Discovering the Illusion: An Interview with T Kira Madden

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-04-21 16:56Z by Steven

Discovering the Illusion: An Interview with T Kira Madden

Asian American Writers’ Workshop
2019-03-18

Pik-Shuen Fung


T Kira Madden, Photo by Jac Martinez

“Magic and writing, it’s all misdirection, defamiliarization, and at its best, the ahhhhh moment of surprise.”

Nothing is steadfast in the childhood of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, only a slow unraveling. An only child born out of an affair between her wealthy white shoe-brand father and her Chinese-Hawaiian model mother, [T Kira] Madden went back and forth between the chaos of her home, where her parents struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, to the misery of her Boca Raton private school, where she faced ostracism as a queer biracial girl.

Madden writes, “I wanted love the size of a fist. Something I could hold, something hot and knuckled and alive.” To contain, to hold, to be vulnerable—these intense desires both shape and propel her exploration of grief, trauma, pain, and forgiveness. Composed as a kaleidoscope of darkly shimmering fragments, this courageous debut memoir is the documentation of one woman’s attempt to write down and rewrite her own history, so as to make space for more love.

I had the chance to speak with T Kira on a freezing afternoon in January. She welcomed me into her cozy home, where there were glowing candles, a pot of roasted buckwheat tea, and two energetic poodles who insisted on sitting around for the conversation…

Read the entire interview here.

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Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-04-20 01:00Z by Steven

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir

Bloomsbury
2019-03-05
336 pages
16 B&W illustrations throughout
5 1/2″ x 8 1/4″
Hardback ISBN: 9781635571851
EPUB eBook ISBN: 9781635571868

T Kira Madden

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

Acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden’s raw and redemptive debut memoir is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where she found cult-like privilege, shocking racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime, and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hiding in plain sight.

As a child, Madden lived a life of extravagance, from her exclusive private school to her equestrian trophies and designer shoe-brand name. But under the surface was a wild instability. The only child of parents continually battling drug and alcohol addictions, Madden confronted her environment alone. Facing a culture of assault and objectification, she found lifelines in the desperately loving friendships of fatherless girls.

With unflinching honesty and lyrical prose, spanning from 1960s Hawai’i to the present-day struggle of a young woman mourning the loss of a father while unearthing truths that reframe her reality, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is equal parts eulogy and love letter. It’s a story about trauma and forgiveness, about families of blood and affinity, both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful.

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We Can’t Screw Ourselves Out of Racism

Posted in Articles, Canada, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice on 2019-04-19 21:27Z by Steven

We Can’t Screw Ourselves Out of Racism

Medium
2019-03-28

Daniella Barreto, Digital Activism Coordinator
Amnesty International
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Illustration by Maia Boakye (@/ghostyboi)

Multiracial kids won’t end racism. Stop acting like we can.

In case you’ve been living under a six-ton boulder for the last five years, featuring mixed-race couples is the hot new thing in advertising. It’s edgy! It’s progressive! It’s absolutely adorable! Best of all, it is accessible to anyone who’s willing to test out their new Diversity Strategy™ and choose to see the backlash as free PR: banks, clothing brands, jewellers, mattresses, cereals, you name it. We haven’t stopped at plain old mixed race heteros, lord no. Ever heard of representation? Give me mixed race gays. Add some kids! (Just don’t get into that queer or trans business much because there’s not a lot of expendable cash in that.) Diversity’s the in-thing! The opportunities are endless.

Our obsession with diversity reveals far more about us than we think. And serves as a convenient distraction to avoid doing any real equity work.

Mixed race relationships are not inherently progressive, radical, or even healthy. That includes queer ones. The mainstream gawks at multiracial people and mixed-race relationships, turning us into superheroes or weirdos, statistical outliers divorced from the historical impacts of colonization and anti-Black racism — particularly in a Canada so smitten with itself that it has started to believe its own lies about multiculturalism.

It is a gross misunderstanding and a cruel oversimplification of the magnitude and insidiousness of white supremacy (and basic genetics) to think that if we all just fuck each other more or have mixed babies that we will get along better, turn the same shade of beige, and lo, racism will vanish…

Read the entire article here.

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If I Could Write This in Fire

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-04-24 14:08Z by Steven

If I Could Write This in Fire

University of Minnesota Press
2008
104 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth/jacket ISBN: 978-0-8166-5474-1

Michelle Cliff (1942-2016)

A deeply personal meditation on history and memory, place and displacement by a major writer

Born in a Jamaica still under British rule, the acclaimed and influential writer Michelle Cliff embraced her many identities, shaped by her experiences with the forces of colonialism and oppression: a light-skinned Creole, a lesbian, an immigrant in both England and the United States. In her celebrated novels and short stories, she has probed the intersection of prejudice and oppression with a rare and striking lyricism.

