Monday, February 25, 2008

Some thoughts on the magical negro

Recently, I did an interview with Geralyn Beauchamp about her book, Time Masters: Book One, The Call.

Then, later, in yet another discussion among black specfic writers, I actually found myself defending the magical negro. Ah gee, how did that happen? Actually, it's not as if I defended that type of character. I just kinda excused white writers who use them. Yes, i do groan whenever this kind of character pops up in a book written by a white character. But I don't bent out of shape as some of my black colleagues do.

Okay, okay, I've heard the arguments against these characters:
1) characters like these pretend to be making us minorities look like good people but it's just another way of dehumanizing us and taking away our individuality.

Yeah, yeah...

As I said to my black friends -- and I was resoundedly challenged and put down for this-- sometimes white writers are trying to do a quota thing. In an email recently with Sylvia Kelso, she mentioned that Connie Willis did not mention any black people in the novel Lincoln's Dreams. Sylvia thought a black character was needed. I, on the other hand, thought... heck, if there was no room for a black character in the story... why put a black character into the story?

And yet, I DO kinda have patience with white writers who feel they need to put a person of color into a book. I remember hearing a Jewish author talk about how annoying it was to see Jews pop up in books merely to "mean" something or to be a symbol. I have seen so many books in which black folks and Jewish folks and Hispanic folks are in books simply to "mean" something.

So there are two reasons for this Magical Negro inclusion bit:

One, a white writer needs to symbolize a triumphant, noble, suffering person...and who best to put in to "mean" this kind of thing but a black person or a Jewish person or a spiritual Native American tree-hugger?

Two, the white writer sometimes needs to put in a black person because the white writer wants to say something about racism. Okay, sometimes it's done badly. Sometimes we're stuck with a poor starving black child of a drug-addicted black mom and they are rescued by a liberal kind-hearted white person. That is the "we as whites are put on earth to raise up the blacks" mentality. Of course this kind of thing is offensive. The "take up the white man's burden" kind of liberality or the "take up the white female's burden" type of liberalness and feminism does make a minority woman of color (whether the white woman is "helping" an Iranian women wearing a hajib or a poor little suffering latina escaping to El Norte or a deluded innocent Christian woman who has been oppressed by the evil patriarchal Christian world or a poor little uneducated black woman with great faith).

But what if the white writer wanted to do something against racism? Stephen King, for instance, is from Maine. I have no doubt -- no doubt, whatsover-- that he does these magical negro types because he lives among folks in Maine who well....may or may know any real Negroes...and who may very well have racist ideas about us. (One day I'll tell you my story about a trip I had in New England. Right now, sufficeth to say, Stephen is probably doing a great job of enlightening certain folks.) I mean...some groups have actually benefitted by being shown as magical. I have yet to hear a gay person complain about the use of the magical gay person in movies, TV, and books. That magical, funny, quirky, witty, idiosyncratic, and just-so-cuddly eccentric magical gay person and the suffering, noble, triumphant gay person has done a lot for making homosexuality more acceptable in modern society. And I have no doubt that all those wise-cracking jolly fat women who roam television have also helped (in some weird way) the black cause. And I am sure that all those movies in which an illegal alien from Mexico is shown as a sweet-faced oppressed person...have colored our view of the immigration degate. So there is some kind of benefit in these portrayals. Heck, even if they can't see us as humans, they at least see us as objects of humor or pity.

But back to my point...reasons for possibly excusing the magical negro. There is the question of honoring a person. By which I mean...what if the white racist actually did come from some lily-white town and actually knew a lovely kind black or minority person who was a symbol of strength and peace. Folks, this kind of thing still happens in this country. This is what Geralyn mentioned in her interview. In her small little town in the west, she had a black teacher. There are black folks all over this country doing the magical negro stuff in their daily lives. (Okay, in real life, they probably are as weak as anyone else...but in their public life as the only black person in the middle of nowhere, they dang well are triumphanting nobly.) What do we do with a black writer who wants to honor such a person?

So, I dunno.... I'm still kinda on the fence when it comes to whether I actually think magical negroes are a totally bad thing. Or maybe I just think that white writers who use them are not so very bad. And honestly, I'm not gonna jump down the throats of any white writer who includes in her novel something that makes me cringe. Of course, I do kinda groan when I see how religious people are treated in books by secular writers. And I'm hoping that whether my books are overtly religious (as in Wind Follower) or subtly so, that those who read my books will finish the book saying, "I know now what a real black person is like. I know now what a real religious person acts like. I will never again indulge in stereotyping magical people, as stupid-in-need-of-enlightenment people, or as evil people." IF I can do that, then I will have succeeded. -C

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Speculative Literature Foundation Is Seeking Applicants

SLF Older Writers Grant

The SLF Older Writers Grant is awarded annually to a writer who is fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. We are currently offering one $750 grant annually, to be used as the writer determines will best assist his or her work.

