Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Roxane Gay

The other night I had the great pleasure of seeing Roxane Gay speak at City Arts and Lectures. And she was just amazing. The power with which she faces head-on the dreadful toxicity of our world, while at the same time making a passionate clear-eyed case for the need to cultivate joy, is beyond inspiring.

In the absence of a transcript (god, I wish there was one, I would quote from it for days!) may I recommend the full text of her recent speech at the American Bookseller's Association's Winter Institute which includes the following highlights:

"The word diversity is, in its most imprecise uses, a placeholder for issues of inclusion, recruitment, retention and representation. Diversity is a problem, seemingly without solutions. We talk about it and talk about it and talk about it and nothing much ever seems to change....

I am done having the same conversations over and over while very little changes. People don’t really want to hear about diversity and inclusion. They don’t want to do what it takes—the investment of actual money, for a sustained period of time, to change the make-up of this industry....

I am not going to give you the answers you seek or provide absolution or do the work that you are eminently capable of doing. You’re smart, passionate book people. You can forego the distance of needing to be taught what you can learn through trial and error. You can figure out how to be more inclusive in all ways. You can get political. You can get uncomfortable. You can remember that you are not just selling books. You are providing sanctuary. You are the stewards of sacred spaces. Rise to the occasion. Rise."

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