A note on language and diet culture

This is a follow-up to my post about Crystal Galindo and fat-posi/body posi art.

I just finished having a… conversation, or something seeking to mimic it, with a so-called holistic health strategist, Tonye Tariah.

Out of curiosity, I asked on her About page if her blog is a weight loss blog after she posted a link to it in a comment on my Galindo post, in which **Tonye Tariah said I should have a look at her blog and tell her what I think**.  I can’t stress that part enough. I read through some of her posts and found her language and attitude to be ambiguous at best. So I removed her comment because I couldn’t speak as to what her intentions are by replying to a fat posi post with a link to a health and fitness blog. And I didn’t want her promoting herself on my blog, if it was the case that her blog is a weight loss blog. I also recommended that she be careful about posting links to her blog on fat posi posts where they might not be welcomed for having words like “fitness and health” in the title. Fat women, especially ones who are body positive bloggers, know that people who use these words don’t always have the best intentions or, more important than intentions, the most innocent meaning in their word usage. Some people who have experienced abuse and fat-shaming know that the language around weight loss can be triggering. So I sought to investigate.

Tonye Tariah claims that her blog is not a weight loss blog but also said–

…it’s sad that you confused the notion of fitness, with advocating weight-loss

–Tonye Tariah

Again, I only asked if her blog is a weight loss blog and explained why I removed her comment from my blog. Why Tonye Tariah would respond by calling me “sad” and “confused” is a mystery. What did I say that caused her to treat me with anything less than dignity and respect? And this:

Its […] clear to me that you’re projecting some unresolved issues in the wrong direction (i.e. myself and any other individuals you’ve chosen to villify). Again, good luck to you and may you find the peace you both seek and need! [three smilies]

–Tonye Tariah

Instead of accepting my advice about how she posts comments and my opinion of her blog, she accused me of instigating conflict and essentially said I was attacking her for trying to do a nice thing. How my opinion of her blog and how I handled her comment on a post meant for body positive affirmation became all about her, I don’t know.
Tonye Tariah then deleted my question and responses and her more than condescending and dismissive replies I assume since they aren’t visible on her page. Hypocrites do have to cover their tracks after all. Unfortunately, Tonye Tariah is not the first person I’ve run into who thinks she’s enlightened and no one can tell her anything.

Just a heads-up to anybody else who is curious about this lady and her blog. Maybe you’ll find something helpful there but this was my experience with her and I think other Black women and fat women of Color should know. Her responses to me and her attitude certainly weren’t healthy.

The Art of Crystal Galindo

This is late, but I did go to Crystal Galindo’s art exhibit.

The air was like a relentless hot breath and there was no air conditioning in the building where the art was displayed. As I looked at the paintings, all I thought at first was that I don’t feel unapologetic as a Black women who isn’t skinny. Because its still true that some people’s body types are less ridiculed and abused than others. I have been made to apologize in one way or another for not being the “right size” my whole life. When I looked at Crystal’s work, all I could think about is the legion of women who love their bodies and how I haven’t always felt like that. How I live in a fat-shaming, fatphobic environment. I am unloved. I don’t feel unapologetic.

Yet what I believe hasn’t changed. I’m still the twelve year-old girl in the tie-dye shirt who has never been near skinny and has never been skinny since who firmly believes that I am utterly lovable and worthy and someone out there sees me and loves exactly as I am and that person or people are the only ones who are acceptable. So in a way, I might as well be unapologetic. And I’m 100% on board with this:

Though faced with adversity and harsh critique, Crystal used her numerous self-portraits, body type exploration and focus on the Chicana experience to create her own artistic language. Inspired by the lack of representation of women of color in the media, Crystal’s work spotlights Xicanas in a positive, realistic light. Her latest series, “Dulceria” (Candy Store) uses Mexican candy, sweets, and culturally specific snacks to encourage women and femmes of color to shed the guilt that exists in our community when we practice self-indulgence and independence.

 

–from CrystalGalindo.com

At the exhibit, I balked at the prices of the pieces on the walls; its not that they’re not worth it, its just that, well, never in my wildest dreams could I ever afford one to hang in my hovel. This kind of art, work, and spirit is important and I wanted to thank her for putting it into the world. I was disappointed that the artist wasn’t there. But my intention was to show my support and I tried to do that by showing up.

