the philosophactivist

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Diversifying the Stacks (book shelves that is)

We really need more queer and trans writers of color. Now, of course this desire partially comes from me wanting to read perspectives and issues similar to my own,  but I also say this for the greater good. It's not just about me not being able to relate to book after book after book - it's about a very monotone and singular perspective that we (people of color and others) have been subjected to for far too long. I get an instant breath of fresh air when I read Baldwin, Butler, Morraga, Chin, etc. Though I'm sure our life experiences are very different- I appreciate writings from people who have experienced similar oppression. When I read stories that actually have an analysis of the way that race (in more than a Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom way or just an outsiders perspective on what it's like to be brown or black), class, gender and sexuality intersect and affect our lives , I am giddy (yes, giddy) and excited. Relieved that something is being published from a perspective other than our colonizers. We need more memoirs and science fiction and poetry and creative non-fiction and...and...and...the sky is the limit.

I know that it is hard enough for people of color to get their stories published, so what about queer and trans POCs? I see them here and there blogging, in Zines, and on youtube. I see us organizing more and more in New York City, Oakland, and I'm sure many other places. But I ask- where are our stories? We need to write them. I want to see more brown and black trans folks talking about their transitions or writing characters like themselves. Oh. There's that giddiness again. The same kind I get when I see black or brown queer and trans characters on television series and movies. I know that there are real barriers for us getting our stories out there into the mainstream. We have to go through all kinds of gatekeepers. I'm sure that there aren't too many people sympathetic to queer and trans POC literature. Also, many of us have a history of oral traditions and might not be eager to get things into print. After all, books...literature...are all from the colonizers. Wouldn't it be great if we could all sit around telling our stories and tales around a fire like our ancestors did? to make it happen...sigh.

Diversity! We need to diversify our literature. How are we to understand each other if we're always seeing the same perspective? Hearing the same voice? I want to make it clear that I don't say this because I think our voices need to be validated but because we need to be able to heal through talking about our own experiences. It's also important for us to see that we're not alone in our experiences. I was once part of a QPOC writer's circle and it felt exhilirating to be able to tell  our stories together and encourage each other to write our experiences. For many writing is healing and this healing could inspire others. I know that there will be more and more QPOC writers soon. I'd like to encourage  people to write their own experiences and write the stories they wish to see- the ones they can't find on shelves or and I will do the same.

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