THE BURDEN OF DIVERSITY
Every year it was the same. The then Milwaukee Sentinel printed the pictures of all their summer interns who worked at the paper. The pictures were divided into two categories:
Each year, my picture, with the worst lighting imaginable, was displayed under the minority banner. I hated that term: minority intern. It was code for so many things. “Look, we have people of color on our staff!”
But the title also translated into some real life/work challenges as well.
Minority Interns meant you were “guided” into certain beats. Community Affairs, which is also code for the “N***a Beat,” writing about Juneteenth, and all other manner of black experience. Such things are a joy to write about when you want to write about them. But we were all trying to be reporters. We wanted to break news, not cover parades. The breaking news was usually divided amongst the “intern” interns. The ilk of writers who dropped in on the city for the summer to get their mid-size paper cred before jumping to a top-tier internship like the Washington Post or the New York Times. This paper was their stepping stone. For most of us minority interns, though, this was our first and possibly last step.
Read the rest of the post here: George Kevin Jordan on The Burden of Diversity
by Rion Amilcar Scott
(from the collection Insurrections)
In my eleventh year, my father taught me defeat.
I sat with my back pressed on that old, scratchy brown couch. Tom chased Jerry across the television screen and then the image dissolved into a white dot in the center. I turned to see my father holding the remote control in one hand and a crumpled cloth cradled in the crook of his other arm.
What are you doing with that rag, Daddy? I asked.
It’s not a rag, girl, he said. It’s a mat.
He unfurled the dirty checkered mat onto the coffee table and dropped a handful of chipped and faded black chess pieces in front of me. He started setting up the white ones without looking at me. I tilted my head, watching my father curiously.
Read the full story here: 202 Checkmates
A diasporic telephone memoir: Chief Dr PU Emezi as told to his daughter.
by Akwaeke Emezi
Read the rest of the memoir here: Triumph 1360
An interview with Andrew Mitchell Davenport
In her 1942 autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neale Hurston writes, “If you have received no clear-cut impression of what the Negro in America is like, then you are in the same place with me. There is no The Negro here. Our lives are so diversified, internal attitudes so varied, appearances and capabilities so different, that there is no possible classification so catholic that it will cover us all.” And so, too, does the fiction of debut novelist Cole Lavalais, a lifelong resident of Chicago, express true subjectivity in her Summer of the Cicadas. Over the course of weeks during the early spring, Lavalais and I exchanged letters about literature, history, family, and the artists who helped her along toward publishing her greatest achievement yet.
[This piece originally appeared in the Full Stop Quarterly Issue #3. The Quarterly is available to download or subscribe here.]
A.M. Davenport: Cole, we’re talking on the eve of your first novel’s publication; I find myself wondering what your journey has been like. Where have books taken you? What do you hope for your reader to find in Summer of the Cicadas?
Cole Lavalais: My intention is to present one woman’s experience at a particular moment in time within a particular context. Edwidge Danticat wrote a letter to her protagonist at the end of Breathe, Eyes, and Memory, and it’s always stayed me with. She apologizes for the ways the world will make her story representational for all young Haitian women, and I’ve never been able to forget it. That idea of a singular story is what sits at the center of Summer of the Cicadas. All of the characters are struggling to not be representational. So I hope readers feel as if they know Vi by the end of book, but also realize it’s all they know. Vi’s experience is not every black woman’s experience.
Chicago and the South play such integral parts in Vi’s life as she leaves the North for her college studies. 100 years after the Great Migration, what do you think Vi learns from her Southern sojourn?
Read more here: Cole Lavalais Interviewed on Full Stop
From A PUBLIC SPACE
…I tell you this longish anecdote as a way to prepare you for what I see as the magic in Jamel Brinkley’s stories. These stories deal in large-scale deceit and betrayal, there are painful things at work in this fiction, but much like the scene I described above, Jamel Brinkley regularly finds ways to pierce through the dramatic and find the subtle and humane lurking within.
Read the full post here: Victor LaValle on “A Lucky Man”
Kimbilio in honored to count Victor as a friend and advisor.
Friends of Kimbilio: Get $6 off a subscription to A Public Space by using code KIMBILIO at checkout. As a subscriber, you’ll receive three issues in the mail, as well as complete access to the online archives, where you can read two stories by Jamel Brinkley as well as ten years of fact, fiction, art, and argument. Subscribe today: http://apublicspace.org/store/subscribe