This grant will be awarded by a committee of SLF staff members on the basis of merit. Factors considered will include:

  • a short (less than 500 words) autobiographical statement, describing the writer and his/her work thus far; be sure to include date of birth
  • a writing sample (up to 10 pages of poetry, 10 pages of drama, or 10,000 words of fiction or creative nonfiction -- if sending a segment of a novel, novella, or novellette, please include a one-page synopsis as well)
  • a bibliography of previously-published work by the author (no more than one page, typed); applicants need not have previous publications to apply

If awarded the grant, the recipient agrees to provide a brief excerpt from their work, and an autobiographical statement describing themselves and their writing (500-1000 words) for our files, and for possible public dissemination on our website.

PLEASE NOTE: This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature. If you're not sure what areas that term encompasses, we recommend referencing our FAQ (question #2).

Older Writers Grant Application Procedures

  1. Send the three items listed above to our older writers grant administrator Malon Edwards as attached .doc files, to Include a brief cover letter with your name and contact info (e-mail, phone in case of emergency). If you have questions, direct them to that same address.
  2. Older writer grant applications will be considered from January 1st to March 31st, annually. Applications received outside that period will be discarded unread.
  3. The grant recipient will be announced by June 1, annually. All applicants will be notified of the status of their application by that date.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Native American Literature Symposium

The Native American Literature Symposium, Many Voices, One Center.

The date is: March 27-29,
The location is: Minneapolis, MN.

The Native American Literature Symposium is organized by an independent group of indigenous scholars committed to making a place where Native voices can be heard.
Since 2002, we have brought together some of the most influential voices in Native America to share our stories-- in art, prose, poetry, film, religion, history, politics, music, philosophy, and science --from our worldview.

With literature as a crossroads where many forms of knowledge meet—art, history, politics, science, religion—we welcome everyone once again to join us in spirited participation on all aspects of American Indian studies. There will be panel discussions, readings, exhibits, demonstrations, and workshops highlighting the heritage and impact of Native Americans on current American literature.

Check out:

The host facility for the symposium will be the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

Please note that the Mystic Lake Casino is an alcohol-free facility and respect their policies.

Conference rates: Guest room rates are $79 based on single/double occupancy. There is a $10 charge for each additional person with a maximum of 5 people per room. Be sure to mention that you are with the Native American Literature Symposium when you make your reservations to ensure that you receive the conference rate.
After March 1, 2008, the unreserved portion of our guestroom block will be released and any reservation requests received after this date will be subject to standard guest room rates and availability.

Air Travel: Book your flights into Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

Ground Transportation: Shuttles and rental cars are available at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.

If you are renting a car and are willing to share a ride with other participants,
also notify the Registration Coordinator.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interesting Post by Harlan Ellison over at Steven Barne's Blog: Dar Kush

Dar Kush: Harlan on the Writer's Strike

Apparently Harlan Ellison is none to happy with the new contract.
Click here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mistakes First-Time Authors Make (25): How to Avoid Them

Article by Barbara Joe-Williams.
Taken from BackList. You'll have to subscribe here for free to read the entire article.

As a first time self-published author, you want to avoid making as many costly mistakes as possible. Based on research and several years of publishing experience, I’d like to share some of the mistakes that I’ve made and show you how to avoid making them. Please proceed with caution.

1. Publishing books with unattractive covers and spending too much money on them. Hire someone to design an attractive front book cover. Or you can save money by developing the book cover drafts yourself. Simply download royalty-free pictures and add your own text.

2. Printing books in large quantities because it’s the most economical value. With print-on-demand (POD) printers, you no longer have to print large quantities of books to receive a good return on your investment. You can print as few or as many as you need at one time.

3. Paying large amounts for website development and maintenance. Find a web hosting company, download a template, upload your book information, and maintain the site yourself for a low monthly or yearly fee. Most of these companies provide 24/7 customer support.

4. Working without an action plan or any means of accountability. Writing may be your passion, but publishing is a business. Therefore, you have to develop a business plan to follow and show accountability for your funds.

Interview with the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars

Having traced my own African Ancestry to Sierra Leone led me on a quest to understand and devour all things Sierra Leonean. Part of that search included the discovery of this group, formed at a refugee camp during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

This article features an interview with lead singer, Reuben Koroma. Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Brown Bookshelf’s “28 Days Later”

28 Days Later is a "Black History Month celebration of children’s literature". For each day of February, the Brown Bookshelf will feature an interview with an author.