I should be able to afford one of her prints…

On Fanfiction (Fan Fiction)

Between anime and fiction novels of other authors and artists, I’ve started writing about four fan fictions. I like D. Gay-Man by Katsura Hoshino and the anime is the basis for my current longest fanfiction. I’ve had a lot of fun.

But I’m not sure how I feel about the genre.

Taking too much license with someone else’s work makes feel uncomfortable. Some authors and artists don’t approve of fanfiction based off their stuff. I know if I had a huge following where people wrote fanfiction based on my novels, there are things I’d draw the line at whether I had a say in what fanfic writers do or not. And if an artist asked me not to write fanfic based on their work, I would respect their wishes.

Spending a lot of time in my life trying to find value and meaning in what the mainstream publishing industry shoves under my nose has given me a taste for what I refer to as critfic: Fiction that is not necessarily fanfiction. Fiction that is written in order to talk back to another author’s work critically. (Of course for me to go out of my way to write a critfic on your book, there has to be something of value in it for me to get that worked up in first place.)

Maybe its just anime and Twilight, but I’ve seen some fans do some crazy and sometimes downright offensive stuff even with my limited exposure to the fanfic community. Sexualizing characters and situations that really shouldn’t be is at the top of my list.

And why write fanfiction based on somebody else’s work when you should be finishing your books? At least that’s what I ask myself often, especially when I start going down the critfic path over some novel and author that was ultimately offensively and infuriatingly disappointing. Yet another dilemma of the-writer-who-is-a-reader or the-reader-who-is-a-writer.

Just turning over some of my thoughts here. Personally, in fanfiction, I don’t like assuming too much about another writer’s work, like what their characters would or wouldn’t say. It feels too much like guessing the original author’s or artist’s intentions. I find ways to write around doing that as much as possible. I also tend to use my own original characters crafted for that author’s universe (and my own work) and write more about what I appreciate about that author’s work. Or what want to comment on from the other author’s work. Which reminds me how cool it would be to, maybe, co-author a book with another writer someday. That’s definitely a dream of mine. Its cool in my head at least.

Giving Up On Romance?

*Heavy sigh* Recently, (as I’m working, teaching as a volunteer, dealing with life in general, writing fan fiction and crit fiction, and continuing to attempt to finish novels like Oracle) I read about five romance stories available on Amazon for my Kindle. All of them were by white writers and half of them were historical romances. At the behest of my friend, I also started reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. But for right now I want to talk about the romances I read.

I’m glad I didn’t pay for four of them. The fact that four of them were offered for free has no reflection on their quality. The fault lies in the genre of romance and the publishing market itself.

Romance, as much as I love it, appears to be a pitiful genre. A pitiful genre fluffed with toxic disappointments and ignorant white fantasies. I mean, J.R. Ward pretty much destroyed my desire to read anything for almost ten years. That’s not an exaggeration. I literally never wanted to pick up another book again, especially not a romance. It wasn’t just because of what Ward chooses to write in her books (and what she actively chooses to exclude), its because I lost all faith her as a writer because of things she posted on her blog and her cloud of brainwashed flunky readers backing up her every word. I lost faith in all authors at that point. Even myself.

With the extreme deficit of general love in my life, I’m not sure my brain is wired to want literature devoid of that sweet pulsing vein of erotic, romantic passion. As long as writers are pandering to a specific pattern, a marketable trend, romance can never be what I need it to be. And I’ll never be satisfied with the way things are.

Faced with an impossible choice: Ween myself off romance and find something more fulfilling? Or have faith that underneath all the crap there’s a few shining jewels of romantic literature worth the time its taking to find them?

Where These Conversations Are

“Fiction by Black Writers: Who Are the Readers?” was held on February 21st by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Eventbrite publicizes the event as–

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead, Yaa Gyasi…some of today’s biggest names in fiction are black writers, and yet a predominantly white publishing industry maintains the assumption that black literature lacks marketability. Join writer and distinguished academic Dr. Elizabeth Nunez for a panel discussion challenging this assumption, with Essence Magazine book editor Patrik Henry Bass, Vice President, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of Random House’s One World Chris Jackson, President of the Authors’ Guild Roxana Robinson, and editorial director at Akashic Books Ibrahim Ahmad.

