*A new anthology, ‘Talking Back: Voices of Color‘ (Red Letter Press, 2015), presents an unusually diverse group of writers speaking out on issues affecting communities of color.
Contributors share tales of survival, explore little-known history, and offer insightful cultural reviews. Nellie Wong, a widely published Bay Area poet and social justice activist, is the book’s editor and author of the introduction, a striking meditation on the importance of “talking back” in asserting identity and power on an individual and collective level.
Like Wong, the book’s contributors are involved in community organizing. Based in a number of locations, their identities include Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific American, indigenous North American and Aboriginal Australian, Palestinian, immigrant, feminist, youth, elder, LGBTQ, students, unionists, former prisoners, and more. Their aim is to communicate and mobilize. Speaking from and to the grassroots, their offerings are readable, persuasive, free from academic jargon, and rich with personal experience.
Black readers will find themselves represented in a number of articles. Duciana Thomas recounts her participation in the fight to preserve working-class education.
School teacher Lillian Thompson shows how charter schools perpetuate inequality. Mark Cook, a political prisoner for 24 years, describes the slave-labor conditions in U.S. prisons.
Black Panther leader Eddie Conway speaks out in a prison interview. John Hatchett tells how he, as a faculty advisor, helped female students at Bennett College plan the historic Greensboro sit-ins. Sarah Scott reviews the novel “We Need New Names,” dealing with the experience of African immigrants.
Ralph Poynter describes how his wife, attorney Lynne Stewart, became a political prisoner and calls for the release of all political prisoners. Nellie Wong pays tribute to radical Black, gay poet Langston Hughes. Norma Abdulah, a 90-something radical Black activist and Harlem resident, tells her story.
Other highlights include: Nancy Reiko Kato’s discussion of the contributions of women of color to the movement for reproductive rights; aboriginal leader Lex Wotton’s discussion of racism and police violence in Australia; Palestinian exile Farouk Abdel-Muhti’s harrowing description of being held in U.S. prisons without charges for nearly two years following 9/11; Miriam Padilla’s account of her evolution from an impoverished “graffiti girl” to single mother, college student and political organizer.
African American scholar, unionist, and former civil rights organizer James Wright calls the book “a treasure” by a “rainbow of radical authors.” Alice Goff, a Black immigrant labor leader and community activist, predicts that even readers who don’t share the opinions of the authors may “come away with a different perspective and possibly be moved to question the status quo.”
Another reviewer, Arab American artist and writer Happy Hyder, says the book’s “fearless and varied voices” reveal “the true meaning of political action.” Sociologist Dr. Jesse Díaz, Jr. says the book will lead to increased understanding of the activist of color’s “toils for equality and justice.” Karin Aguilar-San Juan, an associate professor and Filipina American lesbian, describes the writings as resonant with “pain and rage… light and power and hope.”
Well-attended book launches for “Talking Back: Voices of Color” were held during the first weeks of May in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Melbourne, Australia.
“Talking Back: Voices of Color” is available from RedLetterPress.org, Amazon.com, Powells.com, Google Books, Barnes and Noble and other booksellers in both paperback and ebook editions.
“Talking Back: Voices of Color”
Edited and with an introduction by Nellie Wong
Red Letter Press, 2015
$15.00, 240 pages, paperback, 5.5″ x 8.5″, index
Print version: ISBN 978-0-932323-32-3
Ebook: ISBN 978-0-932323-33-0
Red letter Press