Here’s the full line-up:

Feb 1 Christopher Paul Curtis - Elijah of Buxton

Feb 2 Michelle Meadows - The Way The Storm Stops

Feb 3 Dana Davidson - Played

Feb 4 Rita Williams-Garcia – No Laughter Here

Feb 5 G. Neri – Chess Rumble & Sean Qualls - Phillis’s Big Test

Feb 6 Janice N. Harrington – The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Feb 7 Eleanora E. Tate – Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance

Feb 8 Patricia McKissack – The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

Feb 9 M. Sindy Felin – Touching Snow

Feb 10 Jabari Asim – Daddy Goes To Work

Feb 11 Mildred D. Taylor – The Road To Memphis

Feb 12 Nina Crews - The Neighborhood Mother Goose & Leonard Jenkins – Sweet Land of Liberty

Feb 13 Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu – The Shadow Speaker

Feb 14 Allison Whittenberg – Sweet Thang

Feb 15 Walter Dean Myers - Game

Feb 16 Tonya Bolden – George Washington Carver

Feb 17 Troy CLE – The Marvelous Effect

Feb 18 Eloise Greenfield – The Friendly Four

Feb 19 Sundee T. Frazier – Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It & John Holyfield - Bessie Smith & the Night Riders

Feb 20 Carole Boston Weatherford – I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer

Feb 21 Karen English - Nikki & Deja

Feb 22 Coe Booth - Tyrell

Feb 23 Irene Smalls – My Pop Pop and Me

Feb 24 Stephanie Perry Moore – Prayed Up: Perry Skky Jr. #4

Feb 25 Kyra E. Hicks – Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria

Feb 26 Celise Downs – Dance Jam Productions & Shane Evans- When Harriet Met Sojourner

Feb 27 Valerie Wilson Wesley – Willimena Rules!: 23 Ways to mess up Valentine’s Day

Feb 28 Sherri L. Smith - Sparrow

Review of Havoc After Dark: Tales of Terror

Havoc After Dark: Tales of Terror
Robert Fleming
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp
New York, NY 10022
ISBN 0-7582-0575-9
price US14.00 CAN$20.
241 pages

Rating: Excellent

With the exception of Stephen King and Jewish writers such as Kafka, most white horror writers don’t really delve into the political and socio-cultural importance of history and race. As in most horror tales, the victims in these fourteen stories are victims of time and place. But Robert Fleming, an African-American writer of horror and suspense and a former journalist uses geography to show the power of history, secrets and chained truth in the lives. He brings political insights about the African diaspora to his taut well-written book of short terror tales.

From Pere Bas in “Life After Bas” to Aunt Tina’s little daughter in “Wisdom of Serpents” to Herr Dorr and his Nazi butchers in Arbeit Macht Frei whether temporarily or throughout the ages, the oppressors in these stories are parasitic opportunists who seek powerless weak or ignorant targets to torment. The torment is often psychological, sexual, or physical. And the effect of the encounter with these tortures endures.

These villains have their helpers of course. Whether ignorant of the villain or complicit in his actions, those in society often help to deepen the horror and helplessness of the victim suddenly caught up in the havoc of horrifying circumstances. And often would-be helpers are helpless. For instance, in “Life After Bas” and “The Tenderness of Monsieur Blanc,” the western mind is so unable to acknowledge the supernatural that psychologists only help to further entomb the victim, Marlene Baye. They speak of psychoses when all about them are ancestral evil and spiritual mysteries. They suggest materialistic medicine when the needed physician is a shaman, witch-doctor, or priest who understands the demonic and who knows the truth that will set the captive free.

These victims of horror are often brought towards their destiny by paternal or ancestral actions they had nothing to do with, by disregarding a small bit of advice or their own common sense, by the pull of human lust or a small seemingly insignificant action. Grace and mercy are rarely found in these stories. Rather, justice, punishment, and evil are relentless.

Appropriately enough, most of the stories contain an element of eroticism since it is often lust –on the part of both victim and victimizer– that brings about the oppression. And in these sexual couplings, not only is the war between the sexes explored but racial and cultural ramifications are also examined. Although mercy is rarely found in these stories, justice has its kinder, gentler moments. “The Ultimate Bad Luck”, which is Fleming’s take on the old “dominant white female in need of black male sexuality” cliche is funny and has a hopeful twist about the importance of small kindnesses.

Generally, a good book is written for all readers. But there’s something about reading a book written by someone from one’s own culture. As all readers can read and enjoy Joy Luck Club or Bastard out of Carolina without being Chinese or lesbian, so the white reader can enjoy Havoc After Dark without being African-American. I felt as if I had come home when I read this book because the characters are so down-home and often speak a cultural language I understand. But those who understand the language of the supernatural and the language of horror will like it also.

Highly recommended.

Soweto Gospel Choir

My friend Nick Wood, a white South-African writer sent me a lovely CD of the Soweto Gospel Choir. Lots of African rhythms...and what also surprised me...a lot of African-American musical stylings also. Pretty good. You'll recognize some of the songs, definitely...and some, well, you won't know the words at all because the songs aren't in English. Great stuff though. Especially if you like Ladysmith Black Mombaza.

