Monday, January 18, 2010

Yearning for Freedom; and Some News!

So many things to blog about today. I was originally going to come here and do a post about my thoughts on the film Amelia, which I saw last night. But because there are other, more timely issues to blog about, I'll just give you a quick summary:

To put it in a nutshell, it was an interesting film. I was mildly interested in watching it at first--not sure which aspect of Ms. Earhart's life would be broached and/or sensationalized. But when I found out that Mira Nair directed it, I was immediately more interested. I kept thinking, as I watched, about how colonization is so much more than the invasion of nations. It is the thorough and devastating invasion of bodies, minds, and souls. Specifically, I thought about the colonization of women's bodies, minds, and souls.

Amelia Earhart was a wealthy white woman who ran with the politically elite. Her husband was George Putnam, as in G.P. Putnam & Sons--the mega-publisher. Earhart had dinner with the Roosevelts. She could afford flying lessons. And yet, she was still a woman in a patriarchal, sexist world. She was still often treated like a child (something PoC encounter on a regular basis), and many decisions were made for her by the men in her life, often "for her own good." She bucked many conventions of her time and she yearned to be free. Something so many of us can relate to.

What caught me by surprise was how sad I was at the end. I knew what the ending was, and history has recorded how Ms. Earhart died, and still, I could not stop the flow of tears. Here is my favourite quote from the movie: "Everyone has oceans to fly, as long as you have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?" --Amelia Earhart, 1897-1937.

Another quote that has resonated for me on this particular day is "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." That one is from Martin Luther King, Jr. And how ironic that today I should read about yet another furor, online, over the whitewashing of a book cover. Once again, it is the Bloomsbury team, deciding that a cover with a white model depicting a protagonist who is "brown-skinned" will sell more books, that is at issue. Several posts have been written on the topic already: Ari's heartfelt, powerful open letter, Susan's post/s, and the post and ensuing discussion over at The Story Siren.

I agree with Zetta's sentiment on her blog, "I don’t have time to respond to all the ignorant remarks...", particularly because there are so many. But I do LOVE that there are bloggers out there who see this issue as something that affects them, and are taking it on themselves, or as allies. Brava to you! The only thing that really irked me in the comments I read was the suggestion that those who are outraged about the cover should somehow be "nicer" in their outrage. Let me just point out that sometimes PoC, women, LGBTQ folks, the working class, and other people who've had their voices marginalized, get angry. When you're being battered on a daily basis, you're bound to get a little pissed. And then, if you see people you love--your little brother, your cousin, your mom, your child, your grandpa--relentlessly battered as well, you'll not likely reach out lovingly, softly, compassionately, to "teach" someone that their silence is not only NOT helping you, but that it is helping to keep the very systems in place that bruise and batter you every single day. To tell people who've had long histories of violence, subjugation, brutality, colonization, and/or slavery, that it would be better for them to be "nice" about their pain and outrage at being erased yet again -- because they might hurt someone else's feelings, otherwise -- is really another way of saying "shut up." It truly is. Audre Lorde's famous quote, "Your silence will not protect you" comes to mind; the extension of that being, "Your silence will not help others."

The other thing I wanted to blog about today, that I really shouldn't put last -- but I've written this post in the order things happened today -- is this: some of you know that I am writing in another genre under a pen name. Well, today, I received an offer for my first full-length novel in that genre, and I couldn't be more delighted. I will not reveal my pen name on this blog, nor provide any more information than I just did, but suffice it to say that if you do discover my alternate identity, I will not deny it's me :).

Wishing you all a thoughtful, reflective MLK, Jr. Day as we celebrate one man's message and his life's work.


MissA said...

Ohhh I want to see Amelia! I love that quote you shared. I didn't know she was married to George Putname, little known fact for me.

Thanks for linking to my post. and I wholeheartedly agree, that keeping silent is seen as agreeing or being satisfied with the status quo. It's hard not to get angry and I admit my first blog post was hot, I was angry and wasn't thinking about being careful with my words. Hence, my most current post/letter, more thought out and when I've calmed down. Unfortunately, people are referencing my angry post. Ah well, just have to be more careful and calm about what I put on the internet.

I'll be looking for your new novel, I'm determined!

Zetta said...

WOW--congratulations, Neesha!!!! That's awesome...we have to talk about the pen name decision...and I might quote you if I respond to that weird Child_Lit message. Hope that's ok.

yuan said...

=O you watched Amelia. I'm so jealous.

And ARGH YES AT THAT TEACHING AND BEING NICER THING. We are children when we are being addressed to, but when faced with the idea of white privilege they come back and go buuuuuuut you didn't telllllll usssss, teeeeeeeach meeeeeee. (This is not just the comments on Story Siren but just *in general* I see this.) And I have no patience for it.

=O CONGRATS ON GETTING AN OFFER ON YOUR MANUSCRIPT!! *-* can I ask if this is the fantasy story you mentioned at the signing? (And, you know, if you take bribes on the revealing penname thing, I'm willing to bite. lol jks 8D)

Neesha Meminger said...

@Ari, I hope you're not feeling bad about being angry? Anger is the right emotion to have when there's injustice. We just need to channel it and make it constructive. Blogging about an issue, IMO, can be constructive. I realize that I never read your first post, just the follow-up one, so I will check it out. But please don't apologize for being upset about something that is upsetting.

Zetta, Thank you!! Please feel free to quote away. Unlike other experiences I've had, I know YOU will credit the source :).

Ah Yuan, LOL on the bribes! This is a different one from the one I mentioned to you at the signing. That one I'm still waiting to hear back about. Soon, I hope.

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