All posts tagged: POC

How to Find a Writing MFA Program for POCs

Note: This piece originally appeared on Medium. Time for some Real Talk. If you happen to be coming from my How To Apply To A Writing MFA Program article, this is the part where I say a bunch of things that a lot of other people cannot get away with saying. When it comes to applying to a writing master’s program, it is not the same for us.  Why? Junot Diaz and David Mura say it best in “MFA vs. POC“ and “The Student of Color in a Typical MFA Program.” For minorities, I would consider these mandatory reading, so you are fully aware of what you are up against. A taste from Junot Diaz: I can’t tell you how often students of color seek me out during my visits or approach me after readings in order to share with me the racist nonsense they’re facing in their programs, from both their peers and their professors. In the last 17 years I must have had at least three hundred of these conversations, minimum. I remember one young MFA’r describing how …

Becoming the Killjoy: Confronting Academic Spaces

Finishing up my final semester at University of Wyoming’s MFA felt tumultuous, though I suppose it couldn’t have ended any other way. Many faculty seemed to be leaving UW amidst the school’s large-scale budgeting overhaul due to the collapse of Wyoming’s coal industry last year, nothing new for the state considering its legacy of booms and busts. A new drama was rising afresh within the program as students learned of the manner in which beloved faculty member, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, had been terminated. Further, this was all happening against the backdrop of macro and micro struggles. Each week was some new round of messy political theatre, and meanwhile my friends and I were going through own crises, doing what we could to find moments together to fight through the gloom. After my thesis defense, one of my committee members gave me a letter that contained everything I needed to hear at the end of this stricken road. Even now, I’m holding the letter, reading through it again and finding myself wrecked with the sharp joy of …

Writing As “Other” And Why You Have To Tell Your Stories

photo credit: via NPR Code Switch (Images.com/Corbis) I am not your perfect liberal. Sometimes I accidentally mess up gender pronouns, and I watch television shows that sustain the patriarchy (The Bachelor is such a juicy mess this season). Sometimes I date self-obsessed men who fuck with my self-esteem, and I take way-too-long to delete their phone numbers. Every day, I hang out with educated people in the small liberal circles at my university. I don’t spend enough time volunteering in the communities that are like the one I came from. I’m a masters student now. I went to a fancy college. I write things and they get published sometimes. To many folks, I’m living a version of the American Dream. But what am I currently doing to help the people who grew up like me? To let them know that I hear them? That I am still here for us? Nobody in my family voted for Trump. I come from poor people. Poor brown people. Immigrants. My father cannot legally vote. Of course, I always …

Seeking POC: How to Choose MFA Programs

Image: Mike Cerrillo In my first creative writing workshop, a young white man wrote a stereotypical story about the experience of a young, white man who went to Lima on his study abroad trip and met a wife beating Peruvian man who scared the narrator into buying a pocket knife to carry around with him in the city for protection. Imagine my eyes rolling back into my brain. We workshopped his story focusing on “craft” until the only other Latino person in the class brought up the story’s race problems: “This piece reenacts the stereotype of violent Latino men.” I agreed and between the two of us, we pointed out Latino related issues including improper Spanish translations, weak characters, and an assumption of white readership. After a few minutes, our old white man professor said, “I think it’s cute that you guys want to discuss race in this story. But this is a problem of craft. This story isn’t working because it’s just not good. The race stuff is secondary to that.” In four sentences, …

Shakarean Hutchinson Introduction (Applicant ’16)

Image: Andrew Taylor I finished my first application today (December 8th) with the mailing of my writing sample. I expected to feel something when the USPS worker took the envelope from me—happiness, relief, nervousness. Instead I felt what can only be described as meh. A 5 on a scale of 10. Baked but lightly salted crackers. Water. And not the icy cold water you drink after being out in the hot sun for hours on end either. Just plain, room temperature, straight from the tap water. *** I didn’t know anything about MFA programs until about three years ago while reading the bio of a random writer who had a short story published in an online journal I enjoyed. And even after doing a casual Google search on MFA programs I didn’t give it all that much thought. My future plans included getting an advanced degree in…something (hadn’t decided at the time), become a professor, and spend the rest of my life teaching and paying off student loans. And should I write a story or …

The MFA Vs. Everyone Not a Straight, White Male

I am a black woman. I consider myself lucky that I chose a program that houses other black women, making me not the token for the first time in my experience of higher education. I chose a program that even has black men, and other types of people of color in it. I chose a program that has people in it who fight for the voices of marginalized populations as their daily bread, in and out of what they do for writing or for work. However, even paradise (which I consider my program to be) has its flaws. I came to the program brimming with enthusiasm, and ready to write. My first fiction workshop made me self-conscious. I was the only black woman in that class. I, coming from a predominantly white institution for undergrad, have been known to carry the weight of race. I felt conflicted. I didn’t want to submit something for workshop that was urban or street fiction. I felt that gritty urban fiction was something my peers expected me to be …