Check out their songs on youtube and also at their website.

A review of Plenty Good Room by Cheri Edwards

Plenty Good Room
By Cheri Paris Edwards
Warner Books
ISBN 0-446-57647-6
US$23.95 CAN$32.95
Published 2005
321 pages

Rating: Good

Plenty Good Room by Cheri Paris Edwards is a new novel from an emerging genre: African-American Christian fiction. It also falls into what the Japanese call a "business novel" because it is about the working place. The difference between this and a typical business novel, however, is that the main character, an African-American woman, is not ruthlessly trying to be rich. Her problem is that she feels a lot and is too involved with her charges.

The main characters are Tamara Britton, who (unlike the stereotypical black female characters one sees in the media) is often unable to challenge those who bully her --and she is not jumping into bed with anyone. Tamara is also looking for information on an old acquaintance, and she is attracted to Isaiah Perry but unable to bring herself to really get to know him. Because she’s such a wuss, Tamara -- a worker in the Children’s Protective Agency -- gets stuck taking care of Sienna Larson, a runaway teenage girl with an attitude. Sienna changes Tamara’s life, in the end...and surprises pop up in the end.

Traditionally, Christian fiction books have dealt with issues such as supernatural spiritual warfare, home-spun country stories, frontier stories, and romance. Temptations against the status quo appears and are conquered and the status quo --a good American normal life– returns. Very rarely did African-Americans pop up in Christian fiction, except as props to show the white writer’s opinion on racial or societal problems. African-American fiction, on the other hand, always dealt with relationships, slavery, the mean urban streets Christian writers While many African-American writers were Christians, these different genres were literally worlds apart. For white Christian writers, the culmination of the heroine’s journey was a return to the goodness of the normal world, to Eden, in short. For the African-American or minority Christian writer, Eden has not been achieved. The farm on the frontier was a long-off dream, and even if such a farm was attained, the white Christian would probably be trying to steal it from him.

For better or worse, Plenty Good Room is typical of many African-American books: it often feels like a sociological tome. In this case, the story centers on little runaway Sienna Larson. Actually, Sienna is not the only runaway in the books. Other people turn up missing. Reflecting certain aspects of African-American life, people are always disappearing, running away, or in limbo separated from good or bad or unknowing relatives. But this is a Christian book and even if people are missing, they are not missing to God who works out all things for good. Life, then, is a mystery, often a sweet mystery in which a believer suddenly sees the loving working of the kingdom of God.

The book is firmly rooted in both the black middle class and the poorer class. It deals with contemporary issues and is insightful and faith-filled without being sentimental. The characters are true-to-life and the book is more of a novel about work and family than it is about love. The Christianity is apparent without being too preachy. Recommended.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Black History Month Recommended Reading List

The Carl Brandon Society, who is dedicated to addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror, has put out a recommended reading list of books for Black History Month. The list is below:

"So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy" edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan

"Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler

"Dhalgren" by Samuel R. Delany

"My Soul to Keep" by Tananarive Due

"The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad" by Minister Faust

"Mindscape" by Andrea Hairston

"Wind Follower" by Carole McDonnell

"Futureland" by Walter Mosley

"The Shadow Speaker" by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

"Zahrah the Windseeker" by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu


• PARALLAX AWARD given to works of speculative fiction created by a
person of color:

"47" by Walter Mosley

• KINDRED AWARD given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with
issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic

"Stormwitch" by Susan Vaught

Facts About the Cherokee

Living outside of the Rez, it’s been a challenge for me growing up to connected with my people, but I’m hoping to keep my kids from having the same trouble. I figured since I’m teaching my children about how our ancestors lived, I thought it might be fun to share some of what they are learning with all of you as well.

Facts about the Cherokee People

In the Cherokee language the name of our people is Tsalagi which derives from a Muskogee word that means “speaker of another language”, though originally our people called themselves Aniyunwiya, "the principal people”.

There are two major bands of Cherokee (three if you count the The Echota Cherokee who is recognized only by the state of Alabama, which I do), the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokees. Now, this is not counting all of the sub-tribes. The band in Oklahoma was part of the group that was forced out upon the Trail of Tears. The eastern band hid in the Smoky Mountains to avoid displacement, or returned to the lands of their foremothers. My family is part of the second band.

There are seven clans of the Cherokee People, all clans are passed down from mother to child. Unfortunately, from what I’ve come to understand this means because my grandfather married a non-Cherokee, we are clanless. Here is what the tribal site says about each clan. This is the most accurate info I’ve found to date. :)

Blue (A NI SA HO NI), who made medicine from a blue-colored plant to keep the children well. Also known as the Pantheror Wild Cat Clan.
Long Hair (A NI GI LO HI), also known as The Twister, Hair Hanging Down or Wind Clan. They wore elaborate hairdos and walked with a proud, twisting gait. Peace Chiefs were usually of this clan.

