The Case For Supporting [Adjective] Authors*

Union Station, Washington DC, circa 2004
Americanism requires my artistry to match my organic matter.

 

I was raised an American.

I physically developed, formulated a personality, practiced social graces, and made friends living abroad, almost entirely outside of the United States of America.

Beyond America, as an American, no one gave a shit if your father was this race, your mother was that ethnicity, and certainly, without a hometown to tout, nobody cared which city/town/state in America your people came from. The determinant of a shared drink at the bierstübe or an all-out beat down was simple: conciliatory manners, meaning, demonstrating respect towards the culture one is ensconced in, for the sake of peace. This is how I came to understand “relationship building.”

Thus, my confusion when I arrived on these shores to find the Americans acting rather…feral…towards each other. As soon as I smiled hello, the marginalization began: What are you? What are your parents? Where do they come from? What neighborhood do you live in? Marginalizing box after box after box instead of just a, ‘nice to meet you’ in response. I thought it was a phase, but, twenty-three years later, that fervent need to make a person fit in a narrow-minded box is still definitive Americana.

Artistically, my race/sex/ethnicity/nationality/sexuality/etc does not matter. I have voiced men, I have voiced South Asians, I have voiced transsexuals through my artistry. It’s because I allow myself to be infused by these cultures that these stories and poems manifest, and manifest with respect to the attributes of the culture.

As an independent author, I had to manage my own marketing, so I tried assimilating into the literary world fold without utilizing Americanism, because it belittles me. If I’m only an [adjective] author, then I’m saying my art is only valuable to [adjective] people, which would be me belittling my target audience, the global community!

The last two months During the summer of 2014, I did decent with general sales but abysmal in representing my work without getting forced into a social cubby-hole. I incurred derogatory statements regarding my sex, my race, my ethnicity, and those statements then erroneously defined the quality of my novel.

While I try to respect the perspective of those who protect their “-ness,” I won’t allow my principles to be subjugated to the -ness. Does that make sense? That’s not my crutch; that’s that person’s crutch, and I needn’t lean on it. Here’s a sample of that:

There was an opportunity for I Blew Up Juarez to be featured in one of Tampa Bay’s [adjective] bookstores. This [adjective] bookstore, according to its owner, is the signature bookstore for the area’s [adjective] community. As well, the owner was a contributing committee member for a major area festival celebrating the [adjective] community, and she was THE person to talk to in order to be a featured artist in that festival. Struck gold, right?

The bookstore owner felt her endorsement of my work would be integral to achieving success in the Greater Tampa Bay reading community. It was here in the conversation I started to experience trepidation, as I observed her mentally pushing four boards together around me in the middle of her shop.

A bystander to our conversation felt compelled to declare, “We need to support all [adjective] authors!” He nodded heavily, proud of this statement. He supplemented his declaration by talking about inspiring the future generation of [adjectives], and the struggles of being [adjective].

Very rah-rah-rah this guy! I saw an opportunity and replied, “Thank you for that! I have copies in my car, would you like to purchase one?”

He blinked at me.

He looked at the bookstore owner.

The bookstore owner burned eyes into him.

He looked back to me and declared, “I wasn’t going to buy a book today.”

I retrieved my review copy of I Blew Up Juarez from her weeks later, as it became more evident her intentions were to puppet my [adjective] self, not my artist self. Even if she was a fellow [adjective] person in the literary community, she behaved like a complete asshole.

Unfortunately, it is socially expected to accept marginalization and profitable to -ness it up.

It’s disparaging, but…I suppose I’m the only one who sees it that way.

*: original post 06.24.2014 – edited content and toned down cynicism

Ayudame, Maria!

Laughter keeps the murder away.
Laughter keeps the murder away.

I’m so mad right now. Not angry with a someone, I’m angry with an institution, an administration. I’m mad because I followed the bazillion rules they have in order to qualify my disability, and then they turn around and COMPLETELY disregard what they were supposed to honor.

You should know better you silly bitch! No one is looking out for you!

Oh I get it now. The abject discrimination is too much. Lemme have my half my face blown off, okay, we get it, pass on through. But have a debilitating disorder that takes over even the simplest aspects of your life? You need to fill out three hours’ worth of forms, and oh, by the way, we’re gonna go ahead and revoke your benefits before you sign the final page.

No review board. No honoring of appeals. Just….doors slammed shut. Phone calls not returned. Our official decision is…we don’t acknowledge you.

I can’t deal with this. A raw nerve I am, every little nip, quip, snip sets me off. I’m not experiencing despair, just raw, unfiltered…RAGE. I want to talk to someone about it, it’d be REALLY nice if I had a reliable go-to, but instead I have the holier-than-thou people, the ones who tell me they get what I’m going through but have never actually experienced what I’m going through, then follow with a condescending, “you need to get it together. Don’t take things so seriously.” Yeah, you know all about that.

Before I tear open the Feeling Homicidal Emergency Phone Directory, I’m gonna re-watch Maria Bamford’s latest stand up on Netflix, The Special Special Special! because she does deliver an EXCELLENT presentation on the rampant hypocrisy towards the mentally disabled.

If, after watching this, I can’t fight off the rage, I’ll initiate the phone chain.

Help me out, Maria…