“When Defending Your Writing Becomes Defending Yourself”

Just wanted to share really quickly:

Matthew Salesses has a new article up on NPR’s Code Switch blog and it’s definitely worth a read:

When Defending Your Writing Becomes Defending Yourself

Where he cites me it’s from a conversation we had through Twitter DMs about our experiences as writers of color in white-dominant workshops.

I’ve been trying really hard to talk more openly about my experiences as a woman writer of color. It’s hard for me to pry the lid off that topic, and I hate it. But obviously that comes from years of training, years of trying to blend in and getting pretty damn good at it. And that’s exactly what needs to change. More of us need to start discussing this loudly. Turn up the volume so people will stop shutting it out.

Another piece that Matt wrote a couple years ago on The Rumpus that is also such an incredibly important read:

Different Racisms: On Jeremy Lin and How the Rules of Racism Are Different for Asian Americans

I’d read that piece just a week or so before the specific incident in my workshop that Matt mentions in his NPR thing. And that evening, after the workshop happened and I walked away feeling only numb, I went home and reread the part about Don Lee over and over again:

I will always be grateful to Don Lee’s story collection, Yellow. In Lee’s stories, Asian American characters experience racist incident after racist incident, but these incidents are mostly background to their lives as sculptors, surfers, lovers, etc. The characters are very much of the world in which they live, the world in which I lived and a different world than the one in which white people live with the privilege of their color. In class, the white students were incredulous. They claimed such acts of racism could never happen with such frequency.

In response to the students who didn’t believe the frequency/viciousness of the racism inYellow, the professor showed us an interview in which Lee says every incident in the book has happened to him.


I don’t know what else to say here. There’s no way to make this blog post feel finished, because the conversation is simply not over.

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