Broken Silences: Interviews with Black and White Women Writers

Broken Silences: Interviews with Black and White Women Writers

Broken Silences: Interviews with Black and White Women Writers

Broken Silences: Interviews with Black and White Women Writers

Synopsis

By selecting articulate, amusing, impassioned, and introspective authors who have portrayed characters across race lines, Jordan focuses on commonalities, as well as important differences, in this creative process. A rare opportunity to read the private thoughts about race and creativity of Joyce Carol Oates, Belva Plain, Grace Paley, Sherley Anne Williams, and others. Illustrated.

Excerpt

The history of the relationship between black and white women is a tangle of suspicion, mistrust, resentment, anger, curiosity, and fear that remains submerged in silence, superficial courtesy, and shallow tolerance. Despite these barriers, some women develop rewarding, long-lasting friendships rooted in honesty, mutual respect, genuine acceptance--all necessary ingredients for building the trust that is the foundation for friendship. Broken Silences is meant as a forum for black and white women to enter a dialogue concerning their perceptions of each other as individuals and as artists.

Initially, I thought that the two central questions to this volume of interviews would be, Can black and white women be friends and can black and white women authors create "authentic" interpretations of each others' lives in fiction? As I review my work over the past two years, I find the first question too limited. Of course, black and white women can be friends. Numerous examples in history and in current society illustrate that barriers such as race, ethnicity, class, and age can be overcome if both parties genuinely accept each other as equals, though replete with human failings. A sincere desire to know the other opens the gates for dialogue, trust, and possible friendship.

My question, therefore, is no longer whether black and white women can be friends, but why do we perpetuate the silence between us? Why do we allow our shared history to remain buried when understanding how that history has devastated all our lives might help us to comprehend and overcome the racism and sexism so prevalent in America today? And why do we not see that any discriminatory practice causes us all to lose? These questions address the forces that keep the races apart, and until we come to terms with the issues behind them, friendships must remain secondary. Unless we come to terms with the pain, the mistrust, and the misgivings that developed in slave society to keep both groups in their places, that pain and mistrust and all the negative effects of not facing the truth will continue to enslave us. We have already . . .

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