I have long had mixed feelings about events, awards, competitions, clubs, schools…that are segregated, i.e. that are solely for the benefit of one group to the exclusion of others. Separation based on race or age or sex or religion or whatever feels divisive and exclusionary. On the other hand, there are many good reasons to reach out to a specific narrowly focused group. Some will argue that disenfranchised groups need targeted opportunities to receive services and benefits to which they would not otherwise have access. Others will argue that two wrongs don’t make a right and will point to individuals who have found the ways and means to achieve their goals regardless.

It’s been awhile since affirmative action was a hot news topic, so why am I talking about it now? I just received an email and flyer from one of my writing mentors. Marita Golden saw a lack of institutional resources in the African American community dedicated to supporting creative writing either as an artistic expression or a professional endeavor. So she and a colleague created the Hurston/Wright Foundation to discover, develop, and honor Black writers. Now she was writing to announce a new Writers’ Week Workshop to take place in Washington DC in July, where an international community of Black writers will meet in a nurturing/safe space to discuss their work, its meaning, and unique aesthetic.

I’ve been debating with myself about whether or not I want to help them spread the word. I decided in the affirmative. Recognizing that such a unique aesthetic exists and should be nurtured, explored, developed and understood is a good reason for selective inclusion and therefore something I can support as an outsider. Plus they are offering a special tuition-free track for high school students, and I’m all for nurturing young writers. So if you know any aspiring African-American writers in high-school, please tell them about this opportunity. (Info and application details are here)

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