Delusions Of Whiteness In The Avant Garde Analysis

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Oakland Poetry: The Rise of Young Voices of Color

Oakland is a community flourishing in the arts, poetry and literature kept alive by Young Artists and Poets. Many of these young poets have been historically ignored by Academia. The body of poetry in Oakland consists of oral/performance poetry and flourishes in communal spaces, spaces that work towards unifying the community and creating a safe environment for underrepresented and marginalized communities.From the beginning of the Black Arts Movement in the 70s with writers like Ishmael Reed and Sarah Webster Fabio have pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a writer. There is a new emergence of young creativity in Oakland that has been inspired by the upsurge of political
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Writers that have spoken out against racism have been shunned in the literary world. Kathy Hongs essay “Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant Garde” tackles this issue. She argues that the acceptance of poetry in the literary world is based on how poets of color address race: “mainstream poetry is rather pernicious at in awarding quietist minority poets, who assage quasi white liberal guilt rather than challenge it.” A poet that is on the fringes of any mainstream political debate is often dismissed as a fanatic. However in the small knit community of Oakland, this poetry flourishes.
One collective of poets is Syster Cypher which takes place sporadically in Qilombo (Afrika town) a radical space established by young black and brown people: “(open its) doors and (provide) public space to all peoples during these times of intensive gentrification, system oppression and displacement, while also striving to empower those whose political economic voices have been marginalized.” This space hold poetry nights that focus on the work of oppressed minorities, women, queer, black and brown
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These oral stories contain the history and the culture of these communities. Many of the people that inhabit Oakland are products of colonialism and diaspora. Oral tradition is a means to communicate, perpetuate and survive. In Oakland, young people are using this medium as an extension of their own by creating a culture of resistance through community building. Today, gentrification drastically changes the landscape of what it means to be a poet of color in Oakland. The once booming “chocolate city” has lost 70% of its black community. According to the New York times Oakland is one of the most expensive places to rent: “prices have surged across the Bay Area, Oakland’s pricing advantages have mostly eroded. Rents have increased 70 percent in five years.” Sophie Elkin the former Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland writes about this phenomena in

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