Favianna Rodriguez’s artwork challenges the idea that white, elite men can or should shape how all of us understand the world. “We need to present a multi-dimensional view of who we are,” says Rodriguez, who serves as the executive director of CultureStrike. “We have to create the content that reflects our stories.”
The woman closest to the door looks like a shorter, younger version of my aunt Eurydice, if Eurydice had been born Mexican and not Georgia Negro. She’s got the same sly slit of an eye-shape as me. Same thin mouth, always near laughter. She’s got none of Eurydice’s material weight. None of them appear to. They waft like holograms before the line of washers, O after O after O, gazing at me now as though I am less substantive even than a hologram, bodiless, an intimation of cool air in an open door.
Omar sat in the front seat of the maxi-taxi minivan with his face puffed-up like a country crapaud. He was pissed. He’d been pissed when he left his mother’s house in the quiet, turtle-watching village of Matura about an hour ago, and he was pissed now as the maxi neared the bustling hub of Pleasantview Junction.
Down in the basement, Aurobindo sat hunched on a low stool. A cloud of sawdust floated above him. His left hand gripped a rectangle of wood. In his right hand was the carving knife. From time to time he snorted in frustration, and looked searchingly at the row of chisels that lay on the bench next to him. But mostly he felt relief. Here, there was no talk of green cards or layoffs. The fireworks that had begun to go off in the neighborhood in anticipation of July 4th were not audible down here. He heard nothing besides the soft, dry sound of wood chipping.
January 31, 1968, Tết, Huế, Vietnam
I travel. In my sleep. It is something I have always been able to do since the first life. So when the Việt Cộng besieged our city and dragged us one by one into the streets, I was already envisioning the dense forests of the Central Highlands. All I had to do block out the chaos and fall asleep.