Racism is Messy

J Mase III
J Mase III Author Interview

White Folks Be Trippin’ is a thoughtful collection of poetry that explores people and culture. What were some ideas you felt were important to highlight in your poetry?

Honestly, I wanted to create a space where I could be truthful about the absurdities of maneuvering through the white gaze as a Black person. When folks read this text, I want them to feel like they were immersed in a workshop where we got to cry, and laugh and throw things together. From naming the ways we protect white innocence, to understanding the nuances of how we rob Black/Brown/Indigenous children of theirs, I used poetry, micro-memoir and worksheets to play out all the darting thoughts that come across a mind forced to bear witness to the realities of whiteness in it is truest forms. Incarceration sites to the slave owning history of our Bank lenders, racism is messy and the gaslighting runs deep.

There is deep examination of race and justice in the book. What do you feel is something that doesn’t get discussed a lot when it comes to race?

When it comes to discussing race, especially as authors, we are demanded to write about race from a perspective that is about teaching white people how to be better versions of themselves, rather than pouring into Black, Brown and/or Indigenous folks who suffer under the weight of racism and white supremacy. That in and of itself is racism and white supremacy. The notion that the people that we should invest the most in intellectually are white people robs Black/Brown/Indigenous folks of our right to learn more about the systems we live in, about our own people, about our own capacity for growth. Many racial justice learning spaces operate from this perspective as though the learning of the most targeted peoples is unimportant. I am invested in writing books that center our awareness when it comes to race and justice rather than feel compelled to write for an audience that refuses to up their game and be in it with the experts rather than at the starting place.

Did you write this collection of poetry over time or did you write it specifically for this book?

I started this collection a few months after I moved from NYC to Seattle, WA in early 2016. Moving from a city as large as New York, to a place like Seattle was a culture shock. What was even more interesting, is that as white as Seattle is, people spoke of it as if it was (and is) a huge progressive bubble. Meanwhile, I was experiencing some of the most direct racism I had ever encountered. I needed a place to express what I was observing- that what white folks were telling themselves about who they are, was different than how they showed up. I made a short chapbook version of this book, and thought that would be it. Then the pandemic hit, and then the Black Uprising, and I wanted to make a tool for us. For Black folks. It’s almost normal for Black folks to be expected to absorb all the violence we deal with in these systems and just keep going as if we are superhuman. This Spring reminded me of our need to reflect.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

I hope readers of this book understand Black folks, Brown folks & Indigenous folks have a right to our humanity, which includes talking about our experiences in a way that is not meant to coddle white people.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram

In the spirit of Langston Hughes’s the Ways of White Folks, Black Trans poet & educator, J Mase III takes us on a journey through the absurdities of whiteness. From MLK quotes out of context, to strange dance moves and circular conversations about justice that go nowhere, he guides us into accepting what we already know: White Folks Be Trippin’. More importantly, in an Instagram world he warns that not knowing the complexities of whiteness, white supremacy and its impacts can be downright dangerous for us all.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on November 15, 2020, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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