Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writers Say...

Great notes from writers (taken from these top ten lists):

"Don't sit down in the middle of the woods. If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page." -- Margaret Atwood

"Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over – or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: "I'm writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job." Publisher: "That's exactly what makes me want to stay in my job." -- Geoff Dyer

"Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire." -- Geoff Dyer

"Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don't follow it." -- Geoff Dyer

"Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about ­perseverance. You've got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of ­going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That's what writing is to me: a way of ­postponing the day when I won't do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss." -- Geoff Dyer

"The first 12 years are the worst." -- Anne Enright

"Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality is made of something else. It doesn't matter how "real" your story is, or how "made up": what matters is its necessity." -- Anne Enright

"Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand." -- Anne Enright

"Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die." -- Anne Enright

"Try to think of others' good luck as encouragement to yourself." -- Richard Ford

"Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money." -- Jonathan Franzen

"It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction." -- Jonathan Franzen

"The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." -- Neil Gaiman

All the top ten lists are worth a read. Some are just laugh-out-loud hilarious :D. Check 'em out.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Support New York Area Public Libraries!

I'm reposting a note from a fierce librarian who put this appeal on a listserv we are both on. Many thanks to the wonderful Yesha Naik for bringing much needed attention to such an important issue!

"please consider supporting your local library and libraries in two ways:
1-- Monetary support -- yes, *donate*, (money, not books!) please

How to donate---- (the following are three Separate library systems. Yes,
really!:-) )

A. Brooklyn Public Library -
B. New York Public Library -
C. Queens Public -

2. Political support - free to you, yet sends a strong message to
politicians that this is a crucial service that* cannot* be cut.

*How* to send a message:----

Here's *why *you should help:
In case you'd like to know, here are ways (with example links) in which NY
area public libraries support their communities, besides providing access to
free books and internet access:
1. free ESOL classes -,
2. free GED/ pre GED classes -
3. free Job search help -
4. free computer classes for senior citizens -
5. free computer classes for immigrants (in their native languages) -
6. free programs for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their parents -
7. free afterschool programs for teens (like Creative Writing workshops,
TeenTime) -
8. free afterschool programs for kids (like Arts and Crafts, Gaming) -
9. free access for incarcerated citizens who desire to read but are not
allowed access unless a librarian visits with a floating collection -
10. and More...."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Fabulous Olugbemisola, Part Two

Here is the rest of my interview with Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. Again, make sure you check out her book, EIGHTH GRADE SUPERZERO, and check out her website for info about appearances and booksignings!

NM: I especially loved the family scenes in this novel. Whether it was Reggie's family (refreshing to see a *functional* working class black family!) or Charlie and his mom, or the folks at the shelter who were another sort of family. The sibling rivalry between Reggie and Monica was particularly right on the mark - I have a younger brother and we were very much at each other like that, but with this current of fierce loyalty underlying it all. Did you draw upon your own family experiences for these scenes?

ORP: Heh! Thank you. I loved writing the family scenes, and had a lot more that just couldn't fit. My sister and I didn't have the kind of relationship Reggie and Monica had. I have a couple of friends who did...Monica and Reggie were so much fun to write. In the earliest incarnations, Monica was even more of an antagonist -- she and Donovan even teamed up on occasion!  I really loved exploring how both siblings were struggling with image and identity, and how they bonded in that struggle, while always remaining wholly themselves (I hope).
NM: That's always the struggle for me, too - making the characters as true to themselves as possible.
Tell me about the election. I'm thinking you were probably writing or revising SUPERZERO around the last US election. In fact, you've even mentioned Obama in the novel. Did the US presidential election influence the way you wrote about the election in the book? In what ways?

ORP: I definitely added a few things in later drafts to refer to the election. I think that at a couple of points I tried to allude to the sense of hope/change that emanated from a lot of the response to President Obama's campaign, and some of the opposing ideas that come into play when we consider the role of goverment and politics in our lives. The concept of moral courage came up a lot for me during the election, and that did fit in well with the themes in the book...There were a couple of sarcastic references as well...and the now-President's path was very familiar to me, I've known many young men and women in similar situations, etc.
NM: I really like that term, "moral courage." I think it sums up a lot of what I struggle with on a daily basis. And yes, the election in '08 really brought much of that to the fore.
I recently did a school visit for readers around the target age for SUPERZERO's readership and couldn't help but recommend it to them. What do you hope young readers will walk away with after reading this story?

