During a two-day symposium at Stanford University, Junot Diaz had the opportunity to sit down with editor Paula M.L. Moya to discuss his work and his thoughts about his intersection of race and literature. This particular answer, in response to Moya’s question about whether people of color unconsciously fuel white supremacy, stood out to us:
How can you change something if you won’t even acknowledge its existence, or if you downplay its significance? White supremacy is the great silence of our world, and in it is embedded much of what ails us as a planet. The silence around white supremacy is like the silence around Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, or the Voldemort name which must never be uttered in the Harry Potter novels. And yet here’s the rub: if a critique of white supremacy doesn’t first flow through you, doesn’t first implicate you, then you have missed the mark; you have, in fact, almost guaranteed its survival and reproduction. There’s that old saying: the devil’s greatest trick is that he convinced people that he doesn’t exist. Well, white supremacy’s greatest trick is that it has convinced people that, if it exists at all, it exists always in other people, never in us.
Diaz will also be headlining the upcoming Facing Race conference in November 2012. The three-day event is the largest gathering of journalists, artists, activists and leaders assembled in one area to discuss racial justice. As a writer whose work dives deeply into the racial issues and dilemmas, we definitely think Diaz is well suited to address the attendees. See the trailer for the event below.