COLOR ONLINE: Celebrating Women Writers Who Make History ~ Ari’s Model (Reading in Color)

Bonjour!

Re: Last week’s post: “I’m sure most of you are familiar with the fabulous website COLOR ONLINE, a blog that “focuses on women writers of color for adults YA and children,” that is dedicated to empowering young women and children. If not, make sure to click and read away. Color Online regularly features interviews, book reviews, giveaways and essays on literacy and on various cultural issues. It was founded by LaTonya Baldwin, who is also at the origin of Readers Against WhiteWashing (RAWW).

Color Online is maintained by LaTonya and a community of women bloggers that include Doret (The Happy Nappy Bookseller), Tarie (Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind), Ari (Reading in Color), Vasilly (1330V), Ah Yuan (Gal Novelty), Terri (BrownGirl Speaks), and me (though I don’t contribute as regularly as I’d love to, yet).

To celebrate Women’s History Month, it was only natural to highlight Color Online’s work. And what better way to do so than to pick the brain of some of my colleagues? So I asked:
Tell me about a woman writer who made history, whose life inspire you, and/or whom you consider a role model.

A huge, BIG thank you for Ari‘s (Reading in Color) contribution this week. Dear Miss Attitude, I definitely owe you one! I know you’re busy (making history at Reading in Color, Color Online and to all the places your passion takes you to), so I sincerely appreciate you taking the time for this post. Here’s Ari’s response:

“Toni, Toni, Toni!

A woman writer who inspired me is Toni Morrison, the first Black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. I know, I know, how cliché. It’s not even her books that really inspired me. I’ve only read two of them, The Bluest Eye and Sula. Reading both of those books was like watching a train about to collide with something, the stories were so intense, the stories so heart wrenching that I felt suffocated, holding my breath. Anxiously hoping to read that everything turned out fine in the end or haha it was just a dream. Yet, that’s not Toni Morrison’s style. She writes about the most depressing situations but her characters are always young and resilient. They refuse to be broken, they might get damaged in the process of coming-of-age and/or finding themselves but they are never ruined and there is always the faintest glimmer of hope struggling to break through the darkness of the book.

In The Bluest Eye the schoolchildren and Pecola’s father are so cruel; I literally choked on the angry words threatening to leave my mouth. Toni Morrison’s works never fail to produce a visceral reaction in me. It never ceases to amaze me at how her main characters remain friends.

In Sula, Nel and Sula remain friends. They are complete opposites, they hurt each other deeply but there’s something at the root of their friendship that won’t let them sever ties.

The most important influence Toni Morrison has had on my life though is by pushing me to start a blog. One of my all-time favorite quotes is “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I really wanted to find a blog that featured YA/MG multicultural literature. I found a few, but none written from a teenage perspective; thus, Toni Morrison’s quote is the one that really pushed me to go for it (about 1.5 years ago), to start a blog that spotlighted multicultural literature. Now here I am, Reading in Color has done fairly well in the book blog world and while I don’t have the patience to be a writer/aspiring author, I apply Toni Morrison’s quote to everything in my life that I want to change.

Want to increase the diversity selections in libraries that could use some tender loving care? Start your own project (C.O.L.O.R.).

Want to find a list of all the YA books published about Latinos in the 21st century? Create one. So one and so forth.

Toni Morrison’s quote pushes me to be a go-getter because I’m the only one who can make my dreams/goals come true (as cheesy as that sounds). I need to re-read The Bluest Eye and I also intend to read Jazz as soon as I can.

And listen to some Tony, Toni, Tone ;)”

Thanks, Ari!
Dear readers, are you inspired yet? 🙂

Side note: Relief Efforts for Japan post has been updated.

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About Nathalie Mvondo

Nathalie Mvondo lives in Northern California. She is a writer, a blogger, a community organizer and a social entrepreneur.
This entry was posted in Essay, Events and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to COLOR ONLINE: Celebrating Women Writers Who Make History ~ Ari’s Model (Reading in Color)

  1. Akoss says:

    I got serious about reading books with or written by people of Color when I stumbled on Ari’s blog. She made it easy to find great books instead of combing through google. That was like 5 or six months ago? and I haven’t stopped since. She made me aware of all the “white washing’ that’s going on with great books that happen to have POC as main characters.
    She’s taught me a lot. 🙂

    Like

    • Akoss, I second everything you said. Ever since I found Ari’s blog, it’s been like Christmas every day for me, when I look for a book with culturally diverse main characters, or just want to keep up to date. That girl is one of a kind, isn’t she? 🙂

      Like

      • Akoss says:

        She certainly is. 😀

        Like

      • Ari says:

        Aw you guys *blushes* I learn something new from the blogsphere pretty much everyday and I am beyond thrilled that my small blog is helpful (and the fact that it’s compared to Christmas is an awesome butu ndeserved analogy :D)

        PS Nathalie j’adore the MR logo! It’s wonderful 🙂

        Like

  2. Vasilly says:

    What a great post! Toni Morrison is one of my favorite writers and it’s nice to see how her writing has influenced Ari.

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    • Vasilly, I found Ari’s post quite humbling from a writer’s perspective. How do you take the measure of a successful writer? Through fame? Or the numbers of books sold?

      There’s something to be said about a writer who touches and changes lives, who inspires readers to be agents of a positive change. It’s not something you can fake, right? 🙂

      Like

    • Ari says:

      She’s such an awesome writer! Not that the world awesome even begins to describe her. I can’t wait to read the rest of her work. Do you have a favorite book of hers?

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      • The latest I read was Paradise. I can’t get over her mastery of P.O.V. shifts. I loved every scene, especially the ones taking place in the nunnery. Spooky. Makes you think. Not the mention how deep and dense all the characters are.

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  3. I love Toni Morrison–she was a big influence on me during my college years–and that quote!

    I’m going to hop onto Ari’s blog again to see what she’s been reading.

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    • All the books I read from her haunted me for a very long time. Strong characters. Writing that gets under your skin. Topics, stories that leave you questioning life and yourself, pondering…

      Like

      • Ari says:

        I so agree, Toni Morrison’s characters are strong and her books bring up topics that will bother you, stick with you for quite some time.

        @Medeia-I really need to read all of her work then, in preparation for the Bestest Ramadan =D

        My current recommendation is Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon!

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