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How Tressie McMillan Cottom's 'Thick' Affirmed My Years-Long Refusal Of Body Positivity Language
"Beauty only works if someone is not."



"Beauty is a global economy and a vital component in industries not directly related to it. But it’s not something progressive women and men want to believe is completely constructed. It’s easy for us to acknowledge the standards of beauty that exist, say, on a Victoria’s Secret runway and the way these narrow ideals can harm women’s self-esteem. But there’s still a popular belief, guided by the principles of body positivity, that everyone is beautiful or can achieve beauty. We’re defensive about it. We all want a slice of that capital."



"McMillan Cottom challenges her readers to understand beauty as a capitalist and white supremacist structure that is, therefore, inherently inaccessible for non-white people. She points to feminist analyses of beauty standards over time, most notably Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, which women of color are excluded from simply because beauty, as a Western concept, was not designed for us. This isn’t to say that Black women and women of color can’t be beautiful to themselves or within their own communities or even span outside of them under certain conditions. Just as McMillan Cottom talks about experiencing desirability and acceptance at her historically Black college, I find comfort in similar, all-Black environments. Still, we’ve all bought into same system where beauty is a form of power and that power is oppressive."
kyndallcunningham  tressiemcmillancottom  roxanegay  beauty  race  racism  inequality  capitalism  whitesupremacy  economics  hierarchy  feminism  whiteness  desirability  power  oppression  bodies  meritocracy  2019  bodypositivity 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Welcome to Red Sauce America - Bon Appétit
"From chicken parm to clams casino, this is our celebration of the Italian-American restaurants we love.

The oversize portions. The red-and-white-checked tablecloths. A carafe of the house red. Old-school Italian-American restaurants, a.k.a. red sauce joints, are the kind of institutions you’ll find, with very few deviations, in just about any city in America. But as we discovered upon reaching out to dozens of writers, chefs, and celebrities, these restaurants are about a lot more than a plate of penne alla vodka. Whether or not you’re Italian, red sauce likely means something to you—about family, or home, or history, or politics, or class, or citizenship, or selfhood, or otherness, or all the above, or a million other things. And that’s what this package is all about. Welcome to Red Sauce America."

["A Home Is More Than a House. Sometimes It’s Also a Red Sauce Restaurant
The longer I live in Los Angeles, the more I try to find places where I feel like a thread in the fabric of something bigger than myself. Enter: Little Dom's." by Roxane Gay
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/home-red-sauce-restaurant

"When Will American Chinese Food Get the Red Sauce Treatment?
I look at the way Italian Americans have progressed from a demonized immigrant group to an unquestioned part of the country’s fabric, and I think, Damn, I want that too." by Chris Ying
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/american-chinese-food-red-sauce-treatment

"Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden
It starts with free wine samples, endless breadsticks, and keeping my expectations low." by Kristen N. Arnett
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/first-dates-olive-garden

"The Bizarre History of Buca di Beppo, America’s Most Postmodern Red Sauce Chain
How a Lutheran from central Illinois created a genre-defining Italian-American restaurant." by Priya Krishna
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/bizarre-history-buca-di-beppo ]
food  us  italianamerican  italian  brettmartin  roxanegay  hilarycadigan  mikesula  tylerkord  sarahjampel  chrisying  amielstanek  redsauce  gregelwell  priyakrishna  alizaabaranel  paulfreedman  cleopatrazuli  alexdelany  andrewknowlton  baoong  mylestanzer  madeleinedavies  clairecarusillo  lizcook  laurenlarson  mollybirnbaum  elyseinamine  jendoll  kellyconaboy  emilyschultz  brettewarshaw  alexbeggs  bobbyfinger  ericginsburg  sarahcascone  traciemcmillan  melissamccart  giuliamelucci  marissaross  careypolis  kristenarnett  maggielange  alexpemoulie  christianelauterbach  amandashapiro  emmastraub  virginiawillis  andreknowlton  oldschool  sanfrancisco  losangeles  immigration  acceptance  families 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
We Are Many. We Are Everywhere. - The Rumpus.net
"A great deal of the conversation about publishing and diversity is grounded in the idea that there simply aren’t many writers of color. One of the most frequent derailments during any conversation about this topic is the belief that because of historical, institutional racism and the socioeconomic consequences thereof, there simply aren’t as many writers of color. It’s also popular to create an exhausting statistical frenzy by talking about data collection and submission ratios and the like. These are comforting explanations. If we can blame history and institutional racism, if we can blame math, we don’t have to accept responsibility for reading narrowly.

