by Kyon Benally
Writing is quite difficult for everyone.
This simple yet comforting statement sums up the feeling of the two-day writing workshop put on by The Red Nation. The Red Nation invited two renowned writers, Jaskiran Dhillon and Siddhartha Deb, to co-host the Writing Revolution on April 20 and 21. Dhillon and Deb took time out of there personal lives to support The Red Nation with the Writing Revolution to mentor the next generation of youth organizers. Jaskiran Dhillon (Global Studies) and Siddhartha Deb (Literary Studies) are both Associate Professors from The New School based in New York City, NY. Do not let this skew the workshop as part of the academy. This writing workshop was organized as part of a longer tradition of class warfare where knowledge is produced to politicize the working class and grassroots organizers.
The first day consisted of learning about the various forms of writing that dominate the literary and media landscape in the heart of US empire. The forms discussed–memoirs, blogs, etc.– only focus on the self. “Writing is only for people in college” and “I’m insecure about my writing” were a few of the thoughts shared by TRN members, but as we learned– this is a false perception. Justine Teba, a TRN member who attended the workshop, reflected afterwards, “I never realized what a freedom [writing] was.” She was not the only member to come to these realizations. The atmosphere was liberating and empowering for all.
In the US writing is seen as a class privilege and this explains why writing is hard. Writing is viewed as work that poor and dispossessed people are not capable of. The fact is that writing is labor and that should be respected. Writing is a daily practice that requires time and patience. The act of sitting down to write one word should be celebrated as a victory.
The second day was about why writing and telling stories ourselves is extremely needed–stories that decenter the United States and bring the Global South into discussion. With this goal the workshop explored journalism as a tool of connecting struggles across colonial borders. The media and press in the United States are flooded with purported “fair” and “balanced” reporting. Yet the world is not. There is a double standard when it comes to reporting on the poor and dispossessed. Fair and balanced reporting in journalism aims to portray us as failures in not succeeding in capitalism.
As The Red Nation is now producing their own media that tells the stories of the poor and dispossessed, we are committed to supporting one another to become strong writers, strong readers and editors.
Writing is for everyone.