Bird (A NI TSI S KWA), skilled hunters of birds, using blowguns and snares. They may have been messengers, as are the birds in many Cherokee legends.

Paint (A NI WO DI), who made red paint and served as healers and medicine men. They prepared teas for vapor therapy specific to each ailment.

Deer (A NI KA WI), keepers of the deer. Known for their speed afoot and success as deer hunters.

Wild Potato (A NI GA TO GE WI), gatherers of the wild potato in swamps along streams. Also known as the Bear, Raccoon, or Blind Savannah Clan.

Wolf (A NI WA YAH), the largest and most prominent clan. Most war chiefs came from this clan, the only clan allowed to hunt wolves.

When a Cherokee child was disobedient they were not verbally or physically reprimanded. They were simply ignored, or teased into behaving. Not just by there parent, but by everyone. Within the safety they were in no danger from such treatment, and I’m betting learned real quick how bad it sucked for the family to be mad at them.

As many people know, the Cherokee created their own alphabet. In fact this written version of the Cherokee language, called “talking leaves”, was formed through the work of a Cherokee man named Sequoyah. It quickly led to an almost total literacy among the Cherokee as a nation. I bet ya more of them could read then the settlers and soldier in the area.

Lets talk about one of my favorite topics, Cherokee food. Now there are tons of recipes, so traditional, and others developed because of the limited supplies on the Rez. Here are a few I’ve made myself.

Fry Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour (oat flours is a fine substitute)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1-1/3 cups warm water
Vegetable oil for frying
Honey Sugar and cinnamon mixed

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the water and knead the dough until soft. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board until 1/4" thick. Cut out 4" rounds. Heat 1"-2" of oil in a saucepan or deep fryer. Fry the bread until puffed. Turn bread when edges are brown on both sides. Brush with honey and dip into cinnamon and sugar.

Potato soup

Peel white potatoes and cut them into small pieces. Boil in water with an onion or two until potatoes and onions mash easily. After mashing add some fresh milk (rice or soy milk can be used if you’d prefer) and gently reheat the mixture. Add salt and pepper if desired. Serve hot.

Fried Hominy (A-Ma-Gi)

2 strips of good bacon (fried and crumbled)
2 cups of hominy
2 or 3 green onions (cut into small bits)
Crumble bacon, and add onions. When the onions start appearing to be frying, add hominy and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes first on high heat, then on low.

Okay, there was no tribe listed for this last one when I found it years ago, but its sooooo good I thought I’d share. it's become a family tradition in our home.

Salmon Cakes

1 lb canned salmon, flaked (including liquid)
4 juniper berries, crushed
1/3 cup corn meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk

Instructions: Mix all ingredients together, spoon into a well-greased muffin tin. Bake 350 degrees, for 30 minutes. Even my kids like these.

The Cherokee lived in two kids of homes depending on the season. The summer home was generally made with small trees and stalks of a bamboo-like river plant called switch grass, or of logs. Post made the frame of the rectangular summer house and the grass was woven to make the walls. Then the walls were covered in a fine layer of mud. The roof was made with bark shingles and the deerskin door was often left open to keep the inside cool during the day.

The winter home was called Asi, and was round in shape. It had a thatched roof that was cone-shaped. There were no window in this home, and only a small hole for a door you crawl in to enter. Thick mud walls kept out the cold. A fire burned inside the hearth at the center of the Asi all winter and kept everyone inside comfy and warm.

A really cool thing about Cherokee leadership is there were two chiefs. One for war time called the Red Chief, and one for peace times, called the White Chief. From each clan there was a man who rules with the White Chief his council. This didn’t mean the women didn’t have a voice my any means. In fact during war time a council of women called War Women or Beloved Women was on every war council. Many of those women had warrior son or had won war honors in battle themselves.

Instead of battles on the field, often despites with enemies were settled in a game of stickball. That’s not saying playing the game was that much safer. It wasn’t uncommon for player to get seriously injured or die. The game was also called the “little brother of war” and the losers often lost large areas of land to the winners. So, as you can imagine the games got rough. The game of lacrosse came from the game of stickball.

Storytelling was a huge pastime in a Cherokee village. During the winder games and stories passed the time, and all year round they taught ethics and other important lessons to the children of the tribe. I’ve listed several of the stories I plan to read to my kids (once the printer is fixed or a memorize them well enough)

The Origin of Medicine
Rattlesnake Story by Eagle Woman (look for the video link at the bottom of the page there)

For the clothing I thought it might be fun to let pictures do the taking. In the summer the women didn’t wear tops, so to keep things pg13 lets look at some winter gear and men’s clothing.