My friend sent me the Eventbrite link to check out some of the authors whose names got dropped in this description. After about a ten-year drought because I was sick to death of white-dominated narratives and formulaic genre crap getting shoved under my nose, I am ready to indulge my love of reading again and pick a new book and a new author to devote some of my time to. Preferably, a Black author who writes Black main characters that I haven’t yet discovered.

But when I clicked on the link in my friend’s e-mail and read the description, I was more interested in attending the even itself to hear to from the speakers. Black FICTION writers? BLACK? People actually talking about the predominantly white publishing industry (read: admitting that the publishing industry is predominantly white)? And likely talking about its assumption that Black fiction writers do not exist or “lack marketability”?

Awww shoot! DANG, I gotta hear this, is what I thought. Tell me the state of the things! For my own validation/affirmation as a Black writer if nothing else. More times than not, this truth about publishing and television is an unspoken truth. It just goes without saying to those People of Color who see it for what it is.

I really, really wanted to hear what other people have to say about this topic. But I’m not just broke, man. No matter how badly I wanted to fly across the country and attend this event, I couldn’t go on February 21st and I still can’t go even if they held the event in New York again.

My head isn’t filled with academic articles from credible sources and published intellectuals on what other people have to say about the topic of Black writers and their marketability (or lack thereof) to white publishers. Nor is my knowledge condensed into a perfectly pitch-able nonfiction volume you can pick up at the bookstore or sample from in your undergrad and masters courses. But I know what I observe when I watch television. What I see when I go into a store and look at their paperbacks. What I’ve read since I first discovered of my love of words and books. I know what I experienced as a little Black girl who grew up on welfare in the U.S. The situation surrounding the marketability and visibility of Black authors deeper than just the publishing industry. The problem is rooted in the core of what readers are exposed to, beginning arguably even as early as the womb. The problem lies in what readers choose to believe and the writers, histories, and narratives they choose to exclude from their bookshelves and consciousness.

As tired as I am of “politics” and navigating a STILL white-dominated media, I feel like conversations like “Fiction by Black Authors” put on by organizations like BSU and the Brooklyn Historical regarding Black and of Color authors specifically aren’t happening as often as they should. Maybe its because I now live in a near-dead, somewhat backwards city. Can’t really say for sure.

NaNoWriMo ’16–final day @ 68,362 words

I officially reached over 50,000 words on November 23rd and have continued writing. Since I finished on the same day last year, it seems that’s how long it takes me to write that much with everything else going on.

I have seen people’s avatars on the NaNo forums who reached 100,000 words before I even finished. -__- Sorrow and jealousy. But regardless, the goal I set for myself last year is 70,000 words. In a few hours, I will reach that goal.

Its been a challenge. There’s always some mess or other going on in the background and distracting me. The good news is I did it. The even better news is I only have about five major scenes left in Oracle before I’m finished writing the novel. (The first draft or whatever you prefer to call it.) This is the first time I’ve ever written a full-length novel in six months. The bad and good news is I’m not done yet and the story is getting too big and too long for my head so I’ve decided to write it in three books. Originally, I had intended for it to be a much shorter project than it is. I’ll let the muse continue to carry me until I reach the intended and anticipated end of Oracle.

I’m going to finish Nation Novel Writing Month 2016…then I’m going to take a long nap. *sigh*

Still alive

1

Hey, hey, hey there.

I didn’t “win” 1888’s 2016 Summer Writing Project, not at all unexpected, but I am still working to finish my novel, Oracle, serialized on Jukepop. Usually, I’d really be down about this kind of thing after putting myself out there but I’m managing the mantle of disappointment and suspicions of inferiority pretty well.

I appreciate the recognition of 1888, everyone who voted for me on Jukepop, and the grace of entering the Top 25 in the writing project. And believe me, I thirsted for the rewards and further recognition of winning this competition. I’m not sure how I should or should have used the opportunity so it’s now time to move on, I guess. Time to get back to the heart of this story…ME. Though I really wanted my novel to win, I started writing Oracle as a gift to myself for my birthday, to write a story I (in the precarious state of both reader and writer) want to read–not for a competition or for votes or to participate in the virtual Hunger Games that is literary/publishing world.

Oracle is going on its 37th and likely 38th chapter this week. I look forward to seeing its journey though.

There are so many stories yet trying to get out of my head. Because I feel it’s unwise to divide my energy and attention, I don’t usually work on more than one book or short story at a time. I’ll be an old lady before most of them get squeezed out. -__-