In her first book-length collection of nonfiction, Cliff displays the same poetic intensity, interweaving reflections on her life in Jamaica, England, and the United States with a powerful and sustained critique of racism, homophobia, and social injustice. If I Could Write This in Fire begins by tracing her transatlantic journey from Jamaica to England, coalescing around a graceful, elliptical account of her childhood friendship with Zoe, who is dark-skinned and from an impoverished, rural background; the divergent life courses that each is forced to take; and the class and color tensions that shape their lives as adults. The personal is interspersed with fragments of Jamaica’s history and the plight of people of color living both under imperial rule and in contemporary Britain. In other essays and poems, Cliff writes about the discovery of her distinctive, diasporic literary voice, recalls her wild colonial girlhood and sexual awakening, and recounts traveling through an American landscape of racism, colonialism, and genocide—a history of violence embodied in seemingly innocuous souvenirs and tourist sites.

A profound meditation on place and displacement, If I Could Write This in Fire explores the complexities of identity as they meet with race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and the legacies of the Middle Passage and European imperialism.

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Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2018-04-24 13:49Z by Steven

Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Ph.D.
2017-06-28

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Assistant Professor of Global Diaspora Studies
Michigan State University

Michelle Cliff (Nov. 2, 1942-June 12, 2016) was an award-winning Jamaican novelist, essayist, critic, poet, scholar, and teacher. An influential author in Caribbean, feminist, and lesbian writings, some of her notable works include: Abeng, No Telephone to Heaven, Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise, Free Enterprise, If I Could Write This In Fire, and The Land of Look Behind. Cliff’s work reflected many parts of her identity, contemporary sociopolitical concerns stemming from colonialism, and a critical investment in the Caribbean and her diasporas. Her works examine the complexities of identity politics, lesbianism, colorism, colonialism/post-colonialism and revolution – both of the personal variety and the political. On June 22, 2017, we gathered at the Caribbean Philosophical Association Annual Meeting in NYC to honor her life and writing. This post includes the work of the roundtable participants. The roundtable, titled “‘Writing in Fire’: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff” marked the second year that the Chair of Afro-Diasporic Literatures (me) and the Chair of the Initiative on Gender, Race, and Feminisms (Xhercis Mendez) joined together to propose roundtables to honor Caribbean women writers at the CPA (at the 2016 we celebrated the 10th/11th publication anniversary of M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing). This year two Ph.D. students – Keishla Rivera (Rutgers Newark) and Briona Jones (Michigan State) – joined moderator Xhercis Mendez and I to reflect on the rich inheritance Michelle Cliff has left us. Below are excerpts from the reflections which engendered a powerful and generative dialogue across several topics, fields, and interests…

Read the entire article here.

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Slavery Unseen: Sex, Power, and Violence in Brazilian History

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2018-04-10 02:50Z by Steven

Slavery Unseen: Sex, Power, and Violence in Brazilian History

Duke University Press
2018-04-06
272 pages
9 illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-7116-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-7129-8

Lamonte Aidoo, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Romance Studies
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

In Slavery Unseen, Lamonte Aidoo upends the narrative of Brazil as a racial democracy, showing how the myth of racial democracy elides the history of sexual violence, patriarchal terror, and exploitation of slaves. Drawing on sources ranging from inquisition trial documents to travel accounts and literature, Aidoo demonstrates how interracial and same-sex sexual violence operated as a key mechanism of the production and perpetuation of slavery as well as racial and gender inequality. The myth of racial democracy, Aidoo contends, does not stem from or reflect racial progress; rather, it is an antiblack apparatus that upholds and protects the heteronormative white patriarchy throughout Brazil’s past and on into the present.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. Secrets, Silences, and Sexual Erasures in Brazilian Slavery and History
  • 1. The Racial and Sexual Paradoxes of Brazilian Slavery and National Identity
  • 2. Illegible Violence: The Rape and Sexual Abuse of Male Slaves
  • 3. The White Mistress and the Slave Woman: Seduction, Violence, and Exploitation
  • 4. Social Whiteness: Black Intraracial Violence and the Boundaries of Black Freedom
  • 5. O Diabo Preto (The Negro Devil): The Myth of the Black Homosexual Predator in the Age of Social Hygiene
  • Afterword. Seeing the Unseen: The Life and Afterlives of Ch/Xica da Silva
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Marriage Battle: A Family Tradition, A Memoir by Susan C. Green and Robin J. Phillips