ORP: Oh, thank you, Neesha! I think that I hope that those readers might think a bit about who they are, what they stand for, and how that's expressed in their lives on a daily basis. That there are many ideas of heroism, and sometimes that "still, small voice" is the most heroic one. There is one moment in the book that I believe is Reggie's most heroic, and I think it might not be the most obvious.  I believe that there has to be room, in any idea of activism, or any sort of forward movement, for the baby steps, the whispering voices, the quiet thinkers, for taking a few steps backward. And for all of us who come hard sometimes, and soft at others, to know that we don't have to fit into anyone's, even our own, boxes.
I hope that readers know that I am writing to them from that place in myself that is both broken-hearted and beautiful to that same place in them; that I'm hoping that we meet and are transformed in some way together. That we're all imperfect, self-conscious, want more, don't even know what the questions are sometimes, much less the answers...and we can all get beyond ourselves, even in very small ways, to make a difference in this world.
NM: That answer brought tears to my eyes. Especially the part about, "don't even know what the questions are sometimes." One thing I've learned and know is absolutely true is that there are no absolutes. That everything is as right as it is wrong and most of the time, I don't *really* know which category things fall into. Especially when I think I'm right *grin*.
And now, the classic: What's next? Not just what book are you working on now (that too), but where do you see yourself as a writer in, say, ten years? What are you writing? Still MG fiction? Why or why not? 
ORP: I'm working on a YA manuscript right now, it has slight touches of fantasy, and deals with themes of grief and guilt, which might be my last in that genre. I have many younger MG and chapter book ideas waiting to be worked on, and one of these days I would love to develop the skills to write a picture book. I have a multiplatform/multimedia project that I started years ago, exploring the lives of girls around the world at different turning points in their childhood and teen years.  For years I've been interested in some of the opportunities to make meaning using digital technology. I will always be teaching in some way; I love it, and am looking forward to a couple of school writing workshops that I have coming up in both early childhood and teen classrooms and libraries.  In my teaching, I love looking at multiple ways to 'write' and create, and reflect; sometimes using arts and crafts techniques, drama, discussion, memoir...just thinking about it is fun!
NM: Thanks so much, Olugbemisola!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Fabulous Olugbemisola, Part One

Today, I am thrilled to feature part 1 of an interview I did with the wonderful Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of EIGHTH GRADE SUPERZERO. I read SUPERZERO and just fell in fast, tumbling love with each of the characters. It is a book full of heart and insight, written with warmth and compassion. And Ms. Olugbemisola is a fierce, quietly powerful force to be reckoned with. Here is part one of what she has to say about writing, her process, the '08 election, SUPERZERO, family, and spirituality...

NM: What was the "nugget" that you started with for this novel?

ORP: I started this novel as part of an application for a workshop with Paula Danziger. It was the night before the thing was due, and I needed to come up with three pages, fast. The image of a ten-year-old Reggie in bed, with the covers pulled up over his head, because he was afraid that a bug was going to crawl into his mouth, was the very first image that I had for this story. Whenever I say that, I realize that it sounds nothing like that book it became! But the character was there.

NM: Wow, what a powerful image! And that initial feeling is exactly what I got from the opening chapters. You captured those anxieties so well.

