Latest Fiction Book Project: Sticks and Stones
The name of my fictional novel is Sticks and Stones. I am in the process of preparing it for publication. Sticks and Stones is a literary experience about “Whiteness” and “White privilege” seen through the teen age eyes old Savannah Penelope Sales. Savannah is a Black closeted lesbian growing up in a predominantly White working class rural Connecticut town called Lebanon. She is a young woman in a dominant culture she perceives as having White Supremacist values that subjugate Black poor women such as herself.
My work engages the reader to think about USA Culture through the lens of critical race theory, internalized homophobia and racism, and how geography can construct one’s own sexual identity. What makes my work unique is my emphasis on “White privilege” and “rural geographies.” Often, the pervasive nature of “White privilege” is left out of fictional experiences that address race relations within the queer community. Many times, Whites are constructed as being unaware of the fact that their perceptions of reality are founded upon a cultural conditioning that manifest from their privilege of “Whiteness” in America. My intention with Sticks and Stones is to invade this silenced space by creating emotionally intense dialogues among four premiere characters in this book: Savannah Penelope Sales, Davis Allen, Esperanza Perez and Erick Roberts.
Davis Allen is one of Savannah’s best friends. A straight White male who grew up on a rural dairy farm in Lebanon, Davis and Savannah have been friends since they were toddlers. Davis is the only White friend Savannah has ever chosen to develop a close relationship with. When Davis and Savannah interact with each other, the intimacies of their conversations reveal an interesting dynamic within their friendship: Davis’ perception of reality manifests from a privileged point of entry: White, male and straight. Davis can never experience Savannah’s position or perception of being a Black lesbian female. Growing up in an America that has institutionally legitimized Whiteness and heterosexuality as ‘normal’, Davis’ White/straight identity limits him to merely superficially interpreting Savannah’s verbal hostility towards Whites as nothing more than stereotypical “angry black female” banter. Davis often mocks Savannah’s anger. I invite the reader to learn that the book’s theme is not necessarily about Savannah’s anger as it is more about the fact that Davis refuses to acknowledge what “Whiteness” and “White privilege” mean for those who do and do not have it.
The second theme developed in this book is the irreconcilable differences that Erick Roberts and Savannah endure in their rocky new platonic relationship. Erick and Savannah are queer, however, that is where similarities between them end. Their often antagonistic verbal intercourses deconstruct the myth that being queer means they will instantly connect emotionally to each other as comrades in the same battle. The exhaustive energy it takes for both to maintain their volatile relationship has it’s roots in Erick’s oblivion to the fusion of his upper-middle class status and his “Whiteness” when attempting to advise Savannah about being and coming out as a lesbian.
The third theme I develop in this literary work is that Savannah's perception of oppression is positioned within a privileged First World industrialized perspective. Savannah never acknowledges her “privilege” as a USA national; only her lack of “privileges” as a non-White. She considers herself revolutionary in thought in comparison to the people living in the provincial town she grew up in. However, simultaneously, she has no conscious awareness of her perpetuation of inequality outside of America. Esperanza Perez, a key character in my book, is one of her best friends. Esperanza, who originally grew up in Guatemala, visits Savannah from college in Toronto. Through honest and heartfelt dialogues with Esperanza, Savannah’s oblivious understanding of her American “privilege” is revealed. I hope to engage the reader to empathize with Savannah’s realistic struggles with “White Privilege” while also addressing the need for Savannah to engage deeper into social injustice by encompassing and linking Black/White USA racism to a broader range of social and ecological inequalities.
This novel is directed towards people with interest in: Women's Studies, Sexuality Studies, Internalized Racism, Internalized Homophobia, Critical Race Theory, Rural Identity Development, Socio- Economic Studies, Whiteness Studies and African American Studies.