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Monographs, United States on 2017-12-20 23:27Z by Steven

The Marriage Battle: A Family Tradition, A Memoir by Susan C. Green and Robin J. Phillips

Mill City Press
2017-12-05
222 pages
5.25″ x 8″
Softcover ISBN 13: 9781545613429
ePub ISBN 13: 9781545616307
MOBI ISBN 13: 9781545616307

Susan C. Green and Robin J. Phillips

Golddigger, nigger lover… Those are some of the insults hurled at Iris in 1961 by the military brass when they grilled her about the relationship with Sue’s father. And when her dad Ray, a Black GI stationed in England, asked his superiors for permission to marry Sue’s mum, a white single mom from Liverpool, they asked him why he wanted to marry a whore with a bastard child. But they remained steadfast and married even though their interracial union wouldn’t be fully recognized until 1967 when Richard and Mildred Loving would prevail and anti-miscegenation laws were abolished. Like the Lovings, her parents, Iris and Ray Green fought the courts and culture to stay together and raise a family.

Their story of love and perseverance became Sue’s story and provided the inspiration for this book. She is an out and proud lesbian and it is her parent’s battle to marry and have their interracial union recognized by the law that has led Sue to her own moment to take a stand for love. She too fought for the right to marry her wife Robin. And almost 50 years to the day of the Loving decision, the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed and same sex marriages were legal.

This book is a memoir and a love and a life story about Sue’s life with Robin and her parents’ life. It spans decades from the late 1950s when our country was rocked by civil unrest, to the present nearly 60 years later. It is a story of growing up biracial and dealing with racism and living as an outsider both at home and during her family’s military postings abroad. It reveals the parallel lives of Sue and her parents who experienced traumatic events that impacted their early days and and later years, yet fought for the same shared goal. Despite the hurdles, they held on to the belief that they deserved to find someone to love, and marry that person no matter what their color or gender.

And ultimately it’s about four people falling in love with someone society said you shouldn’t love, breaking the marriage laws at the time, and being willing to deal with the consequences of those decisions. It is a love story – and is as simple, yet complicated as that.

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Life in The Hinterlands; Growing up Gay & Mixed Race on The Isle of White

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-05 17:26Z by Steven

Life in The Hinterlands; Growing up Gay & Mixed Race on The Isle of White

The Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe
2017-05-09

Ashley Thomas

Life as a mixed gay man seems a singular experience.

Who, what and where are the fluid foundations on which I’m constructed, construed and constrained. To some I am black but not Black, clearly not white or not Black enough. To others, I am an undecided shade of, well, I suppose you might say…

…Brown?

The Isle of Wight is a brilliant homophone. With its crumbling chalk and its crumbling people, it’s REALLY FUCKING WHITE. It’s located somewhere between the English south coast and 27 years ago. The island could seem blank or barren, but this is no creative backwater. At best, rural seaside racism is imaginative: I admired coconut-kicker most for its tropical rhythm…

Read the entire article here.

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We Wear the Mask: 15 Stories about Passing in America

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, History, Judaism, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion on 2017-10-17 01:52Z by Steven

We Wear the Mask: 15 Stories about Passing in America

Beacon Press
2017-10-10
224 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-080707898-3
Ebook ISBN 978-080707899-0
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 Inches

Edited by:

Brando Skyhorse, Associate Professor of English
Indiana University, Bloomington

Lisa Page, Acting Director of Creative Writing
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Fifteen writers reveal their diverse experiences with passing, including racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender, and economic.

American history is filled with innumerable examples of “passing.” Why do people pass? The reasons are manifold: opportunity, access, safety, adventure, agency, fear, trauma, shame. Some pass to advance themselves or their loved ones to what they perceive is a better quality of life.

Edited by authors Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page, We Wear the Mask is a groundbreaking anthology featuring fifteen essays—fourteen of them original—that examine passing in multifaceted ways. Skyhorse, a Mexican American, writes about how his mother passed him as an American Indian before he gradually learned and accepted who—and what—he really is. Page writes about her mother passing as a white woman without a black ex-husband or biracial children. The anthology also includes essays by Marc Fitten, whose grandfather, a Chinese Jamaican, wanted to hide his name and ethnicity and for his children to pass as “colored” in the Caribbean; Achy Obejas, a queer Jewish Cuban woman who discovers that in Hawaii she is considered white. There’s M. G. Lord, who passes for heterosexual after her lesbian lover is killed; Patrick Rosal, who, without meaning to, “passes” as a waiter at the National Book Awards ceremony; and Sergio Troncoso, a Latino man, who passes for white at an internship on Capitol Hill. These and other compelling essays reveal the complex reality of passing in America.

