In the past year, my first in a prestigious Ph.D. program in creative writing and literature, I have often felt conspicuous as a writer of color. I have felt a responsibility to speak up when race is discussed, but I have also resented this responsibility. Lately, I have found myself burying my head. It bothers me to no end that the pressure is beating me, and yet it is.
Like many writers of color, I read Junot Diaz’s “MFA vs. POC” on the New Yorker blog, and identified with his anger and sadness at the loss of voices of color to the “white straight male” default of the writing workshop — a group of writers gathering to critique one another’s work. I have had “good” and “bad” workshop experiences, but for me whenever race comes up, it feels, somehow, traumatic. While most issues in workshop are presented as universal to story, race can come off as a burden personal to writers of color."