"People really like hearing about how sad it is to be marginalized." -Fabian Romero, in his recent interview with Nia King: http://gumroad.com/l/OmNq
I’ve been listening to Fabian Romero’s silky smooth voice, discussing how the sob stories of marginalized folks are paradoxically used to make more fortunate people feel better about themselves because wow, they show such sympathy. It seems like the voices of the marginalized are often amplified more so when they can generate this kind of feel-good sympathy. Because of this, in my opinion, we don’t get varied perspectives coming from certain marginalized communities.
When growing up, everything I ever read by and about Latinas centered shame and repression and suffering and exploitation. As if that’s all our lives amounted to, as if we couldn’t be funny or happy or complex through it all. One reason I published my pre-teen diaries as a blog/zine series was because I wanted to fill this huge void in the legacy of Latina memoir; the lack of lighthearted, humorous, and goofy narratives about young women. I think the same goes for many other marginalized groups. Alesia and I briefly chatted about this disparity specifically with regards to black women on her blog once, after she said, "Any coming of age/angsty young person movie from the perspective of a black girl-not-yet-a-woman would be great." Young white women feature in so many movies/books about ~rebelling against the norm~ and wearing cute clothes and listening to good music, while young women of color more often feature in movies/books about rape, war, teen pregnancy, crime and/or poverty. There is some crossover with white authors like Dorothy Allison or Laurie Halse Anderson, but overall there is comparatively a huge lack in representations of women of color that don’t center some kind of degradation or trauma.
Of course, being marginalized often comes with trauma— in fact it’s almost inevitable. But I HATE that, especially as a Latina survivor, trauma is all I’m expected to share with people. I’ve dealt with shame and suffering growing up— at the hands of men, at the hands of white people and even at the hands of my own. But I am not my trauma; I’ve had good times, great times growing up as a nerdy brown art kid. Girls of color need more of those stories too. We too can be the weird alternative kids, kids who are precocious and moody and goofy and disoriented and don’t fit in.
One reason I love Junot Diaz is because he writes real deep stuff about being part of a diaspora, but is also SUCH a DORK in the way he betrays his devout interest in sci-fi and other things people think are limited to the scope of white Americans. I’ve argued with some white Americans who say they can’t take him seriously because of these admissions. Like— why should it be so unsettling that immigrants, people of color have lives and interests that mirror your own? Like I once had a 6 hour conversation with an undocumented woman who survived a freaking war in Mexico— but most of what we talked about were embarrassing dating stories and our favorite bands. I’m just wondering why girls of color, even the survivors and refugees, are barely allowed these more lighthearted angles. They definitely exist. And we definitely need to publish more of them.
I thought this while running last Sunday about trying to origin side-eye trashtalk about pinays (ie, judging our moms): central assumption of the “decolonial” is our original consensus-happiness. any dynamic trouble we may have with one another is foreign/colonial mentality. oppression is foreign to us. ‘though we killed one another way before the fall or the trauma or whatever. more importantly, we turn each other on way after.
but the upshot: we are either shiny-perfect or we raise the fist, or better yet the shiny-perfect fist.
at any rate, yes: Sad Marginalization (TM) is some activists-writers’ brand.
not buying until a significant variation on the theme shows some real life and not some folks’ branding.