There are parts of the novel where I feel, intuitively, you would have gone a bit more radical. I think I recognized those parts because I have them in my own novel - areas where I would absolutely have gone in with my feminist, anti-racist self and run amuk, but had to rein myself in, either because of feedback from trusted sources, or because I knew I was pushing it. Am I right in this hunch? If so, could you point to parts where this might've happened?
ORP: I think that there were definitely times when I *wanted* to make certain points, and I did hold back because I had to make sure that this book was Reggie's story. I think that especially with a first-person narrative, it can be easy to make the character's voice your own. And I tried that sometimes in the beginning -- Reggie used to also have an older, disaffected brother named Marcus, who spoke in speeches and was usually saying the things that I thought. (Marcus's struggle with racism, my cynicism during the election) I also struggled as an author with thinking too much about how *I* would be perceived by this book. I worried that it wasn't weighty enough, and that it would be dismissed as lightweight, etc. etc. blah blah blah. But then I really had to come to terms with how ridiculous I was being -- either I wanted to tell *Reggie's* story, and be as honest as I could be about it, and connect with those young readers who are/know/could be Reggie and his friends, or I wanted to make it all about me. Instead of writing fully as an adult looking back on childhood days, I had to access who I was at 13 (not who I'd wish I'd been, or thought that I was then), who my friends were, who the 13 year-olds that I know and see are now...Of course, I am writing with the benefit of experience and hindsight and perspective, but I had to make sure that I worked to get out of the way and ask myself at every point if something was *really* part of the story, something that was true to the characters, or was it just something that *I* wanted to say, to wedge in somehow because I thought it would make me look a certain way, or because I was trying to create an opportunity to put me on the page. Humbling work. The most gratifying response recently has been from my sister, who's just reading the book in its entirety now, and said "This doesn't sound like you at all!"
NM: What a fantastic answer. I so relate to the "not weighty enough" worries and wanting to inject my current sensibilities into my character's thoughts and actions. It's such a fine balance! 
What made you write this novel in a young male voice? And how was that experience? Would you do it again?
ORP: I really just started with that character, at that moment; I didn't plan it. I would not have expected to write a book with a male MC, and definitely never planned to. Once I started, though, that was it. It didn't seem right to just change him to a girl, which a couple of people suggested. Now that I've thought about it a little, I don't know that I'd do it again. I suppose it depends on the characters that come to me. But I'm definitely a little self-conscious about it now.
NM: Well, Reggie certainly rang true for many folks, including me, so I'm glad he stayed a he :). 
I love books that explore spirituality. Tell me a bit about your decision to incorporate themes of spirituality and religion into 8TH GRADE SUPERZERO. Were you worried about it at all?

ORP: I did worry that it would be rejected because of that, and I did submit to my editor, Cheryl Klein, because I thought that, from her blog posts, that she wouldn't dismiss it out of hand for that reason.  And I worried that Christians would think that I should have made Reggie a Christian, or something like that. But it was not a part of the story that I ever considered taking out. It was a part of Reggie's life and person. And it was a part of the lives of so many young people that I'd taught or worked with over the years, in a variety of ways.  They had such great questions, interesting ideas, and always introduced fabulous discussions while we talked about books, daily life, TV, etc. that related to faith and spirituality; it was clear to me that these themes were important parts of their lives in myriad ways. I wanted to 'give back' in a way, to the young people who trusted me enough to share their thoughts on spirituality and faith, because we were able to have those discussions lovingly, and respectfully, even though we each often held different beliefs.
NM: I hear you. I've had so many wonderful conversations with young people about religion and spirituality. They are definitely asking the questions and searching for answers - particularly in a post 9/11 world where religion seems to have taken such a front seat in media and political forums.

Thanks, Olugbemisola! 
Readers -- stay tuned for part 2 of this interview! And pick up your copy of EIGHTH GRADE SUPERZERO now. Seriously.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I received some bad news last week going into the weekend. Lucky for me, the weekend was a gorgeous one - warm, with clear evidence that spring was here at last. I spent the two days outdoors with my family and everything else melted away. It was a gift. A reminder that everything that is sacred is within a tiny radius around me - my children, Hollis, the place where my in breath connects with the entire universe.

I did the Teen Author Festival book signing on Sunday and took my mentee from Girls Write Now. She had an amazing experience, got to meet her author-idols Coe Booth, Barry Lyga, and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. She also caught a glimpse of Carolyn Mackler and just about swooned. It was wonderful to watch.

And this week I go into the new (romance) work-in-progress, my agent sends the YA out, and I tumble into a zillion school/library visits, speaking engagements, etc.

But none of those, in and of themselves matter. They matter only in connection to what is sacred in my life - as an extension of it. And when they're connected to that center, they matter deeply.

Here's to spring (and its reminder of rebirth), new life, the bursts of colour exploding all around us, and to always remembering to keep what is sacred at the center of everything.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Equinox/New Year

An old and dear friend sent an email around announcing the United Nations' recognition of the spring equinox holiday celebrated by Parsi Zoroastrians around the world as the beginning of the new year. March 21st is spring equinox for all, but for 300 million worldwide it is also the beginning of a new year.

