Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Racism Beat — Matter — Medium

I don't remember if I posted this when it first came out, but great article in Medium on the difficulty of writing about race and diversity repeatedly.
The hostility directed at writers who cover minority beats in America is solid proof that those people are doing important work. But that work can be exhausting. It’s exhausting to always be writing and thinking about a new person being racist or sexist or otherwise awful. It’s exhausting to feel compelled on a consistent basis to defend your claim to dignity. It’s exhausting to then watch those defenses drift beyond the reaches of the internet’s short memory, or to coffee tables in dentists’ offices, to be forgotten about until you link to them the next time you need to say essentially the same thing....
Imagine an editor asking a writer to passionately articulate why a drunk driver hitting and killing a boy on a bicycle is wrong and sad. That would never happen, because a drunk driver killing a boy on a bike is a self-evident tragedy. Asking a writer to exert lots of effort to explain why would be a disservice to the dead, as if his right to life were ever in question, as if our moral obligation to not snuff out our fellow citizens via recklessness were something in need of an eloquent plea.
When another unarmed black teenager is gunned down, there is something that hurts about having to put fingers to keyboard in an attempt to illuminate why another black life taken is a catastrophe, even if that murdered person had a criminal record or a history of smoking marijuana, even if that murdered person wasn’t a millionaire or college student. There is something that hurts when thinking about the possibility of being “accidentally” shot on some darkened corner, leaving a writer who never met you the task of asking the world to acknowledge your value posthumously, as it didn’t during your life.
I think about race and racism every day of my life. How can any American not? (James Baldwin once proffered the idea that “the Negro-in-America is increasingly the central problem in American life.”) I anticipate that I’ll always write about race and racism in some professional capacity. Still, wouldn’t it be wonderful if writers and creatives on the periphery were welcomed in from anonymity, not thanks to their accounts of woe, but simply because they have things to share—tales of love, joy, happiness, and basic humanity—that have nothing to do with their race and also everything to do with their race. I’m ready for people in positions of power at magazines and newspapers and movie studios to recalibrate their understanding of what it means to talk about race in the first place. If America would like to express that it truly values and appreciates the voices of its minorities, it will listen to all their stories, not just the ones reacting to its shortcomings and brutality.
https://medium.com/matter/the-racism-beat-6ff47f76cbb6

The Racism Beat — Matter — Medium

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