I’ll start with this picture. This is a current photo, but it’s traditional garb. This is Chief Red Hawk. He is a Cherokee Indian and former Chief of the Bird-Band for the American Cherokee Confederacy of Georgia. He is an old-style, traditional dancer and master storyteller.

Cherokee speaker Diamond Brown stands in front of a teepee during a presentation called “Touch the Earth with Native People” at the Whitfield County Career Academy.

And of course the familiar tear dress. I bet ya’ll can guess what that was named after.

Once the Cherokee were a vast empire which stretch over a much lager territory then many know of them today. There first documented exposure to non-Indians was Hernando De Soto and his lot, but it was nearly a hundred years before they began trading with the first white settlers.

In 1822 the first Cherokee Supreme Court was founded and not long after that law began to be written for the tribe, by the tribe courts. They wrote their own constitution, elected Chief John Ross, all the views of democracy our country is suppose to uphold today. Too bad the treaties they made with the American government were far less fair and on the up and up then the Cherokees own laws were.

Around 1829 or so the Georgian government abolishes the tribal government. The Cherokee fight and win a case with the US Supreme Court, whose judgment is later ignored by President Jackson. By 1838 the horror that is the Trail of Tears had begun. During the journey more than 4,000 Cherokee died from exposure and disease.

For those who what to learn more there’s a wonderful independent newspaper call the Cherokee Observer, which is certainly worth a look see.

And cause I got to give props where its due…
Chief Wilma Mankiller, First Woman Leader of the Cherokee Nation

Rissi Palmer: another black milestone

I just discovered Rissi Palmer a Black Female Country Singer. YAY!!!!!! Yep, I'm happy. Know what it's like watching country music videos on television? Those cowboys defining country girls (and also defining beauty) as blonde-haired and blue-haired? Go, Rissi! Continue to be brave! All we black women out there want to see a gorgeous black woman on country television.

Check out her video Country Girl?

And her interview about performing


An anthology of original noir short stories set in Indian Country will be released next year. The editors are seeking stories that take place in Indian Country, which includes Canadian reserves, U.S. reservations, Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexican Indian land, and/or stories that revolve around Native characters. Stories may be historical, literary and/or crime fiction, as long as they are previously unpublished, and stories that take place in the Eastern or Southern United States are particularly needed. Writers of First Nation ancestry are especially invited to submit. Emerging writers, as well as established authors, are encouraged to send their work. Stories should be 3,000 - 6,000 words, and the deadline is May 15, 2008. Pay will be approximately $200, and rights revert back to the author. Direct any questions or send stories via e-mail to

Call for submissions: Latino mystery reader


Deadline is Feb. 15, 2008; established and emerging Hispanic authors encouraged to send mystery short stories for ground-breaking anthology to be published next year by Arte Público Press

Showcase your talents as a Hispanic/Latino author of short fiction by writing a mystery story for a ground-breaking anthology, The Latino Mystery Reader, to be published next year by Arte Público Press. The anthology will include short mystery stories by Latino writers thrilling readers with previously unpublished work. There's no anthology like this on the market, and this book will fill the void. Many of the acclaimed Latino writers in the United States are already committed to this project. Our vision is to bring together a unique melding of the successful and prominent authors in this genre with new talent and exciting new voices.

This anthology will include works from established and emerging Hispanic/Latino authors who write in English (no translations), who are U.S.-based or U.S.-born, and whose heritage stems from a Spanish-speaking country or area, including Spain and the Americas. (This anthology will not include works from authors whose heritage is from Portugal or Brazil.)

Send your unpublished short fiction of approximately 4,000-7,000 words to The Latino Mystery Reader, c/o Liz Martínez, 47-01 Greenpoint Ave., #114, Sunnyside, NY 11104-1709, or e-mail as a MS Word or WordPerfect document to (E-mail submissions are preferred, but snail-mail submissions will be cheerfully accepted). The deadline for submission is February 15, 2008.

Editors of The Latino Mystery Reader are Liz Martínez (New York City) and Sarah Cortez (Houston, Texas). Both are experienced, award-winning authors and editors coupling their criminal justice experience with a love of mystery and short fiction. Liz Martínez is the author of the highly respected non-fiction book The Retail Manager's Guide to Crime and Loss Prevention (Looseleaf Law Publications, 2004) and has recently published short stories in the anthologies Manhattan Noir, edited by Lawrence Block, and Queens Noir, edited by Robert Knightly (both published by Akashic Books). Sarah Cortez's debut volume of poetry How To Undress A Cop (Arte Público Press, 2000) introduced street policing to the world of literary poetry. Her most recent project has been the editing of a highly acclaimed collection of memoir essays from around the United States titled Windows into My World: Latino Youth Write Their Lives (Arte Público Press, 2007).

