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Why is it so important to so many white artists that they maintain the right to be offensive to people disempowered relative to them?

By Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein  Novelist and commentator Kaitlyn Greenidge made a powerful argument in the New York Times last year that we don’t have to write what we know, but we do have to accept that if we are going to write what we don’t know, rather than have a temper tantrum when we receive criticism, we need to listen and then try to write better. Nothing reveals white anxiety more than someone complaining that they don’t feel free to upset people of color, and fearful rants against people of color in academic and literary contexts such as Francine Prose’s recent New York Review of Books anti-sensitivity screed are tiring and sad. They are a painful reminder that straight white cis voices continue to reign supreme in the literary discourse and that this dominance functions to silence marginalized people in multiple ways. The political priorities of straight white cis people are elevated above everyone else’s and questions of style and taste are addressed almost entirely in the context of how the conversation makes straight, white cis people feel. I know the easiest retort is that this is about freedom of speech. Yet as a staunch believer in the First Amendment (which we must constantly remind people is only about government censorship), I’m far less concerned about the imaginary legal issues here than about the very real impact of protecting writing that is racist in its mediocrity. Why is it so important to so many white artists that they maintain the right to be offensive to people disempowered relative to them? In the Trump era, what does it mean for literary leaders to worry about protecting these rights? As a queer Black femme and Editor in Chief of a literary publication with a mostly queer/trans person of color staff, The Offing, I struggled in the days after Trump became President-elect to put forward a professional face to the staff, even though I had spent most of election day in tears. I had not been excited about Hillary Clinton, yet the first round of tears came at 6:30 AM -- I had not been confident she had the election in the bag against an opponent far more terrifying yet bizarrely more savvy. Should we close shop, I asked? Resoundingly our editors said no. Publications that fearlessly seek out the best writing by marginalized writers and established writers trying their hand in new forms were needed in that moment more than ever. It was essential that our platform not disappear but rather continue and flourish.
Related: BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION BROUGHT OUT MY MOST MAGICAL SELF

Nicki Minaj has participated in the continuation of the hypersexualization and erasure of Native women in our culture via lateral oppression.

By Arielle Gray [TW- discussion and mention of sexual assault against indigenous women.] Nicki Minaj proverbially broke the internet with the new cover of PAPER Magazine that dropped last week. The cover shows three versions of Nicki, one on her knees in front of another version sitting down whose breast is being touched by the third version. The cover is highly sexual but in a good way — the "Minaj à Trois" was not only a clever ode to her alter egos but a testament to sexual autonomy and queerness. It didn’t take Instagram artists long to begin re-creating different versions of the PAPER cover. Most recently, she posted a reworked version called, “Pocahontas A Trois” on her Instagram page. “Which one should I get hung up in my Barbie Bedroom?" she asks her users in the post. "I'm torn between the bad bunnies...and Pocahontas." https://www.instagram.com/p/BbnIKl2BBps/?hl=en&taken-by=nickiminaj Before we begin the breakdown of why Nicki’s post (and her negligence to take it down) is so problematic, let’s get one fact straight: a large number of people labor under the delusion that Pocahontas was not a real person, and that Disney created the princess and her story. The reality is that Pocahontas was very much real, and was an underage girl who was forcibly married, raped, had her Native name changed to the more English “Rebecca” and on top of all of that, she was shipped off to England where she fell sick and died at the premature age of 21. The saddest thing about Pocahontas’ story is that what she experienced is neither uncommon or rare. Her life is a historical testament to the power of racial misogyny and the erasure of indigenous women and their stories from history. Reworked into a Disney movie, her suffering (and the suffering of other indigenous women) was erased as well. Disney's Pocahontas has served as a festishized, colonized and stereotypical trope for Native women, reinforcing the systems that are already at work against them. As it stands today, ⅓ of Native women will be raped at some point in their lifetimes — this number is twice the national average. Furthermore, over 80% of rape cases are committed by Non- Native men, the majority of whom are white men. Federal loopholes allow non-Native rapists to get off scott free — tribal courts do not have the federal power to persecute non Tribal members when it comes to sexual violence and rape. This gap in the law perpetuates the predation of an already underrepresented, under protected minority group.
Related: NON-NATIVES ARE USING THIS TRIBAL LAW LOOPHOLE TO RAPE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Puerto Rico is without resources. Meanwhile its colonial government plays golf.

By Holly  Peoples with enduring colonial histories are time and again marginalized and disadvantaged. Meanwhile colonizers continue to profit off of our lives and our land. And in the age of widespread pollution, ecological devastation, and climate change, it is we the colonized who always pay the price. At the intersection of colonialism, corporatocratic economy, and climate, these systems manifest with real and significant consequences on the lived experiences of colonized peoples. In the last few months alone, natural disasters hit, particularly in places with colonial histories. Efforts have rallied behind some of those affected, such as for Hurricane Harvey for example which had not one, but two benefit performances were held. On the other hand, other aid efforts are noticeably slower or more silent. Because of this, many attempt to amplify awareness of less-spotlighted natural disasters. However in the race to focus disasters in non-Western nations, a perilous trend emerges. There is a striking pattern in the media of calling help for disasters by framing affected Indigenous and colonized peoples as Western nationalities. Seemingly every online post for donations asks aid for the people of Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands because they are “American”. And while intentions behind this may be benign, the impact is anything but. This narrative is dangerous in predicating the value of human life on the fact that life is Western — as though we could not care to help Virgin Islanders as Afro-Caribbean people or Puerto Ricans as Boricuas. This framing also erases the colonial history of these lands and peoples, stripping context and culpability of the very imperialist expansion that plays a direct and serious role in climate and environment.
Related: HOW ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM AFFECTS INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN THE USA

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