Saturday, December 14, 2013

Assimilate our writing?, on-line pitch, books for kids, reverse racism humor

Yesterday's La Bloga post by Manuel Ramos reminded me of a couple of Mao's sayings: "Let a hundred flowers bloom." and "It is right to rebel."

The flowers it brought to mind are those of U.S. latino literature that La Bloga covers. The authors of such works also face of a question of "rebelling" to get their work published in the U.S. Should they emulate established, successful Anglo authors or create something new? I quote from an article this month by Daniel José Older, at length, because his insights apply to all genres of writing. The article's entitled Another World Waits: Towards an Anti-Oppressive SFF. It's a great contribution to the Latino Spec Lit Dialogue.

Daniel José Older
"I want to recognize a more unspoken consequence of having a mostly white industry dictate mostly white standards to a mostly white author–base: the stories that won’t get told.

"I want to be heard. I know who the gatekeepers are. Writing and, more so, publishing, is always a negotiation between what you want to say, what you can say, and what society will allow you to say. The censorship happens on many levels, at every step of the game. It doesn’t have to be so obvious as that doesn’t happen, because the insidiousness of race in America reaches deep inside each of us, keeps us second–guessing and analyzing, wondering if we’ve gone crazy.

"We know this: the publishing world is overwhelmingly white. Writers of color puzzle over rejection letters that say things like, “Great writing and story but I didn’t identify with the main character.” What are we to do with such a comment? Write more universal characters, some will say. Universal has become an empty word; it generally indicates a false neutral that more or less resembles whiteness. Do we then write the character as we imagine the white imagination imagines people of color? How many layers of fantasy and identity must we breach to walk that delicate line between truth-telling and pacifying?

"The problem demands we step back from traditional understandings of making it and redraw those lines for ourselves; sometimes with tears, sometimes fire. There is no map; there is no path — we make it by walking, as the poem asks of us. And we can’t do it alone.

"Instead of cringing when we look at the manmade fault lines that divide us, let’s hold them up to the light, honestly confront how they’ve privileged us and held us back, how we relate to them, how we buck being defined by them but are sometimes are anyway. It is challenging: we’re not trained to do it, we have no real language to do it, but this is what makes great literature.

"How to depict other races without just making them browned version of white characters? Start by looking at power. What is your character’s relationship to institutional power? To the police? The education system? The media? Are they historical beings, connected to a community, or do they just drift in space and time? Our relationships to power don’t define us, but they’re a part of our story and, more often than not, excluded from representations in literature.

"For white people, the endless narrative of a One and Only white savior brings its own messy pathology as generations of kids grow up believing myths about their racial supremacy.

"Social media guides tell us authors not to be political, not to make waves, to keep our views to ourselves. You can read that desperate grasp at neutrality in the stale, neither–here–nor–there prose of so many tepid blog posts and overly cautious diversity statements.

"Let’s do this: let’s look into the future, shedding cynicism and idealism, and ask, what could it be like? Let’s imagine a sci–fi/fantasy literary institution, community, world, that is not only not oppressive, but anti–oppressive. One that is proactively working for social justice.

"Let’s envision a market saturated with fantasies based on cultures from Africa, Asia, and the Americas — not just for the sake of cheap exoticism: stories rooted in the cultures, philosophies and struggles of the people they depict. Stories by the people they depict. Stories that value perspectives of “Western Civilization” from people it has tried to exterminate instead of just those insistent on its inherent rightness. Let’s presage a time when facile racialized language equating, for example, evil and good with black and white, becomes as archaic and laughable a literary technique as using too many adverbs.

"Let’s be outrageous, collectively, and bring change. This demands that we cultivate creative accountability and truth-telling, that we challenge ourselves to go deeper both personally and imaginatively than we have before. But here we should find ourselves in familiar territory: we are mythmakers. We dive in, thrive in the unexplored realms, and the world is asking us to create something new, a new aesthetic, a new community. A new language, brave and delicious, to greet the coming day."

No Latino kid-books, again

Monica Olivera
If anyone still thinks U.S. publishing is wide open to accepting our work, here's this month's ad nauseum example. From Monica Olivera's NBCLatino article, No Latino children’s literature in annual book list–again.

"Last week, The New York Times released their list of "Notable Children’s Books of 2013. Once again, they failed to include a single title written by or about Latinos. In the last 10 years only one book featuring a Latino protagonist and written by a Latino author has been included in the annual list."

Pitch your book online to an agent/editor

If you have a completed manuscript you want represented, you can pitch it online for the next two days on December's #PitchMAS.

Submission guidelines: We will accept your 35-word pitch via E-mail only, beginning Sunday 12/15/13 at 9:00am PST until Monday 12/16/13 at 6:00pm PSTGo here for details on submitting.

Completed manuscripts only. The only works we are closed to at this time are poetry, graphic novels and short stories/anthologies. Pitches on Twitter are also accepted. The TOP 75 will be posted on that blog on Thursday, Dec. 19. The reads will be completed by Friday, Dec. 20. You can pitch more than one manuscript, but must follow the guidelines. 