Here are a few links with more information:

UN General Assembly Recognizes 21 March as International Day of Nowruz
UN Officially Recognizes March 21 as International Nowruz Day
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Urges Harmony on First International Day of NowruzMy new year is yours: I had no idea others celebrated Navroze by Kayhan Irani (2004)

Friday, March 19, 2010


I grew up thinking it was a matter of course that women can and should lead nations. In my home, we discussed and debated the policies of Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, and Margaret Thatcher. All women prime ministers during my lifetime. It never ocurred to me that this was something remarkable. Until I started looking at the history of Canada and the US. In the entire histories of these nations, both the US and Canada have never had a female leader - especially ironic to me, as I grew up with media stereotypes of the submissive, demure, exotic Asian female.

I understood pretty early how important it is to SEE role models - images and actual sightings of folks who look like you taking up space, speaking up, making decisions, holding seats of power.

Yesterday, Coe Booth, Sarah Darer Littman, Maryrose Wood and I read from our books at the Bronx Library Center. The auditorium we were in held over one hundred students from the Bronx. Over eighty percent of them were brown. Maybe even closer to ninety percent. I thought of how important it was for them to see two brown women on the stage, reading from works that focused on experiences these students could relate to - expressing worldviews these students knew well. Whether they knew it or not, we were creating a window for them to what was Possible. They could then see *themselves* up on a stage, where there was room for their expressions, their words, their image.

And I thought of how important it was for them to hear us voicing into reality the things they struggle with, real issues they face - particularly with the flurry of questions Sarah got over her upcoming book on a girl's relationship with an internet predator. These young men and women were hungry for what is REAL. What they know in their bones.

I wondered how many times these same students would sit through similar readings with absolutely NO reflection of their realities. No recognition that they exist at all. And that, of course, is precisely what they experience when they watch TV, or open a mainstream magazine, or peruse many of the books in large chain bookstores.

Still. Yesterday, they got to see and hear a diverse panel of women authors. And that, at least for now, is something.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Women Writers of Colour Series

Today, I'm featured on Color Online's Women Writers of Colour series. The whole series is awesome with some wonderful and diverse voices - go check it out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Links and Upcoming Events

An online friend and reviewer recently posted this link on one of the listservs I'm on. Talk about re-writing history. Worth a read, if you're interested in what's being taught in classrooms and how that impacts the stories our children grow up hearing about themselves and the world around them.

Events This Week

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 17th, at 9:30 pm, catch a half hour interview with me on Jus Punjabi's AMERICAN VISIONS program on these networks -
DISH, channel 809
Time Warner NY/NJ, channel 373
Verizon FIOS, channel 1757
Cablevision-io NY/NJ/CT, channel 248

Thursday, March 18th, I will be reading from my book at the Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Rd (in the Bronx, obviously), from 10-11:30 am. This event is part of the giant, second annual Teen Author Festival.

Sunday, March 21st, I'll be signing copies of SHINE, COCONUT MOON at Books of Wonder in Manhattan, from 3:15-4pm. Fellow authors (and friends) Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Coe Booth, Sarah MacLean, Jon Skovron and many others will be signing as well. This is one of the author finales for the aforementioned Teen Author Festival.

More events in April; stay tuned...

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tackling Terrorism in YA

Zetta Elliott, author of A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT, has an article up in the Huffington Post called Tackling Terrorism in Teen Lit. Ms. Elliott interviewed me for the article; here's a quote from one of my answers:
"When I was writing Shine, Coconut Moon, I decided I could not write about a Sikh family in a post-9/11 world without also addressing the events of September 11th, 2001. Everyone I knew then was deeply affected, and it was an especially confusing and disillusioning time for the teens I was meeting--particularly South Asian teens who were now thrown into the position of having to choose to either DEFEND their religion/identity, or DISTANCE themselves from it."
There was a third question that didn't make it into the final article, so Zetta posted that answer on her personal blog.

Check out both the article and Ms. Elliott's post! And be sure to leave a comment if you have something to add/contribute.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tu & Lee and Low!

