You can now find me over at my new blog WOCreads, where I will I continue to promote the works of women writers of color. Hope you’ll move on with me!
You can now find me over at my new blog WOCreads, where I will I continue to promote the works of women writers of color. Hope you’ll move on with me!
It’s November 9th.
Perhaps you don’t know, but on November 9th 1938, Nazis launched the Kristallnacht. Never forget! Today Neonazis are marching and celebrating.
And today, Americans voted a fascist into office. Today, Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States.
I’m so worried for you, my friends! This is horrifying and I know you will be hit the hardest. I wish I could at least be there for real hugs!
I have thought about not posting today, you need time to mourn to steal yourself for this even more explicit racist society you’re living in. I have decided to go ahead, because I still believe that diverse literature can effect real change. And so I want this blog on November 9th, 2016, to push PoC lit by focusing on indigenous #ownvoices literature.
Wonderful Brendon at Reading and Gaming for Justice is hosting the “Native Hawaiian #OwnVoices” blog event, to promote Native Hawaiian voices, to educate ourselves on our own blind spots (settler colonialism for example). Read all about it here. I have decided on non-fiction, to get you all to put some of these on your #nonfictionnovember lists and because I think, like myself, you perhaps also need some background literature. I know many of the are academic texts and there are concerns of accessibility. But I hope many of you can and will give these a try. I hope I’ll find some more accessible texts in the future, but I also love to discuss because often understanding texts happens in group discussions.
In 1897, as a white oligarchy made plans to allow the United States to annex Hawai’i, native Hawaiians organized a massive petition drive to protest. Ninety-five percent of the native population signed the petition, causing the annexation treaty to fail in the U.S. Senate. This event was unknown to many contemporary Hawaiians until Noenoe K. Silva rediscovered the petition in the process of researching this book. With few exceptions, histories of Hawai’i have been based exclusively on English-language sources. They have not taken into account the thousands of pages of newspapers, books, and letters written in the mother tongue of native Hawaiians. By rigorously analyzing many of these documents, Silva fills a crucial gap in the historical record. In so doing, she refutes the long-held idea that native Hawaiians passively accepted the erosion of their culture and loss of their nation, showing that they actively resisted political, economic, linguistic, and cultural domination. (Duke UP)
A Nation Rising chronicles the political struggles and grassroots initiatives collectively known as the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Scholars, community organizers, journalists, and filmmakers contribute essays that explore Native Hawaiian resistance and resurgence from the 1970s to the early 2010s. Photographs and vignettes about particular activists further bring Hawaiian social movements to life. The stories and analyses of efforts to protect land and natural resources, resist community dispossession, and advance claims for sovereignty and self-determination reveal the diverse objectives and strategies, as well as the inevitable tensions, of the broad-tent sovereignty movement. The collection explores the Hawaiian political ethic of ea, which both includes and exceeds dominant notions of state-based sovereignty. A Nation Rising raises issues that resonate far beyond the Hawaiian archipelago, issues such as Indigenous cultural revitalization, environmental justice, and demilitarization. (Duke uP)
The Seeds We Planted tells the story of Hālau Kū Māna, one of the only Hawaiian culture-based charter schools in urban Honolulu. Against the backdrop of the Hawaiian struggle for self-determination and the U.S. charter school movement, Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua reveals a critical tension: the successes of a school celebrating indigenous culture are measured by the standards of settler colonialism. (UP Minnesota)
Voices of Fire: Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hi’iaka
by Ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui
Stories of the volcano goddess Pele and her youngest sister Hi‘iaka, patron of hula, are most familiar as a form of literary colonialism—first translated by missionary descendants and others, then co-opted by Hollywood and the tourist industry. But far from quaint tales for amusement, the Pele and Hi‘iaka literature published between the 1860s and 1930 carried coded political meaning for the Hawaiian people at a time of great upheaval. Voices of Fire recovers the lost and often-suppressed significance of this literature, restoring it to its primary place in Hawaiian culture. (Minnesota UP)
