This Is How You Lose Her
I was looking for a picture of one of my heroines, Toni Morrison. At the moment it’s Toni and Jamaica Kincaid. They have this voodoo nexus that really impresses me. In their stories, they talk about a future that is revealed sometimes in the past.
That voodoo vibe is really not that unique to writers or artists or to brilliant black women writers. But one seldom knows. Recognizable brilliant Black women are a small group not represented in the arts.
Somehow, I landed on a New Yorker page. The article was called: MFA vs. POC by Junot Diaz.
I recognize the last name Diaz, but Junot was new to me. I try to figure out the correlation with these somewhat familiar letters, and I hopes it wasn’t about some pseudo-intellectual racist shit like Charles Murray’s “Bell Curve.”
MFA vs. POC
And MFA vs. POC was about race but in a different way. Junot was coming to the defense and to the lack of representation of our black and I guess in Junot’s case, Latino culture. And to some folks who want to keep their social status, he was coming to the defense of Niggers. This social status thing is very important. It governs your income and that is pretty much the American way—the access to income.
But back to Junot, I was so conceited, I send him a letter: telling him how much I enjoyed his essay as if he needed my encouragement. And it really is superb. Junot had me looking up words that were fun to learn, scholarly word next to the regular English—shit! I especially I like “…me and some of the other Calibans.” And sentences like —“I could write folio, octavo and duodecimo on its terrible whiteness.”
I’ll get back to Junot later.
Roxane Gay, in her usual follow-true, express her comments like a young Mike Tyson throwing combinations, blew this off the pages. She said:
“I have been conflicted about this book because I loved these stories, the richness of the details, the voice, the way the stories pulled the reader from beginning to end. These are stories with gravity. They hold the reader in place.”
I had to read what she said several times as if she was not telling the truth. This dude wrote about what? The Dominicanos and their relationship with their women, Is he dumb!
This I had to read.
Okay, we didn’t work, and all
memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep
beside me and never dreamed afraid.
There should be stars for great wars
And from the opening poem by Sandra Cisneros to the end, Junot kills it. Junot is a badass fucking good writer.
I wanted to call all the Dominicans I know to tell them to read this book, mainly so they can brag—as if they needed a reason—about a great talent from the DR besides béisbol Y merengue.
This is a story about Yunior, a “typical Dominican guy, although not one I recognized. But Junot Diaz fills his story with Dominican and Latino anecdotes that I did recognize. And the language that is germane to the Dominican’s way of speaking Spanish. Which is as unique as the dialogue of Jamaican Patois.
Many critics point out that Yunior behavior is not that different than any other cad, no matter what country he came from. And Yuniors’, his journey from cad to a pseudo-feminist is nothing new. Is what cads do to get the ladies. And I tend to agree.
But Junot did more than just bringing a Dominicano sinvergüenza to the literature. He broth a whole culture to literature. He brought a fundamental experience of a person of color—that in other words includes me. A culture that is not present, a new voice like hip-hop. Unlike hip-hop, Junot Diaz blends the culture of Latino and Blacks in ways that are not so easily unraveled or co-opted by the larger culture.
Junot is kicking the ass out of the perception of what it is to be American. And Yunior is American. Junot Diaz blends his stories seamlessly with the popular culture in ways that they find it somewhat difficult to negate. Junot Diaz is well versed in white people talk, not just the accent of white folks we black folks use in ‘job interview’, as Dave Chappelle would say. But Junot is in there. He is asserting his humanity in language and color the dominant culture knows’— because we all know that dominant culture is too white and not about me. The Calibans are revolting again.