Junot Diaz


On the marginalization of immigrant narratives: This is not the country we pretend it is. This is a country that turns on the T.V every day, goes to the movies every day, listens to the radio every day, and receives a delusion about itself. It receives a delusion. Turn on the T.V – everybody is white. Go to the movies – everybody is a white guy. This country is far more diverse and far more profoundly human than that, and I think eventually our reading habits and our cultural systems will catch up, or we’ll make them catch up. How do we get anyone to read in a culture where there is no space for contemplation? There are trillions of dollars trying to capture young people’s imaginaries and move them away from any contemplative life, from any life of deliberation, from any human rhythm – and books, novels, poetry, essay, sculpture, dance; this is from a much more human rhythm, and it’s a literacy that you have to fight to preserve, because the whole country is trying to disrupt that literacy. The whole culture is trying to say that there is no time, that you’re living in a sped up world. So just even beyond the fact that one comes from an immigrant background, we’re already at a baseline that doesn’t encourage people to sit still and read, to just take time to deliberate, and to contemplate. And I think that we need time to deliberate and contemplate to feel human. I don’t think you can reconstruct and reconstitute yourself after every day without that time, and part of the reason most of our souls feel so heavy and so frantic is because we don’t get the deliberation and contemplation that would allow us to reconstitute ourselves, after a day of living in a society that only encourages you to compete, create hierarchies, and accumulate. And then the larger question is – well, what about the people who fall outside of the cultural privileges and fall outside of the mainstream?    … To those guardians of this most sacred practice of what keeps us human, we owe a lot to them. I am not completely disheartened by how many people don’t read, because I think, given the forces aligned against us, reading has survived far better than what we could have expected.  


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