Even Your Queer Reading Is White

Vivek Shraya’s Poetic Justice

  • Tara Atluri
Keywords: poetry, homonationalism, white supremacy, whiteness, racism, racialization, queer people of colour, postcolonialism, sexualities, resistance

Abstract

Racism is inextricable from queer politics. e prevailing whiteness of main- stream queer communities in Western secular contexts draws attention to the pressing need to consider how white supremacy wounds racialized queer people. Vivek Shraya is a transgender South Asian Canadian artist, whose multidis- ciplinary creative praxis and proli c writing is profoundly valuable in times of pervasive systemic oppression and commonplace cruelty (Vivekshraya.com 2016). Shraya’s most recent book of poetry, even this page is white (2016) is a visceral challenge to the racism that de nes white settler colonial ideologies in Turtle Island. Shraya’s poetry smashes the veneer of an imagined polite, peaceful, and quaint “Canada” not marred by racism. By discussing whiteness as an economic, structural, and embodied form of sexual capital, the author shatters the illusion of a queer community that is not steeped in white supremacist ideology. Racist injunctions regarding whose aesthetics and bodies are constructed as “properly” queer and as deserving of love produce ostensible feminist and queer “com- munities” of normative and celebrated whiteness. even this page is white is a rich assemblage of queer anti-colonial art, a prosaic form of politics that refuses complicity in the face of oppression. Shraya’s brilliance lies in merging the aesthetics of poetic form with an a ective political discourse that challenges the chilling violence of racism. even this page is white boldly confronts whiteness, contesting neo-Orientalist forms of multicultural pageantry and nauseating platitudes of “diversity” that are used to evade questions of systemic oppression. As a literary work, even this page is white interrupts the seamless systemic racism that structures canons of poetry and “queer readings” of “queer fiction” that are in fact white readings of white fiction. Shraya’s deft literary skill, artistic empathy, and political tenacity evoke the poetry of Audre Lorde who once wrote, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”    

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Published
2018-10-15
How to Cite
Atluri, T. (2018). Even Your Queer Reading Is White: Vivek Shraya’s Poetic Justice. Lambda Nordica, 23(1-2), 110-138. Retrieved from https://www.lambdanordica.org/index.php/lambdanordica/article/view/486