One of my students is asking who has access to the poets and poems we are privileged to be reading and discussing in our Poets of Color class. This question, and many other excellent questions she asks are an extension of the questions Meta DuEwa Jones asks in her “Descent and Transcendence…” essay.
So, first, back to my question in yesterday’s blog post about how we as educators perpetuate the racial profiling of “WWB,” “writing while black,” “writing while brown.” I remember being asked by a student at USF during last semester’s Asian American Women Authors event, how to cope, how to handle ourselves when we are the minority in an English Lit classroom, being presented the one or two token writings by someone of color. When, in this situation, we students of color are called upon to be the authority on writers of color and their “ethnic” content. I told this student that the very premise of a class like that is faulty. When studying “American Literature,” why only one or two writers of color? Why only Li-Young Lee or whoever is the go to Asian American author? American Literature is truly much more diverse than a solitary token writer or two, and a curriculum should represent this diversity — ethnic, aesthetic, formalistic, etc.
So then I see how in any college or university, a Writers of Color course in an English Department is meant to correct the imbalance and under-representation, but then again, let’s think about how this is a flawed premise. This tells me that decision makers don’t think there is anything necessitating change with the individual classes within the existing department curriculum.