Saturday, November 02, 2013

Diversity a food group best served frío

I'm supposed to eat from each of the food groups, not just meat and chile. When I get an apple or carrots, I can feel I met the obligation. Americanos very often treat Chicanos, and latinos in general, the same way. As if brown people were part of the Colored Diversity Food Group, consisting of ALL non-white people. Call it a white potatoes, Anglo-centric worldview.

If you're in the middle of this Anglo-centric world, then EVERYBODY else is the Non-Anglo Other; it's you on the one hand and all THEM on the other. If the producers of a TV program want to appear to be culturally "sensitive" to a multinational audience, they'll assume that including one "colored" character from the "diversity group" fulfills that obligation. Not so.

What about latinos on SNL?

In an AP article yesterday, the topic was the lack of black female comedians on Saturday Night Live.
One of the shows white-male comedians explained this: "The producers never find ones that are ready.” NOTHING was explained about the lack of latinos, although the article's author, David Bauder, did at least mention, "There has often been criticism through the years that late-night comedy in general is a boy's club, particularly a white boy's club. There aren't any Asians or Hispanics on the show either, male or female."

The fact that the SNL comedians and producers never talked about latino comedians is one example of the Diversity Food Group mentality--they didn't need to because talking about blacks fulfilled their Diversity Food Group obligation.

US latino lit NO must-read?

At Esquire magazine, you can read the "Greatest Books Ever Written" list of The 80 Books Every Man Should Read. It's described as, "An unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published." [my emphasis] To my knowledge, none of the 80 include a female, which would obviously be part of their sex-biased mentality.

Black male writers Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright are on the list, but not one U.S. male latino is included. Jorge Luis Borges is the only latino. (It's strange that Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez didn't make their cut.) In this case, using the Diversity Food Group guide, I assume Esquire's thinking was, "We got one South American latino; that'll cover U.S. latinos, too."

Esquire should've read the words of Anglo author Russell Banks, included in their list: "I accepted that I was obliged to have African American friends. I was obliged to address deliberately the overlapping social and racial contexts of my life. I'm a white man in a white-dominated, racialized society; therefore, if I want to, I can live my whole life in a racial fantasy. Most white Americans do just that. Because we can. In a color-defined society we are invited to think that white is not a color. We are invited to fantasize and we act accordingly." Esquire's list is a great example of such "living in a racial fantasy."

No kids' latino classics?

Seems like some of the Anglo-centrics just won't give a latino a break. Speaking of racial fantasies, check out The New York Review of Books Children’s Collection, described as "Time-honored classics for children of all ages." [ages 3-14] It's for children of all ages, if you exclude any "colored" kids and you believe that Anglo kids don't need to realize they live on a multi-racial, multinational planet.

Of course there are authors from England--lots of them--but not one First Voice latino, author or book, from any continent. Using the Diversity Food Group paradigm, I suppose they think they filled their obligation to broadening children's horizons by the couple of Asian-themed books. Is there even one about blacks or indios?

So the next time you need an example of how biased U.S. publishers are, you can use NYRB to make your point. NOT one latino, Chicano, puertoriqueño, mexicanos author or book deserves to be considered "a time-honored classic for children of all ages."

Nerds of Color

Better than the Diversity Food Group approach, a post that I quote at length contains a rich set of information about diversity in spec lit. It has much more material that deserves checking out. La Bloga is mentioned.

On his website, latino Daniel José Older explains how he put together a "round table of writers and editors to imagine an anti-oppressive SFF community at Strange Horizons." It's called Set Truth on Stun: Reimagining an Anti-Oppressive SF/F.

He reports about his #DiversityInSFF hashtag "to the longstanding, often-ignored, ever-trolled, much-needed convos about race and gender, privilege and science fiction/fantasy that have been going on since the dawn of time. For a few weeks Twitter was all aflame with debates, links and related shenanigans. Backlash against those who speak out has come in the form of death and rape threats, hate mail, doubling down on sexist-racist-homophobic-ableist material, and mind-numbingly nonsensical counter-arguments. [my emphasis]

"In a recent Guest of Honor speech at the Continuum convention in Sydney, Nora Jemisin said: "we must now make an active, conscious effort to establish a literature of the imagination which truly belongs to everyone.