Like many editors and writers, I cannot say I know a great many writers of color. I don’t have all the answers but in my gut, I knew there were many writers of color even if we don’t find them in the major magazines and journals. In addition to a great many writers of color, there are also blogs, book groups, book clubs, writer’s networks, workshops, magazines, presses, and organizations all dedicated to working with writers of color in some fashion. Where do you find writers of color? Beyond mainstream publications and organizations, you could check out White Readers Meet Black Authors, The Asian-American Writers’ Workshop, VONA, the APOOO Book Club, Go On Girl, Cave Canem, Kundiman, Racialicious, Color Lines, The Root, Kartika Review, Callaloo, Cha, The African American Review, DesiLit, Melanated Writers Collective, The Radius of Arab American Writers, Mizna: Prose, Poetry, and Art Exploring Arab America, and on and on. Organizations for writers of color aren’t designed to keep white people away. You can learn more about the diverse writing community simply by paying attention to these organizations.

Earlier this summer, I put out a call for names of writers of color so there might be a resource to help people read and publish more diversely. This list was not designed to pigeonhole writers or suggest that they should be identified by race or ethnicity. These are writers who also happen to be people of color. This is not a token list of writers to go to when you need someone to write about race—these writers write about a wide range of subjects. Some of these writers are familiar and others are up and coming. I’ve listed the writers in alphabetical order by first name with genre and online presence information provided by the individuals who put the names forth. As such, this information is incomplete but it is a start, a compass point to orient you.

There are a great many writers who are not on this list. That is the point of all this. You cannot possibly list every writer of color working today. We are many. We are everywhere. The world of letters is far more diverse than the publishing climate would lead us to believe. You only need to open your eyes and open your mind. I challenge everyone to pick five (or more) writers from this list with whom you are not familiar, look up their work, see what these writers are about.

It isn’t hard to find writers of color. All you have to do is read."

[via: http://nicoleslaw.com/post/108129652119/reading-list ]
books  diversity  booklists  roxanegay  2012  via:nicolefenton 
january 2015 by robertogreco
nicoleslaw: Reading List
"Working through a stack of wonderful books from women of color and I just want to say thank you. (Finished several of these already and I bought Ms. Angelou’s entire collection for Kindle before getting my library card, but I want to wait before reading the next one.)

• Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
• Redefining Realness, Janet Mock
• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
• Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde
• The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, Audre Lorde
• Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks
• All About Love, bell hooks
• Trauma Queen, Lovemme Corazón
• The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse, Louise Erdrich
• Women Reading Women Writing, Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde
• Lost in Language & Sound, Or, How I Found My Way to the Arts, Ntozake Shange
• Some of Us Did Not Die, June Jordan

Relatedly, Roxane posted a long list of writers of color on the Rumpus in 2012. Just found this, but it’s quite a gift. [http://therumpus.net/2012/08/we-are-many-we-are-everywhere/ ]"
nicolefenton  booklists  2015  roxanegay  janetmock  mayaangelou  audrelorde  bellhooks  lovemmecorazón  louiseerdrich  paulagunnallen  gloriaanzaldúa  ntozakeshange  junejordan 
january 2015 by robertogreco
How Has Twitter Changed the Role of the Literary Critic? - NYTimes.com
"You’d think. And in the case of the medium’s best publishing-industry practitioners — people like Kathryn Schulz, Maud Newton, Laura Miller and Ron Charles, who marry reverence for Literature with a capital L with a breezy, personal tone — it is. But among others, I suspect there’s more at work than discomfort with the form’s limitations. It may not be a coincidence that in contrast to the shameful gender ratio endemic to so many literary publications, some of the most widely read critics on Twitter are women. One might argue that many critics’ outright dismissal of the technology is directly related to their feelings of privilege. “Some of these people don’t need to be on Twitter because they already have all the access they need,” the fiction writer and critic Roxane Gay told me."
twitter  via:robinsloan  access  writing  adamkirsch  philgyford  samuelpepys  annaholmes  jonathanfranzen  robinsloan  roxanegay 
october 2013 by robertogreco

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