In the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1921, the U.S. Congress defined “native Hawaiians” as those people “with at least one-half blood quantum of individuals inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.” This “blood logic” has since become an entrenched part of the legal system in Hawai‘i. Hawaiian Blood is the first comprehensive history and analysis of this federal law that equates Hawaiian cultural identity with a quantifiable amount of blood. J. Kēhaulani Kauanui explains how blood quantum classification emerged as a way to undermine Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli) sovereignty. Within the framework of the 50-percent rule, intermarriage “dilutes” the number of state-recognized Native Hawaiians. Thus, rather than support Native claims to the Hawaiian islands, blood quantum reduces Hawaiians to a racial minority, reinforcing a system of white racial privilege bound to property ownership. (Duke UP)
Many indigenous Hawaiian men have felt profoundly disempowered by the legacies of colonization and by the tourist industry, which, in addition to occupying a great deal of land, promotes a feminized image of Native Hawaiians (evident in the ubiquitous figure of the dancing hula girl). In the 1990s a group of Native men on the island of Maui responded by refashioning and reasserting their masculine identities in a group called the Hale Mua (the “Men’s House”). As a member and an ethnographer, Ty P. Kāwika Tengan analyzes how the group’s mostly middle-aged, middle-class, and mixed-race members assert a warrior masculinity through practices including martial arts, woodcarving, and cultural ceremonies. Some of their practices are heavily influenced by or borrowed from other indigenous Polynesian traditions, including those of the Māori. The men of the Hale Mua enact their refashioned identities as they participate in temple rites, protest marches, public lectures, and cultural fairs. (Minnesota UP)
Apparently critiques by Hawaiian women will be discussed as well, I certainly hope so!
Since its publication in 1993 From a Native Daughter, a provocative, well reasoned attack against the rampant abuse of Native Hawaiian rights, institutional racism, and gender discrimination, has generated heated debates in Hawai’i and throughout the world. This revised work includes new material that builds on issues and concerns raised in the first edition: Native Hawaiian student organizing at the University of Hawai’i; the master plan of the Native Hawaiian self-governing organization Ka Lahui Hawai’i and its platform on the four political arenas of sovereignty; the 1989 Hawai’i declaration of the Hawai’i ecumenical coalition on tourism; a typology on racism and imperialism. Brief introductions to each of the previously published essays brings them up to date and situates them in the current Native Hawaiian rights discussion.(UH Press)
This one comes highly recommended by Alice Walker and is somewhat of a classic in the field.
In this first extensive study of contemporary Hawaiian literature, Brandy Nalani McDougall examines a vibrant selection of fiction, poetry, and drama by emerging and established Hawaiian authors, including Haunani-Kay Trask, John Dominis Holt, Imaikalani Kalahele, and Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl. At the center of the analysis is a hallmark of Hawaiian aesthetics—kaona, the intellectual practice of hiding and finding meaning that encompasses the allegorical, the symbolic, the allusive, and the figurative.
Throughout, McDougall asserts that “kaona connectivity” not only carries bright possibilities for connecting the present to the past, but it may also ignite a decolonial future. Ultimately, Finding Meaning affirms the tremendous power of Indigenous stories and genealogies to give activism and decolonization movements lasting meaning. (U of Arizona Press)
A Chosen People, a Promised Land explores how Native Hawaiian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints negotiate their place in this quintessentially American religion. Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, this book examines Polynesian Mormon faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination. (U Minnesota Press)
Asian Settler Colonialism is a groundbreaking collection that examines the roles of Asians as settlers in Hawai‘i. Contributors from various fields and disciplines investigate aspects of Asian settler colonialism to illustrate its diverse operations and impact on Native Hawaiians. Essays range from analyses of Japanese, Korean, and Filipino settlement to accounts of Asian settler practices in the legislature, the prison industrial complex, and the U.S. military to critiques of Asian settlers’ claims to Hawai‘i in literature and the visual arts. (UH Press)
And finally, this work is not edited by Native Hawaiian people, but the book has two sections: Natives and settlers, so you’ll find their perspectives inside. I also think it is important for settlers to work through their position and so I have chosen to add this book to the list. Read the introductory chapter here!
