Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Writing While Marginalized - Pt. 7

How do other folks who are members of historically marginalized groups, and who write about race and gender and sexuality, wrestle with writing for mainstream spaces? Do they? Should we? Are there topics writers will not or should not discuss outside of a "safe space"? Are there story ideas writers reserve for "of color" or GLBT spaces?

I asked some smart, writerly, social justice-minded folks to weigh in. Today, this series ends with Nadra Kareem Nittle.


I write for a number of different websites and definitely feel hesitant to broach the topic of race in some instances. While race is not a taboo subject for any site I write for, I do have to address the topic differently depending on my audience.

On one site, I spend a lot of time educating readers about race and related terms such as colorism, othering and marginalization. Some of my readers don’t have the vocabulary to engage in an in-depth discussion about race. Other readers are simply hostile to the idea that institutionalized racism remains a problem for people of color in the 21st century. For these readers, I write pieces akin to a persuasive essay in a college composition class. I have to back up every point I make, lest someone accuse me of exaggerating the racial predicament marginalized groups find themselves in today. Given the extreme resistance I’ve encountered trying to complicate conversations of race on some sites, I firmly believe that it may not be appropriate to broach sensitive topics on sites where readership consists mostly of people who’ve read little about race and view racism as a thing of the past.

Similarly, some sites do not feel like safe spaces to share my personal experiences with race and racism. I feel more comfortable discussing how race has shaped my life in particular on sites where readers have demonstrated their investment in eradicating racism and its effects.

Pt. 1  Latoya Peterson of Racialicious

Pt. 2 Sparky of Spark in Darkness

Pt. 3  New Black Woman

Pt. 4  Prof. Christopher MacDonald Dennis 

Pt. 5 Jennifer or Mixed Race America

Pt. 6 Andrea Plaid of Racialicious


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