Racial narcissism: Honesty, humor, and consequences

Hello, is this thing on? Test, test. Something must be wrong because no one, not a single e-soul, commented on my last post. I thought for sure my "No Change" poem would provoke at least 50 comments. Hey staff of Jacket2, I think this thing is broken. With all the money at UPENN,  I'd think you could afford to put a comment function in.

Oh well, if you'd like to comment, you can always comment via my Facebook (but you have to friend me first) or at my blog, where I will cross post.

One Facebook message I did receive about my last post said:

"I like that your poem reminds me how much I dislike the original poem." I'm not sure if that's a compliment. It's true though: writing "No Change" forced me to live within Baloney Hoagie's "The Change" for a spell, and I just couldn't move with it (they say "white poems can't dance").

The hardest part of the poem to rewrite were lines 2 & 3:  "In the park the daffodils came up / and in the parking lot, the new car models were on parade." This is, by far, the most complex and interesting part of the poem. 

"The Change" is not a "racially complex" poem, as Hoagie (and others) have claimed. The poem can only seriously be claimed as "racially honest." And it's a simple racial honesty, one that many settlers and their descendants share. It's a kind of simple racial honesty that has been cropping up more and more these days. 

For example, did you see Alexandra Wallace's YOUTUBE video (rant? performance poem?) about Asian students in the library at UCLA. Her racial honesty is not quite as mature as Hoagie's, but with a little editorial advice from Hoagie, I'm sure she too can craft her racial honesty to express what racial narcissism means to her. 

Just as there are many responses to Hoagie's "The Change," there were many responses to Wallace's work (a majority of responses to both were by people of color). My favorite response to Wallace is from poet Beau Sia, which you must watch here.

And then there's Noah Kelly's article "Pow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippy Yay" that appeared in a student newspaper at Cal State U Long Beach. So much racial honesty in that piece, so much racial narcissism. You can read the article here. (I'm told that "Pow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippy Yay" means "I love you" in Indigenish). 

Consequences of all this honesty: Wallace withdraws from UCLA, Kelly reads his apology to the American Indian Student Council, and Hoagie's book makes it back to the Contemporary Poetry Bestseller List.