Sunday, October 07, 2007

The venerable Samiya Bashir, Sharon Bridgforth and me.
Photo courtesy of Sharon Bridgforth.

Well, so much, so much.

Today, Sharon Bridgforth, Samiya Bashir and I read at BookWoman here in Austin. How incredible to be in the company of these women, and under the umbrella of Lisa C. Moore's vision. Wow. Sharon read from The Bulljean Stories, and moved us and had us laughing all at once. Samiya read some new poems and from Where the Apple Falls. And I read one excerpt from Erzulie's Skirt and other excerpts from my as of yet unpublished novel "Anacaona's Daughter". The vibe was incredible. And an awesome turnout.

It also followed on the heals of a beautiful get-together last night, hosted by us here in Austin to welcome the amazing folks who've come to town. Wura-Natasha Ogunji showed her new performance videos, including "Belongings". And Amanda Johnston shared the developments of a twisted experience of racial discrimination at Borders boosktore here in Austin on Friday September 28th, 2007. The ensuing actions and reactions are astounding. As I told her:

Your story last night shook everyone, long after you and Fabian and your cousin had parted from our home. In sharing the full extent of your experience, I am humbled and deeply angered. I am humbled by the full extent of your vision, and by your commitment to a strategy that addresses the different elements of how discrimination affects us as people of color. This week of on-going, open and transparent communication is really deep to me. The Borders leadership should be honored that you have engaged them in this dialogue.

I am deeply angered because bookstores such as Borders have really caused a shift in the landscape of bookstores and the relationship that we as authors have to bookstores: the small bookstores that have historically been so critical to the development of community around writings by people of color, women, etc and have enabled us to continue doing the work, have economically suffered because of chains such as Borders. Which only adds insult to injury, when we go in to buy books, and are reminded of the depth of our losses.

I will be posting a link to your blog on my blog. Out of respect for you and for my friends who staff Borders stores throughout the country, I will also be contacting them to discuss this experience, and to hold critical dialogue around how to not have it happen where they are.

Much love,


What's sad to me is that I continued to be surprised when these things happen. And that I don't. Ya know?

In any case, the reading today was a good, heartening reminder of things that are right in the world. Things that we can work towards and be committed to as artists.

Peace, Love.

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