Other contributors include:

  • Teresa Wiltz, who portrays how she navigated racial ambiguity while growing up in Staten Island, NY
  • Trey Ellis, the author of “The New Black Aesthetic,” who recollects his diverse experiences with passing in school settings
  • Margo Jefferson, whose parents invite her uncle, a light-complexioned black man, to dinner after he stops passing as white
  • Dolen Perkins-Valdez, who explores how the glorification of the Confederacy in the United States is an act of “historical passing”
  • Gabrielle Bellot, who feels the disquieting truths of passing as a woman in the world after coming out as trans
  • Clarence Page, who interrogates the phenomenon of “economic passing” in the context of race
  • Susan Golomb, a Jewish woman who reflects on the dilemma of having an identity that is often invisible
  • Rafia Zakaria, a woman who hides her Muslim American identity as a strategy to avoid surveillance at the airport
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Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray

Posted in Books, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2017-09-20 23:40Z by Steven

Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray

Oxford University Press
2017-05-01
512 Pages
31 illustrations
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780190656454

Rosalind Rosenberg, Professor Emerita of History
Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, New York

  • Definitive biography of a key figure in the civil rights and women’s movements.
  • Sensitive exploration of a black person identified at birth as female who believed she was male, before the term “transgender” existed.
  • Murray’s legal work was influential in key Supreme Court cases.
  • New Yale residential college to be named for Murray in 2017.

Throughout her prodigious life, activist and lawyer Pauli Murray systematically fought against all arbitrary distinctions in society, channeling her outrage at the discrimination she faced to make America a more democratic country. In this definitive biography, Rosalind Rosenberg offers a poignant portrait of a figure who played pivotal roles in both the modern civil rights and women’s movements.

A mixed-race orphan, Murray grew up in segregated North Carolina before escaping to New York, where she attended Hunter College and became a labor activist in the 1930s. When she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, where her white great-great-grandfather had been a trustee, she was rejected because of her race. She went on to graduate first in her class at Howard Law School, only to be rejected for graduate study again at Harvard University this time on account of her sex. Undaunted, Murray forged a singular career in the law. In the 1950s, her legal scholarship helped Thurgood Marshall challenge segregation head-on in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

When appointed by Eleanor Roosevelt to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1962, she advanced the idea of Jane Crow, arguing that the same reasons used to condemn race discrimination could be used to battle gender discrimination. In 1965, she became the first African American to earn a JSD from Yale Law School and the following year persuaded Betty Friedan to found an NAACP for women, which became NOW. In the early 1970s, Murray provided Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the argument Ginsburg used to persuade the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution protects not only blacks but also women—and potentially other minority groups—from discrimination. By that time, Murray was a tenured history professor at Brandeis, a position she left to become the first black woman ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church in 1976.

Murray accomplished all this while struggling with issues of identity. She believed from childhood she was male and tried unsuccessfully to persuade doctors to give her testosterone. While she would today be identified as transgender, during her lifetime no social movement existed to support this identity. She ultimately used her private feelings of being “in-between” to publicly contend that identities are not fixed, an idea that has powered campaigns for equal rights in the United States for the past half-century.

Table of Contents

  • Abbreviations
  • A Note on Pronouns and Other Word Choices
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Coming of Age, 1910-1937
    • Chapter 1 – A Southern Childhood
    • Chapter 2 – Escape to New York
  • Part II: Confronting Jim Crow, 1938-1941
    • Chapter 3 – “Members of Your Race Are Not Admitted”
    • Chapter 4 – Bus Trouble
    • Chapter 5 – A Death Sentence Leads to Law School
  • Part III: Naming Jane Crow, 1941-1946
    • Chapter 6 – “I Would Gladly Change My Sex”
    • Chapter 7 – California Promise
  • Part IV: Surviving the Cold War, 1946-1961
    • Chapter 8 – “Apostles of Fear”
    • Chapter 9 – A Person In Between
    • Chapter 10 – “What Is Africa to Me?”
  • Part V: A Chance to Lead, 1961-1967
    • Chapter 11 – Making Sex Suspect
    • Chapter 12 – Invisible Woman
    • Chapter 13 – Toward an NAACP for Women
  • Part VI: To Teach, To Preach, 1967-1977
    • Chapter 14 – Professor Murray
    • Chapter 15 – Triumph and Loss
    • Chapter 16 – The Reverend Dr. Murray
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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