So, in case you missed it, Tu Publishing has joined forces with Lee & Low Books. I think this could be a wonderful thing. This collaboration could mark the beginning of a multicultural publishing force that effects *much* needed changes in the publishing industry as a whole. I, for one, will be keeping a close eye on their progress and cheering them on!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In Honour of International Women's Day

In honour of IWD (International Women's Day) which is on March 8th this year and Women's History Month, I'm putting up Sheila Chandra's "call", La Sagesse (Women, I'm Calling You). Just click on the play button below.

The image below is of Mukhtaran Bibi who was gang raped in an "honour" revenge issued by tribal council. She was expected to have committed suicide after this, but took the case to court instead. The perpetrators were charged and arrested, and later acquitted. Nonetheless, she started an organization to empower girls and women in Pakistan, called Mukhtar Mai's Women's Welfare Organization. There is an image of the accused rapists on the Wiki page (link above) and I debated putting it up here - to plaster their faces in public. But I don't know if men who were given orders to rape a woman by tribal council would see their actions as shameful since the actions were condoned and blessed by those in power, and the men have yet to be brought to justice. So I chose not to, focusing instead on the remarkable strength and courage of the woman who is inspiring all young girls and women who hear her story.

Here is a recent account of the status of this case is this from Wiki:
"On December 11, 2008 Mukhtaran was informed by Sardar Abdul Qayyum, the sitting Federal Minister for Defence Production, to drop the charge against the accused. According to Mukhtaran, the minister called her uncle, Ghulam Hussain, to his place in Jatoi and passed on a message to Mukhtaran that she should drop the charges against the thirteen accused of the Mastoi tribe, who were involved either in the verdict against Mukhtaran, or who gang raped her. The minister said that if she did not comply, he and his associates would not let the Supreme Court’s decision go in favour of Mukhtaran. It is believed that the Mastoi clan have political influence of sufficient weight to bring pressure to bear on the supreme court via establishment and political figures.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan had listed Mukhtaran case for hearing in the 2nd week of February 2009 (hearing was expected on 10th or 11th February).[35]
On June 11, 2009, the Multan Electric Power Company raided the MMWWO (Mukhtar Mai's Women Welfare Organization) in Meerwala, Pakistan, disconnecting all electricity to the grounds, falsely accusing the organization of stealing electricity despite records proving they have paid all bills in full. MMWWO and hundreds of families in the surrounding area were without power for several days. Today, while the power to the surrounding area has been restored, the MMWWO grounds, which house the Mukhtaran Girls Model School, Women's Resource Centre, and Shelter Home for battered women (whose premises was raided despite the fact that men are strictly prohibited), are still enduring blistering temperatures. According to MMWWO employees, who were witnesses, the power company officials claimed that the raid was ordered by Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, the Federal Minister for Defense Production. This raid has significantly hindered the ability of Mai's organization to carry out its' important human rights work, providing services for vulnerable women, girls and boys.[36]
Hearings for the Supreme Court case have repeatedly been delayed, while her attackers remain imprisoned and her case is pending."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Podcast Interview

I recently did an interview with two fabulous librarians from the Mount Kisco Library in Westchester, NY. The interview, in all its thirty-seven minutes of podcast glory, is below. Or, if you can't access it here due to my technical no-how, you can check it out here. Take a listen if you want to know about how SHINE came to be, how it started, and how much it resembles (or not) my actual life ;).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hood Passes & Home Invasions

I recently read this post by Adam Mansbach over at one of my usual internet haunts, and it got me thinking about writing. Particularly the idea of a "hood pass". That term (in this case) applies specifically to the black community and, while there are issues with the word "hood" being used to describe the totality of blackness, the larger idea of certain white folks (or any non-black folks, really) getting a sort of cultural "pass" is very interesting. Whether we're referring to products which either mimic the style and aesthetic of PoC (as with music, or clothes), or products which represent a specific community of colour--while the creator of said product is not of that community themselves (as in literature, let's say), the hood pass is, indeed, a concept worth exploring.

Zetta Elliott just had a guest post up on Justine Larbalestier's blog about race and book reviews. One line, in particular, stood out for me: "Mostly I just wish white authors would leave people of color alone."

Elliott was referring specifically to writing for children, but it's a sentiment that I think is applicable across the board. I'm sure that in 1492, folks in the Americas were thinking something along those lines. I'm also pretty sure that in 1757, when the British invaded India, most Indians were like, "Wow, it would've been awesome if all these white people had just left us alone." Probably in Australia in 1788 folks were thinking similar thoughts, too. Just a hunch.