I know it’s a horrible time, please take care and practice self-case! I’m here for hugs and talking!
In the four sections of her first poetry collection, Posada- Offerings of Witness and Refuge, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo takes us with her through the multiple, imaginative and too real border spaces of migration, language and belonging. In the first part, she goes on a journey of remembering, collecting and reconstructing her family’s history. Starting with the stolen metate they brought from Teocaltiche, Bermejo connects the memories and stories of her family, from Uncle Manny’s recollections of his tía Susana and her remedies to Bermejo’s mother who was “never gifted the story of her birth,” presenting in her work the “Pieces I’ve Gathered so Far.”
Part 2 demonstrates the way in which Bermejo draws inspiration from Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo and others and appropriately explores gender roles and the relationships of the women in her family, from mothers and daughters in “Frida’s Monkey Nurse:”
I tie her to this world never knowing where the other will spit her out, never knowing when it will finally swallow her whole
to her relationship with her grandmother, to whom this collection is dedicated, in “This Poem is for Nopales:”
Grandma, in the hospital room, when I kissed the fade of your cheek to say goodbye, crisscrossing chin hairs caught my attention. Now, when I look in the mirror and And hairs have bloomed overnight, I think of roots. I think of you. I hope I can be a nopal woman too.
In part 3, “Things to Know for Compañer@s. A No More Deaths Volunteer Guide,” Bermejo draws on her work with the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, which gives medical aid and support along the border. Her poems bear witness to life and death on the migrant trail peppered with resilient cacti.
Did you know? When barrel cacti become tombstones and their yellow starburst blooms offerings for the dead, you won’t be too cool to belt Katy Perry songs.
Did you know? Migrants are hurried over trails at night and without light. Their blisters are caused by continuous friction, muscle cramping by dehydration, vomiting by drinking bacteria ridden cow pond water, and those who move too slow are left behind.
In the last part, Bermejo pays witness to other/s’ stories of refuge and migration, connecting and piecing together similar and interrelated struggles from Arizona to Chavez Ravine to Gaza. She bears witness to tales of desperation, of refuge and migration and gives names and faces to those who too often remain just numbers to us. Posada is a fantastic, visceral debut collection of social justice poetry, not only exploring the different meanings of borders, but also providing safe spaces and comfort for those straddling them.
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is a first generation Chicana. She is a 2016-2017 Steinbeck fellow and has received residencies with Hedgebrook, the Ragdale Foundation, and is a proud member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. In Los Angeles, she is a cofounder of Women Who Submit, a literary organization using social media and community events to empower women authors to submit work for publication, and curates the quarterly reading series HITCHED.
Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge is out today! Go get it here.
Disclaimer: I was given an e-copy of this book by the publisher, Sundress Publications, but never fear I remain my opinionated self!
Gabi has a lot on her plate. It’s her last year of high school but apart from classes and college applications, she also has to deal with a father who is fighting a losing battle with meth addiction, her friend Cindy getting pregnant (as a result of date rape, we learn later), her other best friend Sebastian coming out, as well as exploring her own sexuality and first relationships.
Isabel Quintero’s first novel Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, published by CincoPuntoPress, is a tour-de-force. The good thing about being blissfully ignorant about new releases and a lot of hype before joining twitter is that I mostly missed all the excitement and picked up this book only now because I vaguely remembered someone saying it was good and it being LatinX Heritage Month. So I got to skirt the overblown expectations trap, yay, but am totally doing this to you now with this review. #sorrynotsorry
If you’re into intersectional feminism (you better be!), then this book will make you want to get out your highlighters. Let me quote this section, which everyone else is apparently also quoting (google told me, but still thanks for the easy c&p)):
My mother named me Gabriella, after my grandmother who, coincidentally, didn’t want to meet me when I was born because my mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story is the basis of my sexual education and has reiterated why it’s important to wait until you’re married to give it up. So now, every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, “Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas.” Eyes open, legs closed. That’s as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don’t mind it. I don’t necessarily agree with that whole wait until you’re married crap, though. I mean, this is America and the 21st century; not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can’t tell my mom that because she will think I’m bad. Or worse: trying to be White.
