Thursday, September 9, 2010

CMB (Color Me Brown)

Color Me Brown are weekly roundups of links of interests. We link to reviews, interviews, articles/discussion posts, anything that has to do with literature and PoC. Usually we include five links. Please leave a link to a note-worthy post you came across in the comments!

And feel free to email any member of the staff with a link you find interesting. We can't read everything (no matter how hard we try!) so we appreciate the tips.

First up we have at Love YA Lit an interview with author Zetta Elliott (have you read A Wish After Midnight yet? A must read for every.single.person.)

Love YA Lit: It seems like you had several goals with A Wish After Midnight – to create characters that urban youth of color could connect with, to make transparent the connection between what is generally considered terrorism today and the history of racial violence in this country, to introduce readers to aspects of history often left untouched by textbooks, and to create a magical tale set not in some fancy manor in England, but in a garden in Brooklyn. Was there a certain starting point for the story or a primary goal? How did this all come together in one novel?

Zetta Elliott: One of my female students asked me that recently. I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to design a life that allows me to focus on my interests—ALL the time! I teach black feminist cultural criticism, I studied representations of racial violence in graduate school, I’m interested in the symptoms and responses to trauma, and I grew up believing in magic. Add to that my love for Brooklyn, and I couldn’t have written anything BUT A Wish After Midnight! I write the books I wish I’d had as a child, and I try to honor my varied experiences. It took me a long time to let go of the shame I was made to feel as a teen simply because I was a black girl who liked Jane Austen, New Edition, and Duran Duran. James Baldwin said to “trust your experience,” and that’s what I try to do.

Then at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy we have a review of The Aristobrats.

Ikea (“pronounced I-kay-a, like the exotic African lodge where she was conceived, not I-kee-ya, like the un-exotic Swedish furniture store“), is one of the few children of color at Wallingford and the only African American girl in her class. She’s Miss Preppy and under tremendous pressure from her attorney father to go to Yale, just like he did. When Ikea is introduced, she has glossy straight hair and hazel eyes. She gets annoyed that people think she should date the only African American boy at Wally. A scene midway through the book shows Ikea sits in the bathroom straightening her hair with a hot comb and putting in contact lenses to hide her brown eyes. The Aristobrats raise questions abouts beauty and the under-representation of children of color at Wallingford, without being a heavy-handed message book.

This next link is a bit older but I adored Thomas Chatterton Williams' memoir, Losing My Cool, so I simply had to share this. From MyBrownBaby. It's about the author's fear of his very high SAT score. What will his friends say? Read the post, then buy his memoir. An excellent read.

The thing is that I was one of a handful of students in the entire school—and the only black student in my graduating class, which had a considerable black and Latino minority—to receive a perfect score on any of the various College Board exams. I was also very definitely not trying to draw attention to this fact—at least not in front of my black hip-hop- and sports-obsessed peers. Along with a quick stutter-step dribble and a reliable pull-up jumper, I’d worked hard to develop the ability to keep it real. What that meant for my friends and me, “keeping it real,” was that we devoted our lives to sports and rapping, to pulling mad shorties, and to throwing the hands whenever disrespected, but we did not give a damn about book learning or what my father, Pappy, called “the life of the mind.” For years, I’d been leading a double existence of sorts, checking my cool at the door after school and studying for the SATs with Pappy as though my whole world hinged on it. Most of my friends had no idea what I did at home.

Another letter to Borders! This one is by Tricia Sullivan

I'm not seeing a post-racial society reflected in the book industry. Only in the last year in YA fiction, Justine Larbalestier's Liar and Jacyln Dolamore's Magic Under Glass raised public outcry online when their publishers proposed selling the books with whitewashed covers. There was an outcry from readers and the covers were indeed, changed. However, if booksellers like Borders will not stock books featuring people of color on the covers, then it gets harder to blame the publishers alone.

In fact, it's not a stretch to see why it is hard to find publishers for books by and about people of color in the first place. After all, publishers will only acquire what they think they can sell. The argument coming from booksellers and publishers alike seems to be that consumers do not buy books with people of color on the cover. This sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me. I buy lots of books by authors of color--in fact, I seek them out. But sometimes I have to shop online to get the books

Last, but not least! Author Mitali Perkins has a list of Funny Books Featuring Multicultural Protagonists. Bookmark it! Below is a sample

Young Adult

FREAK MAGNET by Andrew Auseon
SHE'S SO MONEY by Cherry Cheva
WHALE TALK by Chris Crutcher
WE WERE HERE by Matt De La Peña

Have a great week!


Liz B said...

Thanks for the link!

Jennifer Solow, the author of ARISTOBRATS, left a great comment at SLJ your readers may be interested in, about being a white author writing an authentic teen of color.

MissAttitude said...

I read the comment and I was happy to see that the author responded to the review. I'mv very intersted in reading the book because based on a few scenes you mentioned, I think the author may 'get' it better than most.

Hopefully our readers will see the comment when they click on the review!

Em said...

I love all these links! Thanks for sharing (and thanks for including ours!)!

jennifer solow said...

Thanks everyone for your thoughts on The Aristobrats. I feel honored to have gotten your attention!
Jennifer Solow,
Bestselling author of The Aristobrats