who looks like me…

there are no people who look lke me on the staff of the CRW department at the university I attend.  I wonder why that is…

I’ve taken 4 classes in the department (I’m a psych major with aspirations of a minor in CRW), and not only are there not instructors who look like me but it is very rare that we read the works of people who look like me.  In my intro to poetry class we did, but that’s almost stereotypical because of course we would be present in poetry, but not one Langston Hughes, or Zora Neale Hurston, no Paul Laurence Dunbar.  And in the fiction class not one mention of Richard Wright, or James Baldwin.  When they mention classics I need to see some of these names in the mix.  To me Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar are the classics. 

So I asked myself why? I came up with thre possible senarios:

1.  They just don’t think that diversity on staff is important.

2.  They don’t feel that African American writers have anything of import to contribute.

3.  They don’t care one way or the other.

If number one is the case then that could mean that they don’t care if students who look like me (even occasionally) would feel mor comfortable reading works by writers who can relate to their daily existence.  Or maybe it’s that students who don’t look like me would not value the works of writers who look like me and share the same reality.  If that’s the case then the powers that be or that hands that hold the purse strings are so far removed from reality that they don’t realize that the popularity of hip hop and it’s ability to purchase bling and make it rain millions at a strip[ club has to do with the purchasing power of their teens and early twenties, at the music section of Americans retailers both on and offline (white kids buy).

If it’s number two and they believe that African American writers have nothing of import to contribute then I offer, Some of the previously mentioned writers and Maya Angelou, Dr. Martin Luther King and contemporary writers Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, Omar Tyree, ad infinitum.  We are just like every other race or ethnicity as unique and different as snowflakes and the same as grains of sand.  We live, we hurt we laugh, we suffer.  Some of us are interesting in our lack of interest or interaction with the world.  Our secrets are just as interesting as our reasons for keeping them and our reasons for telling them.  Every story is not of poverty, every dream is not of freedom.  We have as many and diverse stories as there are people who look like me to tell them.  So why would a university with a writing program that is so prolific with its own magazine ignore people who look like me on its staff?  I think it’s because they are too busy feeling their oats, congratulation each other on the number of published writers they have on staff.  But one day…one day they are going to woo me, an Alumnus of this university to head up their African American Writers and writing program, and I will after much consideration, agree.  and then I will introduce them to MY classics, OUR classics.  And I will teach them the beauty of “I’m the Morning” by PLD and they will come to appreciate the diversity of the black writer who so effectively “wears the mask”.  And I will have Bishop Vashti McKenzie as the keynote speaker of writers week and she will talk about he book “Not Without A Struggle” which chronicles her rise to the position of first female Bishop in the Historic AME Church.  Saul Williams will perform his poetry in the big auditorium (sha Klack klack and all),  and Kimerla Lawson Roby will discuss the difficulty of an unknown African American female breaking into the fiction writing business. And they will rename the writing lab after me and a nationwide scholarship shall be created in my honor for non-traditional female students of color who want to pursue a degree in creative writing and then…then I will wake up and realize that nobody really cares what I think…except me.


~ by Diva2de on February 26, 2011.

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