This excerpt really concisely introduces all the issues Quintero adresses in the novel and also drives home the point that Gabi lives at a very specific intersection of gender, race and ethnicity. So the novel explores one culture’s version of the double-standard, that of patriarchal machismo Mexican-American dichotomy of the virgen/puta. And Gabi has to realize that many women in her community have internalized this toxicity and police other women’s behavior and expression of sexuality (as they tend to, don’t get me started on this issue), her mother among them:
“for my mother, a woman’s whole value is what’s between her legs. And once a man has access to that, she has no more value.”
Part of this patriarchal view is also the refusal to accept homosexuality and Gabi’s friend Sebastian is thrown out by his parents when he comes out. On the other side of the coin we have the boys will be boys mentality, about which Gabi writes a scathing poem.
Gabi is furthermore not marked Mexican-American by her skin color, instead she is so light-skinned she can pass as white but as a result has to deal with feeling alienated at times. Since I basically have the opposite problem, this was an interesting change in perspective.
The book also shows Gabi’s acceptance when it comes to her body and she moves from regarding herself as a “fatgirl” to acceptance. There’s a terrible lack of “fativism” in books and hopefully this will change in coming years, but it’s another reason why I hope Gabi will be read and taught widely, so these young women will see themselves represented too.
I also loved was watching Gabi coming into her own as a poet, apart from the diary style of the novel, we also get to read Gabi’s poetry and her attempts at spoken word. Poetry is how Gabi finds a way to express and empower herself. Her words are sharp and to the point and you’ll want to pick up a poetry collection immediately after finishing this book (I’ll be gushing about one particular, exciting collection later this week, stay tuned!).
The language use is wonderfully done as well, I’m glad there’s no glossary and hardly any translations. Quintero makes me work for it and I gladly got out my rusty Spanish for beginners knowledge, and between knowing other romance language and guessing from context…no excuses people! I’m sure LatinX will love this book and the intermingling of English and Spanish…Spanglish? And us other readers do well to remember to work on our privilege.
It’s amazing that this is a first novel. It’s a book that will be taught in high schools and colleges everywhere!
Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!
It’s here: Diverse Detective Fiction Month! I’m super excited and thanks all who are joining us! (everyone else can still join us, sign up here)
So, this event (go ahead and call it a challenge if you’re feeling competitive) will be hosted by @siliconphospho and myself, @Bina_ReadThis because detective fiction is our comfort genre, but at first glance utterly normative, and when Silicon asked for recs and came up with an amazing list, things snowballed. So here we are, who’s in the mood for exploring the diverse side of detective fiction?
Here’s the guidelines:
Have fun! Also, read at least 1 diverse detective story (we encourage you to go for #ownvoices books!) and post a review on your blog or goodreads between October 1st and October 31st. Also, feel free to follow us on twitter and gush a lot about the books or audiobooks or short stories you’re reading! Use the hashtag #DiverseDetectives
So I kinda took this opportunity to stock up my mystery shelf with some much-needed diverse books. Okay fine, that’s partly the reason for the challenge! Here’s my tbr for the challenge, as you can see, I’m trying to lead by example 😉
Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara
Blanche On the Lam by Barbara Neely
Cosmic Callisto Caprica & The Missing Rings of Saturn by Sophia Chester
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Moseley
Dead Time by Eleanor Taylor Bland
The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang
Cactus Blood by Lucha Corpi
Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors ed. by Barbara Neely
Make sure to check out our goodreads list for recommendations or vote for books there if you have recommendations for us!
