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Rebecca Walker Blog

Richard Pryor: 40th President of The United States

July 31st, 2009

Writing in Paradise

Hey people!

The last workshop was AMAZING. Students beautiful, Banyan house beautiful, all of it, just gorgeous. A dream.

New writers, come to Maui!

Five spots left for December 13-20.

Come write your heart out...and then go wade in the ocean blue.

Register. 

xo

July 28th, 2009

Leaves of Grass

But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face; 

It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists;    

It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees—dress does not hide him;

The strong, sweet, supple quality he has, strikes through the cotton and flannel;  

To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more;    
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.   

July 28th, 2009

Marcus Aurelius

A limit of time is fixed for thee, which if thou dost not use for clearing the clouds from thy mind, it will go and thou wilt go, and it will never return.
July 26th, 2009

Flower. Power.

July 25th, 2009

On the arrest of Henry Louis Gates...

Shared these thoughts and a few more with a reporter from CNN a few moments ago:

The arrest of Henry Louis Gates sends a chilling message to the scholars, writers, activists, and artists who work so hard to keep a free flow of information. It seems eerily ironic Mr. Gates was returning from China, where surveillance is so high and freedom of speech and ideas so curtailed. To see the "mugshot" of Skip was a blow to all of us who feel some sense of safety based on our work to try to mend all of these broken fences in America--to make ourselves into people who refuse to be limited by race and class and gender and everything else. We do this work every day, and it is work, just like any other. To end up, at the end of the day, treated like a criminal, unjustly stripped of our accomplishments and contributions even if only for a moment, is profoundly disturbing. We must ask ourselves what it means, and to allow ourselves to face various scenarios regarding power and freedom and how these will intersect in the coming years.

Read the article. 

 

July 21st, 2009

Today Show

July 12th, 2009

Me on Michael Jackson, from The Root

July 7th, 2009

Anna Wintour: The September Issue

July 6th, 2009

Before Hip-Hop Was Hip-Hop

I keep coming across old essays I wrote that seem to have disappeared off the face of the planet--this one was for a high-school textbook. Glad to see it's holding its own.

Tell me what you think:

BEFORE HIP-HOP WAS HIP-HOP
by Rebecca Walker
© Prentice Hall Literature Textbook

If you ask most kids today about hip-hop, they’ll spit out the names of recording artists they see on TV: Eminem, P. Diddy, J. L o, Beyonce. They’ll tell you about the songs they like and the clothes they want to buy. They’ll tell you about the indisputable zones of hip-hop like “EO” (East Orange, New Jersey), the “ATL” (Atlanta, Georgia), and the “West Side” (Los Angeles, California), neighborhoods they feel they know because they’ve seen them in all the glossiest, “flossiest” music videos. Hip-hop is natural to these kids, like air or water, just there, a part of the digital landscape that streams through their lives.

I watch this cultural sea change with fascination. It astounds me that hip-hop has grown into a global industry, a force that dominates youth culture from Paris to Prague, Tokyo to Timbuktu. I can’t believe that in small, all-white towns like Lincoln, Nebraska, high school boys wear their clothes in the latest “steelo”: pants sagging off their waists, sports jerseys hanging to their knees, baseball hats cocked to one side. Even in the pueblos of Mexico, where mariachi bands and old school crooners still rule, it is hip-hop that sells cars, sodas, and children’s toys on TV.

The vast empire of hip-hop amazes me because I knew hip-hop before it was hip-hop. I was there when it all began.

More
July 5th, 2009

Michael Jackson: What About Him?

I remember meeting him, and how lonely he seemed. And shy. And fragile. I'm not sure there is much to say. I've been playing his music, and reflecting on the price of fame and celebrity. The way public people often mask a horrific private reality. The toll of it all. The way we consume the gifted ones, exalt them, imprison them. Why I think Angelina and Brad take the kids to Kmart. If they don't try to live outside of it, they will grow up trapped in the gilded cage.

Of course, "Rock with You" provided the soundtrack for my first kiss, alongside all the other MJ moments. But the cost! I could have lived without the songs. I think Michael could have, too. 

When I listen to this song, to the refrain, What about us? I have to ask the question--What about him? 

July 2nd, 2009

I'd pick it up.

So of course I'm always looking at books. The copy on the jacket, the blurbs, trim-size, and overall design. Though I'm not completely sold on the color combo, I'd definitely pick this one up.

Would you?

June 29th, 2009

Writing in Paradise

Happy Sunday!

Last week's workshop was AMAZING. Students beautiful, Banyan house beautiful, all of it, just gorgeous. A dream.

Thank you writers, for your trust and hard work.

Resting a bit, and then...getting ready for the second of three Maui workshops.

SIx spots left for August 15-22.

Come write your heart out...and then go wade in the ocean blue.

Register. 

xo

June 22nd, 2009

Yes, in fact, I do blame (F)eminism

So there seems to be outpouring of excitement about the Katie Roiphe piece on Double XX on motherhood as a narcotic. 

What frustrates about this "excitement" on Salon and all the other more "mainstream" blogs, is the way editors and many readers ignore the work of women outside of their "milieu" be they poor, black, Asian-American, gay, male, community-college educated or otherwise.

My book Baby Love, for example, is also about the subject of feminism and motherhood and making a surprising and seemingly "anti-feminist" choice, and yet received none of the nuanced treatment. In fact, Salon used my piece on this exact subject to excoriate me personally, running an ill-informed post by Phyllis Chesler in which I was labeled misguided, confused, and in the throes of some kind of misplaced mother-daughter drama. My work was dismissed as personal pathology.

Which brings us to Katie Roiphe. Good gracious, she and I hashed it out on Charlie Rose ten years ago. Her intellect is no more superior, her writing no more "eloquent," but her privilege is, truly, many more generations deep, and certain editors apparently believe she has much more in common with their readers--an unfair assessment.

The entire episode reminds me of one of the more insightful things my mother told me (and regardless of the current state of our relationship, my mother has told me MANY insightful things):

"We read them, but really, they do not read us."

Meaning, of course, that many white women of privilege and access think what they write is new because they don't really bother to read the work of women (and men) outside of their race and/or class. And yet we think nothing of reading theirs and weighing their contributions as part of our process of informing ourselves as we begin to do our own work.

And, really, truly, the bottom line? I blame it on (F)eminism. Why is it that women of privilege are able to do this with impunity in the name of (F)eminism?

Because this kind of racial and economic apartheid is built into contemporary, especially Second Wave, (F)eminism. This latest exchange of pseudo-philosophical banter is just one more line item on an exhaustive list of betrayals, insults, and selective dismissals of the work of many self-identified feminists and others who have long ago abandoned their affiliation.

This remains a breathtakingly short-sighted method of engagement. 

June 1st, 2009

Charles and Ray Eames debut their lounge chair, on NBC

Inspired to look for some video on these two after a meeting in the Time Life building yesterday. Mid-century modern is a little later than Time Life, but still...

Love the note about the successful man and woman "helper." And then Ray's smart responses. 



Arlene Francis is classic.
May 29th, 2009