AMERICAN PARIAMERICAN PARIAH
It’s not just me, and it’s not just you: the media really is obsessed with the un-welfare of Black
women. What an odd, but unsurprising confluence of stories recently in the news about us: the
Black woman’s median wealth is $5; the Black woman (still) can’t find a man; Black women aged
14-49 have herpes at a rate of 48 per cent; and the older, but still disheartening facts about new
HIV cases, heart disease, single motherhood, and just about everything else.
The pathologization of Black women is not a new phenomenon—but with all the self-help books,
scientific studies, and public pity, it’s clear that we are back in the spotlight as a demographic to
But here is our response: American Pariah will be an anthology of Black women’s writing
confronting the statistics and the media which claim we are drowning in our own despair. It will
confront the individuals who continue to add to the madness—from Don Imus to Steve Harvey—
and it will address our history in this country, as what Zora Neale Hurston once called us, “the
mule(s) of the world.”
It will also be an interactive website/blog which will continually publish the work of Black women
writers, artists, musicians, as well as the thoughts of everyday women, ordinarily left voiceless.
While we’re looking for work that will assault the media as they’ve assaulted us, we’re not looking
for defensiveness, or work whose intention is external validation. This living text will be for Black
women, not for the people who demean us. It won’t be a desperate mating call, or an upturned
nose, but a celebration and a questioning.
We’re seeking: original poems, stories, essays, accessible and stand-alone pieces of scholarship,
historical sketches, interviews, memoir, and the full breadth of the word “et cetera”—which could
include essay-poems, poem-stories, lyric essay, and any gray area/experimental genre-hopping.
Some work will be featured both in print and online, while some work will only be in print. If you
are interested in contributing to the online component as a blogger, please indicate that in your
Submitted work can take on any format as long as it addresses the media/history/current events
head-on. This means confronting statistics and stereotypes. Possible ideas include persona
poems/pieces in the voices of ancestors, or contemporary Black women; letters to famous
detractors; meditations on the Black female body, or, on your own Black female body; and
personal narratives addressing the difficulties of multiple identities/intersectionality. We also
welcome work examining Black women who have gone completely ignored, particularly Black
lesbians—women who do not fit into the neat categories men/society have created.
Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2010.
Please direct all inquiries and submissions to: email@example.com