"In the recent report, Race, Gender and the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Expanding Our Discussion to Include Black Girls, I discuss how Black girls are disproportionately affected by punitive, zero-tolerance policies that push marginalized children out of school and toward an increased likelihood of dropout, unemployment, and incarceration. In this report, I also discuss how the “pipeline” framework, which was largely developed from the conditions and experiences of males, may limit our ability to see the ways in which Black girls are affected by instruments of surveillance (i.e., zero-tolerance policies, law enforcement in schools, metal detectors, etc.). I argue that by only emphasizing the conditions of the boys, we have effectively rendered the girls invisible in the public examination of “school-to-prison” pathways; we have prevented ourselves from properly understanding or articulating the tricky trajectory toward prison for Black girls."
"As unbelievable as [White Dude Super Detective (WDSD)] characters are, they would become infinitely more so if their race or gender were changed. In The Mentalist, WDSD Patrick Jane once grifted clients as a fake psychic, but now works as a hard-to-control resource for the California Bureau of Investigations. What if the Jane character were a Latino ex-grifter? Would his arrogance and propensity for sneaking into suspect’s homes and accusing wealthy businessmen of impropriety read as quirky and charming? Would anyone believe that a police force would allow such behavior? Could the Scotland Yard of fantasy be down with a coke-addicted black Sherlock—no matter how clever? The San Francisco police department abides Adrian Monk’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, as the FBI allows Perception’s Dr. Daniel Pierce to assist on cases, despite his unmedicated schizophrenia and paranoia, which results in hallucinations. Could a black woman be cast in those roles to the same effect? I submit, that even in the fictional worlds of literature and television, race and gender matter. Belief can only be suspended so far. And this archetype is reliant on power that comes with white maleness in American society."
The Atlantic: It sounds like you're saying that literary "talent" doesn't inoculate a writer—especially a male writer—from making gross, false misjudgments about gender. You'd think being a great writer would give you empathy and the ability to understand people who are unlike you—whether we're talking about gender or another category. But that doesn't seem to be the case.
Junot Diaz: I think that unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations. Without fail. The only way not to do them is to admit to yourself [that] you're fucked up, admit to yourself that you're not good at this shit, and to be conscious in the way that you create these characters. It's so funny what people call inspiration. I have so many young writers who're like, "Well I was inspired. This was my story." And I'm like, "OK. Sir, your inspiration for your stories is like every other male's inspiration for their stories: that the female is only in there to provide sexual service." There comes a time when this mythical inspiration is exposed for doing exactly what it's truthfully doing: to underscore and reinforce cultural structures, or I'd say, cultural asymmetry.
I pictured Oct. 31: my handsome, sturdy brown-skinned son in a flowing wig and poofy dress, tiara sparkling atop his head. I saw us trick-or-treating in our New Jersey suburb, going from one colonial to the next, our neighbors asking “And what are you, uh, little girl?” as they dropped candy in his bag after a curious glance at me.
I could handle that. Like Bug, I didn’t mind going against the grain. Also, the simple fact that one of my sons could express himself was a blessing. If he wanted to be a princess, then darn it, he’d be a royal She.
But when I browsed for costumes, I felt uneasy. In the princess section, long wigs were the color of spun gold. Even Snow White’s silky tresses glistened through the cellophane, the opposite texture of my son’s coarse hair. Whether it was Cinderella or her fairy godmother, each package showed a picture of a smiling white woman who glowed. “You, too, can be me,” she beckoned, “for this one special day.”
I left the store in a panic. I didn’t care if my son wanted to be a princess. I just didn’t want him to want to be a white princess.
"The thing about patriarchy is that individual men, gay and straight, are often really wonderful people who you love deeply, but they have internalized some really poisonous shit. So every once in a while they say or do something that really shakes you because you’re no longer totally certain they see you as a human being, and you feel totally disempowered to explain that to them."
—This happens to me all the time, and it always hits me like a slap in the face. (via lasluchasdelcorazon)
While discussing the overarching theme of family - specifically parenthood - in a novel, my professor said this of a character who had adopted a child: “X is a father, too. Well, not a real father, but kind of one.” None of my classmates took issue.
I am an 18 year old man who is sterile. Distraught by others’ perceptions of adoption and parenthood. I guess that I can only ever be “kind of” a dad.