I’m over at the Huffington Post with a Q&A with author Tayari Jones, whose third novel, Silver Sparrow, just came out.
Here’s a snippet (below). You can read the full interview here.
RF: In 2010 you joined the boycott of Arizona, in protest against SB1070 which penalizes non-Whites. In your letter you wrote, “That people should be legally required to show proof of citizenship is similar to the antebellum mandate that black people produce “free papers” proving themselves not to be slaves.” Recently, after the Trayvon Martin murder, you were on NPR speaking to the fact that young Black girls watch as “our mothers groom our brothers to live in a world that feared them…We, too, were in training, learning to protect the men we loved.” Many writers avoid the activist role despite having one of the best tools – words – at their disposal. What makes you different? What gives you the courage to raise your voice against social injustice?
TJ: I think all artists are activists, whether they know it or not. The ones who think they are avoiding it, are activists for the status quo. I don’t mind expressing my opinions and speaking out against injustice. I would be doing this even if I wasn’t a writer. I grew up in a household that believed in social justice. I have always understood myself as having an obligation to stand on the side of the silenced, the oppressed, and the mistreated. I never made a decision. It was how I was brought up. It’s what I believe. I don’t think it takes courage to stand up. If I fear anything, I fear being silent, because I fear the consequences of that silence.