The first Halloween that I remember choosing my own costume I chose to be Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I loved that she was independent and wasn’t afraid to be different. She also loved to read like I do.

5. What are you improving? My finances. lol I’m trying to better about what I spend my money on as well as finally paying off all of my credit cards. I just finished paying off two of them, thank God.