All posts tagged: People of Color

Contractual Community: Minority Students’ Place in the Creative Writing Program

Image: Conal Gallagher A lot has happened since the events of last semester as detailed here. I thought about what it might look like for me to give an update on promises given, what has improved, what hasn’t. And yet, I feel like it’d be unnecessary, in a sense, to give another somewhat in-depth barometric of things overall. A problem had been pointed out, namely the program’s inadequate approach, specifically under the helm of the current director, Jeff Lockwood, to address issues uniquely relevant to minority students. A call had been made and had been heard. Anymore expended emotional and intellectual energies, other than acting for the sake of my own survival if necessary, would be undue labor on my part, at least in my view. Then, there’s simply the matter of our program’s change in directors starting next year, from Jeff Lockwood to Brad Watson. So rather than go in that direction, I thought I would discuss a topic endemic to the creative writing program generally: problems with the notion of “community.” (Although, if …

The Dissertation

Image: Ignacio B. Peña I’ve got two posts left (including this one) before my regular(ish) contribution to The MFA Years comes to a close. Before I write my wrap-up next month at the end of my course, I wanted to take some time to talk about the last few months as it relates to my experience approaching my summer dissertation, and everything that that entails. First, a brief overview. Over the course of this summer, the fiction students are required to write a creative dissertation project that spans a word count of 15,000 – 20,000 words. This can be achieved in any way the student sees fit, be it one complete novella, a collection of short stories or flash fiction, or the continuation of a novel-in-progress. I decided I wanted to write a self-contained novella. Undoubtedly the foremost reason for having taken this year to pursue a Masters was so that I can develop my craft as a writer of fiction; and in this respect, I feel that my time in Edinburgh has been invaluable. …

Does the term “ally” prevent us from forming real solidarity?

Image: Farrukh Something that’s been on my mind lately has been the notion of allyship. As many folk know, there have been various reactions to my previous blog post, specifically to the comment on microaggressions. I feel myself to understand such reactions—how they’re historically situated and, as a result, presently created—because I’ve seen them before. However, I have to acknowledge the situation which helped foster the development of my own working definitions of social justice concepts. In other words, that my worldview is colored by the various ways in which I’m privileged. I have material privilege, light skin privilege, and first world privilege. Honestly, I’m sure there are more ways to conceptualize and categorize the ways that I am privileged for the sake of developing a more thorough framework for understanding how I, and others, experience the world. I say this because I want to take a step toward having a better understanding of the ways in which people reach out to one another across boundaries of marginalization. What does it mean to be an …

“Otherness” in MFA programs

Much has been made of the lack of people of color (POC) enrolled in master of fine arts programs. Last year, best-selling writer of color, Junot Diaz, made the rounds on a variety of news outlets to discuss the lack of diversity in many MFA programs. Diaz was expressing a real concern and frustration for the lack of diversity in both the student body and the faculty at many of the MFA programs around the country. As his message got louder and spread across the media last summer, other writers echoed his sentiments and shared their stories about workshop experiences (NPR  dubbed the experience “writing while other”). For many writers who identify themselves as “other,” they see this problem as an extension of the publishing world as well, where agents and publishers are not interested in fiction projects that are written by or feature people of color. The excuse is often given that no one buys those books. The standard reply from a person of color, “How would you know? Have you tried?” Obviously, books exists …

The Writer of Color’s Agenda & How to Champion Your Otherness

You will get accepted into an MFA program. You might get accepted into several MFA programs. You have spent a lot of money on applications. It’s time you decide how to make this transition possible. With no money, so much is possible in the sphere of dreams. But you’re a writer of color. It has taken you so much effort to get here. You’re in debt. You’ve spent weeks, months, or years explaining to people in your community why you’ve decided to pursue this route. You have translated what an MFA means into Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Mandarin, Bengali, Arabic, Somali, Yoruba, and Private Language. The future will often appear bleak, like a crow that has to dream before it can fly. How many synonyms can you come up with to describe race politics, linguistic diversity, heteronormativity, public aid, or “I, too, have the right to be here”? You will either own a car or take public transportation. On the bus, you might learn more about yourself than if you spend that much time in …