Email with any questions

CFP: Minority resiliency

Call for Papers

Hello everyone. I hope all is well. I am pleased to attach the following call for papers for an edited volume, Minority Resiliency and the Legacy of Disaster, which DeMond Miller and I are editing. I hope that you will do two things: 1) consider submitting work and 2) broadcast the Call For Papers far and wide.

Dear social science and liberal arts research colleagues,

Call for manuscripts for a peer-reviewed book: Minority Resiliency and the Legacy of Disaster

Editors: Jason D. Rivera (Rowan University) and DeMond S. Miller (Rowan University).

Minority Resiliency and the Legacy of Disaster discusses race, class, ethnicity, nationality, and gender, and how these factors have affected people's relationships with the American government in the context of disasters. This edited volume will allow historians, public administration professionals and researchers, social scientists, and political scientists an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of Hispanic, African, Asian and Native Americans in the context of natural and technological disasters, and focus on how these experiences have impacted these groups' political, economic and social development in American society. The co-editors are experienced researchers in the effects of social characteristics and politics on the experiences of minorities in disaster recovery and relief. We feel that this text will help explain the development of certain minority/ethnic communities in the United States, and the way in which past and current disasters have impacted their development and vulnerability. There is currently a lack of comprehensive research on the way minority groups are adversely affected by disasters and the long-term impacts of these events on their social and political development. We believe that by developing a cross-comparative discussion on the way different American minority groups are affected, interact with government agencies in the midst of disasters, and how these groups individually cope with disaster emergency management officials, the government can more effectively deal with these groups in crisis situations. Moreover, we wish to shed light on the way natural phenomena have influenced and continue to influence the development of social minority groups within a developed country in an age when contemporary ideologies view social group development independent of the physical landscape, and based predominantly on economics and politics.

Chapter proposals about minority experiences in the context of natural and technological disasters and their impacts on minority group social, political and economic development are being accepted in the following four areas:

Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans

Chapters should attempt to answer some of the following questions in the above areas:

How does the historical construction of race/ethnicity in the United States impact the way ethnic communities are responded to in a disaster?

How does race/ethnicity, as it is constructed in the United States, impact the way the officials respond to minority needs in disasters situations?

What are the current challenges, issues, and structural legal and cultural barriers that enable or constrain ethnic minorities in their struggle to access government assistance?

What historic and contemporary social, demographic, political and public policy trends impact the practice of civic-government interactions of those most vulnerable?

How have historical and contemporary disasters directly/indirectly impacted the economic, political, social and demographic presence of these groups in the greater American culture?

What are or have been the political, social, economic, and legal implications of the government's interaction with these groups during the occurrence of disasters?

How have these groups' experiences with natural disasters and the subsequent government response impacted their development?

A potential list of topics for all minority categories:


Issues of Native American Sovereignty and Disaster Mitigation/Response

Living in FEMA trailer communities

Economic Impacts of Disasters

Cultural Impacts of Disasters

Political (national and/or local) Impacts of Disasters

Social Capital and Rates of Recovery

Issues of Citizenship and Disaster Recovery/Response

Recovery and/or Response to Technological Disasters

Legal Issues

Race Relations


Childhood and Family Issues

Memory and Remembrance

Immigration and Demographic Shifts

Send a 3 - 5 page double-spaced chapter proposal by March 1, 2008 to:
Jason D. Rivera at mailto riveraja(at) .

Invitations for full chapters will be sent by March 31, 2008. Chapter drafts (30-35 double-spaced) will be due July 1, 2008. This book is under advance contract with Edwin Mellen Press.

Roundtable on Fantasy

Check out the Roundtable on People of Color in Fantasy.

Black and Christian and spec-fic oh my!

As a black woman, I have the pleasure of writing in two marginalized kinds of speculative fiction: Christian spec-fic and Minority spec-fic.

These two kinds of fiction have many things in common:

1) Some folks assume christian fic and multiculti fic will be preachy.

2) Some folks assume they'll be badly written (because many of these writings are not published by large publishing companies.)

3) Some folks assume (rightly) these books will speak to areas in their own lives that OTHER books never speak about. (A black person reading an all-white Christian specfic book will feel the same kind of alienation a Christian reader will feel when the Christian reader reads a specfic book that avoids or insults Christians.)

4) Some Christian readers consider fantasy/imagination vaguely sinful. As do many black readers.

5) Both these two different types of spec-fic have to find common denominators among their readers. They don't want to splinter already splintered groups. Thus, at conventions, multicultural specfic writers often group themselves under one umbrella, despite race, religion, etc. In the same ways, Christian speculative fiction writers aren't going to get all worked up about denominational issues. At least not in public.

But Christian speculative fiction and Multicultural speculative fiction also have many things not in common.