2 quotes about the U.S. & Nelson Mandela

Recognizing/celebrating the contributions of a great man shouldn't include forgetting the dynamic between him and our country. From Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano's new book, Children of the Days, the entry entitled One Terrorist Fewer reads:
"In the year 2008, the government of the United States decided to erase Nelson Mandela's name from its list of dangerous terrorists. The most revered African in the world had featured on that sinister roll for 60 years."

From Mandela himself: "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care for human beings."

This season is "all about the children," so. . . .

If you missed out on contributing gifts for children in last week's post, here are two more that ask only for books--even used--for some of the most deprived niños in and outside of the U.S.

Capotillo Library Project, Dominican Republic
From americano-dominicano Junot Díaz comes this: The Friends of the Capotillo Library, are sponsoring a book drive for the Fundación Biblioteca Técnica de Desarrollo Humano in Capotillo, the Dominican Republic. This an independent community service organization that operates the only library in Capotillo, one of the most densely populated working poor sectors of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 
Capotillo is comprised of nearly 20 barrios and close to 100,000 inhabitants. 

El proyecto “Friends of the Capotillo Library” está patrocinando una colecta de libros para la Fundación Biblioteca Técnica de Desarrollo Humano en Capotillo, DR. Este es una organización de servicio comunitario independiente que funciona como la única biblioteca en Capotillo, una de las areas más densamente pobladas y pobres de Santo Domingo, República Dominicana.

We accept Spanish-language books for elementary school, middle school and high school levels until January 25, 2014.
Aceptaremos libros en español para la escuela primaria, escuela secundaria y los niveles de preparatoria hasta el 25 de enero de 2014.

Ways to support the Friends of the Capotillo Library / Maneras que puede apoyar el proyecto:
1. Ship new/like new books to: / Mandar libros por correo a:
La Casa Azul Bookstore, 143 E. 103rd St, NY, NY 10029. Attn: Love for Capotillo. (Bookstore will be closed 12/23/2013-1/1/2014)
2. Purchase books at La Casa Azul Bookstore in NYC.
Mention the Love for Capotillo Library Project and receive 10% off your book purchase.
Compre libros en La Casa Azul Bookstore, en East Harlem. Mencione que los libros son para el proyecto y reciba un descuento de 10% en la compra.
3. Call La Casa Azul Bookstore to purchase books over the phone.
We will take calls from December 12 - December 22 AND from January 2 - January 25, 2014. 10% discount applies to phone orders too.
Llame a la libreria y compre los libros por teléfono. Tomaremos ordenes por telefono del 12-22 de diciembre, 2013 Y del 2-25 de enero, 2014.  El 10% de descuento aplica si menciona el proyecto.
4. E-mail La Casa Azul Bookstore if you have questions.
Mande un correo electronico a la libreria si tiene preguntas:

Please send books only in new/like-new condition -- in Spanish or bilingual. More details here.

Secondly, a request from the Salud Medical Clinics in northern Colorado:
As writers and voracious readers, the idea of not being able to comprehend the written word is horrifying. Yet every day, there are hundreds of children who live in our communities who do not have a single book in their home. Children exposed to books at an early age do better in school, have fewer health issues, and ultimately earn more money than their counterparts who are not exposed to books when they are young.

The national Reach Out and Read program, in which medical personnel at participating clinics give new books instead of stickers at well-child check-ups is firmly rooted and has taken flight. The new books are even used to evaluate growth and development. However, this program relies on grant money and fundraising and only covers well child visits through a certain age.

The Salud Medical Clinics have added a complimentary program: Donated, gently-used books are now given to all children and their siblings during sick visits. By handing out used books, we are putting the gift of literacy into the hands of virtually every child that walks in the door. But the need to replenish these books never goes away.

Please become a proud supporter in the fight against illiteracy through this amazing program. Help give a “favorite story” to hundreds of children who would otherwise never know what it means to own their own book. We need gently used children's books, in any language and at all reading levels. Please drop off directly at the following Denver-area Salud locations:
Brighton 1860 Egbert St; Commerce City 6255 Quebec Parkway; Fort Collins 1635 Blue Spruce Drive; Frederick 5995 Iris Parkway; Fort Lupton 1115 Second Street; Longmont 220 E. Rogers Road.
Or, contact Anne Rhoades, Collection Coordinator, 303-946-7647 or at

Mujeres - Special Event, Denver

December 18, Museo de las Américas presents Sand Readings with Walking Thunder, 5:30-7:30.
Walking Thunder will be visiting for one night. The event is open to women only. Spaces are limited and reservations are necessary. 20 women will have the opportunity to receive a sand reading. $20 and reservations are required. R.S.V.P. to Marlyn Ruiz or 303.571.4401. Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, Denver

Yes, Virginia, there is a reverse racism.

Aamer Rahman
Globalization also means we can discover the universality of abuse and our shared ability to laugh in the face of discrimination. Chicano, latino--whatever you call yourself--you might laugh as much as I did at the cold humor of Aamer Rahman, an Australian stand-up comedian of Bangladeshi descent. He's half of the comedy show Fear of a Brown Planet. After you're busted up from mall prowling, watch his short take on reverse discrimination that could have come from any raza-American comedian.

Es todo, hoy,

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