If Multi-Ethnic literature is meant to give voice to people previously without voice, why does it still have the stereotypes about voiceless groups?Give reference to Edwidge Danticat and Felix...

If Multi-Ethnic literature is meant to give voice to people previously without voice, why does it still have the stereotypes about voiceless groups?

Give reference to Edwidge Danticat and Felix Morisseau-Leroy's poem "Boat People":

Boat People

We are all in a drowning boat
Happened before at St. Domingue
We are the ones called boat people

We all died long ago
What else can frighten us ?
Let them call us boat people

We fight a long time with poverty
On our islands, the sea, everywhere
We never say we are not boat people

In Africa they chased us with dogs
Chained our feet, piled us on
Who then called us boat people?

Half the cargo perished
The rest sold at Bossal Market
It’s them who call us boat people

We stamp our feet down, the earth shakes
Up to Louisiana, down to Venezuela
Who would come and call us boat people?

A bad season in our country
The hungry dog eats thorns
They didn’t call us boat people yet

We looked for jobs and freedom
And they piled us on again: Cargo—Direct to Miami
They start to call us boat people

[...]

http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/3499/prmID/1831

Asked on by goldenliu

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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In "Boat People," written by Felix Morisseau-Leroy and read aloud by Edwidge Danticat at the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in 2009, the stereotypes are included in the poem as a protest against their existence:

One day we’ll stand up, put down our feet
As we did at St. Domingue
They’ll know who these boat people really are
[...]
They will know us
We who simply call ourselves
People

Part of the theory behind exposing stereotypes is that in so exposing them, they are disarmed and rendered valueless and harmless. Exposing stereotypes in multi-ethnic literature, intended to give voice to the previously voiceless, opens the doors for redefining rigid notions of race and pays homage to struggles of pride and the quest for racial identity. The ultimate objective is to overcome the imposed role of being outcast and develop a place of triumphant belonging.

Some may argue that this approach may be counterproductive as the stereotypes become more deeply visualized and--perhaps inadvertently--embraced by the "oppressor" class. The counter to this argument might be that even if this effect of deepening that for which riddance is sought truly occurs, there is such pain and anger that such must be expressed by sterile realism, and the stereotypes are an unequivocal part of that realism.

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