When reading up on India's history for my work-in-progress, I stumbled upon a site that had this:
"Consider the fact that Indian written history stretches back almost 4,000 years, to the civilization centers of the Indus Valley Culture at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. In addition, by 1850 A.D., India had a population of some 200 million or more.
Britain, on the other hand, had no indigenous written language until the 9th century A.D. (almost 3,000 years after India). Its population was about 16.6 million in 1850.
How, then, did Britain manage to control India from 1757 to 1947?
The keys seem to have been superior weaponry, a strong profit motive and Eurocentric confidence." [Emphasis mine]
See, to me it all comes down to real estate and entitlement. It's about barging into someone else's home and claiming it as yours. And then responding in dismay, shock, and outrage when you're asked to leave. THAT is entitlement. Back that entitlement up with power (whether it's military might, or systemic and institutionalized power that was gained through military might), and you have a potent mix where PoC, women, the working class--or whomever is having their community/culture/home invaded--lack the power or voice to fend off the onslaught. Now add to all this, a cultivated ignorance among the powerful that they deserve all the offerings of the home they've barged into. And that in barging into this home, they are serving the best interests of those being invaded. can see how that really doesn't leave us much room for honest communication. Not without a whole lot of HARD work and painful self-reflection, that's for sure.

So back to the hood pass. John Mayer is a white male creating music that "resembles" a certain musical tradition which can trace its roots back to, primarily, black people. He got a "pass" because his interest in something that is uniquely theirs was appreciated, it was was an echo of something recognized. However, beyond a profit motive, he has displayed absolutely ZERO interest in that community. Far from it, clearly, since he has issued racial slurs and hurled denigrating, dehumanizing insults at members of the very community that has supported him. Clearly, he has no awareness whatsoever, of one of the reasons he may have managed to reach the heights he has. Upon whose backs his luxuries have been acquired.

When we apply this to literature, we are talking about white authors who write stories of PoC--while PoC are not being published with their OWN stories. Again, there is a vast history behind this. On this site is another interesting fact: "Besides losing hundreds of thousands of lives, the Aborigines also lost much of their culture. They could no longer tell their stories and traditions, and in some cases, there was no one to hear them. History was lost."

This quote is specific to the Aborigines of Australia, but can be applied to most PoC all over the world. Wherever colonization has taken place*, along with it has come a steady and consistent loss of history and story told from our perspective. We, as people of colour have been robbed, often through violent and brutal means, of the right to tell our own stories. We have had to stand aside for centuries while our streets have been renamed, our histories distorted, and our own stories delivered to us through European (or Euro-centric) eyes. We have been taught ABOUT ourselves from people who do not share our history. We have been taught in schools through white-authored textbooks to see the world, its peoples, and its history through a white conqueror's perspective.

No one can stop anyone from writing what they want. But what we can request is that the writing which represents us be done with respect, with humility, and with a complete awareness of one's privilege. Do your research--not just of the people you're writing about, but of what it means for you, as someone who has more privilege, to tell their story. And always, always, be mindful of the fact that there is an entire history behind white folks telling the stories of people of colour.

And if you ARE given a "hood pass", imagine that you have been invited into someone's home and welcomed. You are standing on their sacred ground. What will you do with that honour?

I'll close with a few quotes that I stumbled across this week:

"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive."—Audre Lorde

"Our stories are our identities."
-- Reggie McKnight from EIGHTH GRADE SUPERZERO, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

"We carve out boundaries in real time."
-- Kesime Bernard (from above post by Adam Mansbach)

*For the purposes of this essay I am focusing on PoC and European colonizers. I am quite aware that there are parts of Europe which were under Ottoman rule for hundreds of years, that some European nations invaded other European nations, and that many nations/peoples were conquered by those who looked just like them. Those of you with white skin who have been affected by these invasions must understand clearly what I am referring to when I write of the erasure and re-writing of history, and the need for those on the receiving end of said invasions to tell their own stories. No need to clarify. I am referring here, to a particular pattern of colonization and imperialism that affected peoples of colour, in alarming numbers, across the globe--specifically, the indiginous populations of the Americas, Africa, South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. And I am placing this within the context of US publishing--which is a product of the unique racial history of the United States.