The biggest difference is often in how white Christians and black Christians see the Bible, Eden, Paradise, and each other.

For instance,

The white Christian speculative writer often creates fiction devoid of black folks or other minorities. It's as if a great disaster occurred on earth and all the black folks and minorities in the world were deemed unsalvageable. Or, if a minority shows up in a Christian story, he or she is the odd escaped slave, drug addict, black secretary, or token. In addition all discussion of racism is generally avoided

White Christian speculative fiction is also very imitative of Tolkein, C S Lewis. Although Christianity is primarily a non-european and a non-white religion, many Christian writers write European-based --elves, dwarves, vampires, and the like-- spec fic that a non-white Christian has to pretty much put away much of her own culture in order to read.

For many white Christian writers --especially those who write slice-of-life fiction and romances-- there is a nostalgia for the rural world. Eden is kind of a home in Appalachia or on the frontiers, while the city represents Babylon. For Black or Native American Christians, the rural world is suspect. That's where we were hung..or are still being hung. That's where our people were maimed or lynched or cast out of their houses. For us, race is still very much alive. Many of us still remember uncles and grandfathers who were lynched by white townsfolk and aunts and mothers and grandmothers who were raped by white men.

Black speculative fiction writers, on the other hand, tend to lose white readers because we often have a "enemy of my enemy is my friend" mentality. We are often politically liberal in some things and spiritually conservative in others. Therefore it is not unusual for a black minority Christian writer --because for some reason we consider our white Christian brothers suspect-- and find herself aligned with gay writers, moslem writers, ultra-liberals, extreme feminists, and even wiccans. Sometimes we are so caught up with the bitterness we have suffered because of white racists, an innocent white reader has a tough time getting through a story.

The white Christian writer has to find a way to write fiction which doesn't seem as if he thinks his race is the only --and the greatest-- race. And minority Christians have to be careful lest racial bitterness overwhelms our pages.

As a black woman it wasn't easy for me to find this balance when I write a Christian story.

It isn’t easy walking through the world where people think you’re always ready to jump down some “innocent” white person’s throat. When I think of all the times I never complained because I feared some white person would think I was a touchy black woman!

It isn’t easy walking into a store and having the cashier follow you around suspecting you of wanting to steal something. Certainly more black women have grinned and borne it than have snapped, “Why the heck are you following me around?” I tell you… we black women are generally beacons of patience and forbearance.

It isn’t easy walking through a world where people assume you lack the great noble European trait of discipline. I went to a local gourmet supermarket run by a woman from Spain. I told her everything I wanted. She snapped, “I’m really busy. Do you really want to eat all that?” Why it didn’t occur to her that I was buying tons of food for a potluck dinner (’cause I didn’t want to cook) is beyond me. I’m sure she would’ve made kinder less judgmental assumptions about a white woman. And hey, although I was taken aback, I didn’t snap at her. But I didn’t explain myself either…I just kinda cowered shamefacedly and walked away feeling hurt.

It isn’t easy walking through a world where if you disagree with an editor, you are assumed to be touchy because well….”black women are touchy.”

It isn’t easy walking through the world when people – sometimes American but often folks newly arrived from the Old Country– —equate blackness with dirtiness. A Polish acquaintance of mine had a mother who actually believed blacks were dirty because they didn’t clean themselves and the dirt had stuck to their skin. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in public malls and movie theaters where I see a Hispanic person avoid an open bathroom stall because a black person has exited it. Sounds old-fashioned, I know. But remember, much of the rest of the world doesn’t go around teaching racial enlightenment.

It amazes me to think that most of the black Women I know are gentle souls saying prayers for sick friends and generally doing good stuff in the world and yet, the world insists on thinking we’re angry people. And it amazes me that when we DO become angry they belittle our racial pain by saying we are “always getting angry.” Come now, we don’t!

So as a black woman Christian writer I have to be very careful. I think I managed to make my novel, Wind Follower, honest to my Christian principles...and also honest to my race. There were moments of great temptation, though, I'll admit. There were times when racial bitterness might have entered the book, or the need to appear as a "sweet Christian woman who is above racial issues." But I wouldn't have been true to myself if I had not rightly divided my particular word of truth.

I trust that God has helped me to write a balanced book. Now that I am working on a novel that takes place in contemporary reality, I suspect the same temptations will arise. Again, I trust God will help me walk the fine line.

As Christian writers of all races, we must be careful that our stories don't become mutually exclusive. After all, we need to build our audience. But even more we need to understand each other's paths.

Dear Father, you have created one family out of many tribes. Bring unity, understanding, and love to your people. Help us to write stories that include all of your peoples, all our Christian brothers and sisters across the world. Help us to love each other as you have loved us. I ask all this in Jesus name, Amen.

-Carole McDonnell

wind follower

wind follower