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Why There Are No Black Writers At Radical Second Things

I have a confession to make.

I grew up in and around black culture. My aunt Frenchie, who is black, was sure closer to me than any of my sisters. I worked at a hip hop magazine - Seaspot. Hip-hop and R&B was really all I listened to for years. Yet, slowly and gradually, I have detached almost completely from that culture.

I haven't had a really horrible experience - not anything I didn't get from any other group of people. I just slowly have disengaged because it felt like there wasn't anything in black culture for me to learn from and very few in the culture willing to learn.

Black culture is extremely myopic. While it's common for Hispanic groups to show solidarity with black political groups in times of controversy, it's rare to hear the opposite. While blacks have offered several leaders who preached universalism - Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama - both in the intellectual world and in normal life, it seems as if a huge social wall exists with black people that I don't have with anyone else. As a culture, African American culture has little interest in experiences outside of it.

The myopic nature of African Americans has nothing to do with race. Africa has actually coddled and held secure several groups that had a very rough time elsewhere - for example, there is an ancient Jewish community in Ethiopia that never experienced anything like what occurred in Europe. Myopia in African American circles is just an extreme version of overall American ignorance.

A great deal of this is not the African American community's fault. The United States is an extremely ignorant country. As one friend from India prepared for a trip to the States to study at Columbia, I told him to get prepared for a level of flat out ignorance that, coming from a country with thousands of years of history, he will have never seen anything like.

Most blacks in the U.S. are not African immigrants and instead grew up segregated within an already ignorant environment. Most are used to deflecting against soft (and sometimes hard) prejudice nearly every day and so instantly react to a disagreement from someone outside their group as racism. To be blunt, I think a discussion about ideas, necessary to any sort of publishing, would be damn near impossible in a way I wouldn't worry about with anyone else.

That doesn't make it any easier, even if there is a reasoning. I would love to have African American writers at Radical Second Things - most of the writers and contributors I've had here or on the Facebook page are people of color. If I did, however, experience tells me that there would be a huge social elephant in the room that I simply wouldn't have with most other contributors. I would want contributions that would juxtapose the continuing disgraceful treatment of blacks in the United States with those who are killed in terrorist attacks - instead of saying it's "white privilege" (because of course everyone killed in Brussels and Paris by jihadists was "white") to say "Je suis Charlie."

If there are any aspiring black writers who recognize that this dynamic may be a reality and want to work past it, I would love to. RST is growing in presence and if anyone is wondering why we have no black writers (we also have no "white" writers, at least not in the WASP sense), especially when the culture of the world's poor and brown is nearly the core of this site, that's why.

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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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