Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ari's Choices for Color Me Brown Links

Every week we have Color Me Brown Links. This grew out of the Color Me Brown Challenge that was started here over the summer.

Interesting posts: What is Street Lit? at Fledgling in which Zetta Elliott interviews Vanessa Irvin Morris, a reviewer with the Library Journal.

How do you respond to critics who claim that street lit reinforces negative stereotypes and/or glamorizes illicit, dysfunctional behavior? Does street lit speak to the possibility of urban life, or only the (bleak) reality?

Negative behavior reinforces negative behavior. Literature aids in negotiating, navigating, and synthesizing life experience. Thus if the behavior is already embedded in a person or community based on life experience, literature may reflect that, but it is still the human, or community, that chooses to reinforce or evolve beyond negative behavior. Some people reading a street lit novel might say that the genre does not glamorize negative behavior. Some might say it tells it like it is. Whatever street lit is doing, I think the more important challenge is to listen to what it is saying. This contemporary phase of the genre is telling us something. It is documenting a time in American history when urban life for some residents was more intense than what mainstream culture may have realized. What is street lit trying to say to us? It is definitely shouting, because it is an incredibly prolific genre.

Neesha Meminger's post about Who Gets to Represent?In answering questions for an interview recently, it dawned on me that many books clearly for and about children/teens of colour seem to fall under "educational," while much of the fun, romance, and adventure reads feature all-white casts, written for a clearly-targeted white audience, by white authors.

Two thoughts on that: 1) Must we consistently get lumped into the "to study" category? And 2) While I'm glad that Bloomsbury is publishing books with characters of colour, I resent the implication that I should be *grateful* for this, as if publishers are doing PoC a favour by representing the world as it truly is. And as if white authors are doing children/teens of colour a favour by doing the same thing. Why aren't people expected to reflect the world with all its true colours?

When white authors write characters of colour, their careers are not hindered. In fact, they may get the traditional pat-on-the-back response whenever the privileged represent those they have privilege over. When authors of colour write books featuring white protagonists and all-white casts, their careers are not negatively impacted. I am not applauded or thanked when I write white characters in my books because I am expected to.

Doret's post in prasie of Simon & Schuster for diversity There has been a lot of focus on publishers Whitewashing books this past week. I think this is a very good thing if publishers realize people are paying attention, things will change. At the same time I think publishers who are getting it right should be talked up. The first publisher I said thank you for recognizing kids of color was Candlewick

Today its Simon & Schuster. I've been thinking about doing this post for awhile now. Though I knew it was time when realized Bleeding Violet - Dia Reeves debut novel is published by an S&S imprint. I just finished the novel and really enjoyed it. (review to come) I loved the main character Hanna. Its very rare to see a YA fantasy novel with a main character of color written by an author of color. If that's not shout out worthy I don't know what is.

I don't know when I started paying attention to who publishers what, but I do especially when it comes to diversity.

Reviews: One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni at Good Books & Good Wine

I enjoyed the diverse cast of characters. There was Cameron, the African-American who had a fabulous story about why he wanted to visit India. Mangalam, the boss of the consulate who has an interesting reason to be in America. Lily, the Chinese-American teenager and her grandmother - I think I loved Lily's story the most. Tariq - a young man strong in his Islamic beliefs. Mr. and Mrs. Pritchett - the only white characters, Mr. Pritchett's story literally made my eyes water. I know you probably expect each character's story to have a common thread, but they don't. Each story shared offers a glimpse into the life of a character which left me wanting more than just the single look.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier at Book Gazing
But what if the narrator’s untrustworthy nature were never a secret to be revealed? What if right away they admit they are a liar, but promise not to lie to the reader? What if they later offer up lies, alongside truth and more lies and some very ambiguous descriptions? What if they say they know their lies make you less likely to believe them? That’s the kind of company Larbalestier leaves her readers in and by the end it’s very hard to keep faith with any one interpretation of the story because all narrative trust is undermined, but also because all narrative trust is reinforced. still managing to make them dance as she wishes, thereby further exposing the reader’s complete reliance on the narrator when only one point of view is available.

Leave your links in the comments.


thestonebow said...

I love the quote about street lit. So true!

I share your frustration at the "to study" classification of PoC, particularly in YA lit. That seems related to the "PoC mainly exist in historical fiction written by white people" problem. I care deeply about the teens I serve, and I don't want my teens (particularly my ToC) to be forced to read either historical fiction about ToC, or contemporary fiction about white teens. Thankfully, there are great titles available, and thankfully, there are great bloggers getting the word out about them. Keep being awesome!

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

I read about your blog over at Women Unbound. I recently reviewed a book, Sugar by Bernice McFadden, that you might be interested in. Wasn't sure where to post the link for you -- here or over at WU.

Color Online said...

Hi Gerbera Daisy Mom,

Welcome to Color Online. Hang out a bit.

Thanks for the link.