"I asked a group of writers, editors, and publishers to imagine in both practical and fantastical ways what the SciFi and fantasy community would look like if it was actively anti-oppressive. This conversation took place over email in August 2013."

"Most notably, Tor added an explicit diversity statement to their submission guidelines. [Tor is a major US spec publisher.]

"As always, there have been precious, panicked pleas to avoid quotas and to remember the importance of quality, as if a demand for diversity is synonymous with a higher tolerance for mediocrity. These pleas arise any time the marginalized demand to be heard and those making their needless pleas realize the status quo is about to change.

"What does it say about writers that it is easier to imagine creating an alien species and alien worlds than it is to create a non-white and/or heterosexual and/or male and/or differently abled and/or working-class humanoid character in a non-Western setting?

"We see such reticence to approach difference in fiction, across genres and it is, in part, understandable but it is also a bit offensive, this notion that underrepresented people are so different and mysterious, so far from the dominant understanding of normal, we dare not even try to write their experiences."

Daniel José Older is author of the latino spec collection Salsa Nocturna. He’s co-editing the anthology, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From The Margins Of History [submissions now closed].

Diversity submissions wanted

From their website: "We encourage diversity in publishing: authors are chosen regardless of sex, gender, race or ethnicity. Non-US authors, or authors who usually work in a different genre, are also welcome.

Flash: Stories of less than 1,000 words.
Short Fiction: Stories of 1,001 to 2,500 words.
Poetry: Any length.

Diversity call for spec subs

From Twelfth Planet Press comes this: "The beautiful Kaleidoscope backers have pushed us over the $7k mark, and we are now open to submissions! Please send us your stories, and/or tell your writer friends about us. We are interested in seeing stories from anyone at all, and we’re especially looking forward to seeing submissions written by people whose voices tend to be underrepresented."

From Arte Público Press

Will the Taco win?

It seems today is Esquire's day on my chopping block and not even our food gets a break. (Thanks for the material, boys.) Continuing with the food group theme, in the article Why The Taco Cannot Win, Josh Ozersky writes:
"At least three times a year somebody announces that fast-food tacos are an all-conquering force; or, "For American Restaurant Chains, the Future Is Mexican." While this may well be true in terms of their hiring practices, it's not so in any other way and never has been. Not in even the most dystopian of food futures will tacos ever be our dominant foodstuff. [my emphasis]

"Fast-food tacos are cheap, because they are made from sawdust and beef drippings. Mexican-themed chains do a very lucrative volume business. All Mexican-themed restaurants do; the format offers the greatest profit potential this side of organ harvesting.

"But that doesn't make it food. In a country where 47 million people are on food stamps, a lot of people are feeding their families on hamburgers, which are still the most wholesome of all fast foods, in my opinion."

Ozersky sometimes tries so hard to be funny and cute that he steps in some of his own "sawdust and beef drippings." Dumping on Taco Bell is like kicking the crippled kid. But in expressing his opinion, he Anglo-centrically manages to trash Mexican food, restaurants and the loyal customers of such places, us. He'd do well do read Gustavo Arellano's Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. And then go eat a taco.

Es todo, hoy,


ggwritespoetry said...

What a great article...This so reminded me of the scene in the movie, Judge Dredd, where he finds out that all restaurants are Taco Bell...I wish all restaurants were Taquerias...I could go for having pozole every morning anywhere I go in the United States...but then again, I do like a good pancake too.

Anonymous said...

Thx, GG. "Everywhere is Taco Bell?" No, like you said, "Everywhere is taquería!"

Adrian said...

Now that was funny! I get your view on anglo-centrism in this country, and I agree with it too, mostly. I am a regular watcher of SNL and I have been reading Esquire for a decade. I know SNL tries to go for talent, and I don't necessarily think they care about achieving diversity. I think they'd be cool with running a cast of all colors if that would get them the ratings and laughs, but maybe I'm wrong about that. How many Latinos watch SNL anyways? How many read Esquire? I don't know, but I think the power in our numbers lies in our voice, vote, and economic power. We can start by reading Latino, watching Latino (media), and helping each other rise up as the powerful force in the market that we can be. Only then, by demand, will the center shift from strictly anglo to something more representative -just like the tacos. Anyways, that's my two cents; I appreciate your voice out here. thanks!