Fall, my favorite season!! So far it’s been unusually warm and sunny over here, I’d love a few degrees less but hey at least it’s dry, that never happens! Fall is when I start buying IKEA candles in bulk and get out all the quilts and spicy teas. My typical fall reading is either cozy or suspenseful lit and with the Diverse Detective Fiction Month starting this weekend, I know I’ll be reading a lot of mysteries. I’ve posted a bit already about what horror lit I want to read and what’s on this week’s list, but anyway here are 10 reads that would make an ideal fall tbr for me:
One of my favorites to reread, it’s got Victorian England, lesbians, séance and is wonderfully atmospheric and twisty.
Latinx fantasy including brujas, monsters, LGBTQ, and kick ass women of color! Reading it for Diverse SFF Book Club.
One of my choices for #DiverseDetectives and I cannot wait! A smart middle-aged Black woman housekeeper turned sleuth? Hell yes!
Always creepy, sometimes funny, horror prose and poetry! There is not enough silly and funny horror, I need more!
I loved Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban and this one is supposed to boast some Latina gothic elements. How to resist!?
No fall list is complete without some of Due’s fiction. It’s time to start her African Immortals series, it’s got Ethiopia, vampires and (im)mortality!
And some good old non-fiction, how could I possibly resist the intersection of horror and race!? It’s an exploration of the visual representation of Black social history and possible spaces for challenging and subverting stereotypes.
A complex heroine, fantastic art and steampunk horror, I’m in! Everyone’s been gushing about this one, so now I only need to get my hands on a copy.
Noir lit and Haitian culture all in one! I’ve read a few in this anthology and have been meaning to get back to it for a while.
More non-fiction cause I feel the need to expand on my gothic lit knowledge and Southern gothic is a gateway to “tropical” gothic! 🙂
Now let me know which books have made it onto your fall tbr!
The meme that we use to share what we read this past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week. Now hosted by The Book Date.
I’ve managed to finish some books finally, I feel like I’m always working through 6 books at a time, and it takes me ages to get anything read. Time to rethink that strategy, but I’m always saying that. I did finish two good ones though:
Opal Charm: The Path To Dawn by Miri Castor is the first book in a fantasy series about reluctant heroine Opal Charm, who struggles with life and family as it is, but then her new friend Hope Adaire let’s slip that Opal is the only one to save Hope’s world from destruction. Poor Opal! A very readable fantasy novel and I’ll be reading the sequel when it comes out.
Unhallowed Graves by Nuzo Onoh is a Nigerian horror collection and I did my best to read it in daylight but it’s much more fun to read at night by candle light. Fantastic settings and use of mythology, do read if you’re into the creepy stuff!
Since it’s also finally fall, my favorite season, I went to the pumpkin market. Most of these will make excellent dinners as well as pumpkin bread and cookies!
Reading some more excellent books at the moment. I have too many on the go, but here’s what I’m mostly focusing on:
Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver. A YA/NA fantasy book about a failed hero with the chance at redemption. So far I’m really into the anti-normativity of the characters and the story’s politics. And finally someone who knows what demiromantic is and yeah that got my attention, so here I am reading a book with lots of romance elements.
Hen & Chick by Tristan J. Tarwater, another YA fantasy. Kinda proud of myself for exploring more YA! Also, this one has pirates AND magic! How could I resist? Add to that brown girls kicking ass and a focus on mother-daughter relationships.
Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, a wonderful collection of poetry. I’m working my way through it at the moment, since it’s LatinX Heritage Month and check out all the amazing LatinX things going on at Naz’s Read Diverse Books!
It’ll be October soon and I’m very excited for the Diverse Detective Fiction Month hosted by Silicon and myself. More info here, including sign-ups. The only requirement is to read 1 #DiverseDetectives book and write about it on your blog/goodreads/bookstagram. Won’t you join us?
What have you all been up to? Have a great week!