Photograph of Novelist Katie CrouchBestselling author Katie Crouch (Men and Dogs; Girls in Trucks) has a new book out. Abroad is a quick-moving, high-action read that plays out both our best and worst fantasies of being a young, beautiful foreigner in Italy. Her characters are so perfectly drawn, so wonderfully vivid, you might just confuse them for people you actually know (or have read about in the news!).

 

Dear Lobbyist Bowles,

I recently read about the exciting new venture your organization is embarking on and am very interested in the Social Media position you are no doubt preparing to establish. Having just graduated from the number one party school in the entire southwest, I am eager for an opportunity to get my foot in the door and begin my life in the workforce. Making that happen with a well-established movement such as yours would be a bonus. (Everyone wants some job security these days, am I right?)

When Alexandra Wallace posted a YouTube video of herself complaining about the “hordes” of Asian students at UCLA and how their existence on campus interfered with her student performance (in the video Wallace mocks the way Asian students speak on their cell phones in the library. “Ching Chong, Ting Tong, Ling Long” she sneers, holding an imaginary phone up to her ear) the response was venomous. Tons of insulted students of all races, creeds and genders logged online to insult her back, oftentimes relying on racist and sexist stereotypes designed to insult and intimidate. Most of these insults drew attention to her cleavage and the fact that she was a “stupid, slutty little white girl”, rather than a bigot. Though the rage that Wallace provoked was certainly merited, as noted on blogs like Racialicious and Colorlines, the use of equally appalling slurs to shame her begs the question of what kind of dialogue we aim to promote in our current culture. Though there has been considerable backlash about what is politically correct and incorrect to say in our culture, the constant influx of these type of insult matches demonstrates how often discussions about racism, sexism, orany other “ism” end with piled on insults and relying on hurtful stereotypes in order to shame the other. This is the current landscape of 2011, a far cry from the days where politically correct labels were slapped on to anything in order to minimize conflict. These days, people want their conflicts right out there in the open. The question is, are these types of conversations actually working to minimize hate?

You had weapons for cheekbones
a killer swagger in leather pants
fingers like the Nightstalker
and eyes that asked for nothing

You were black piano keys
the smell of gasoline
Berlin at the fall of the wall
Troy at the fallacy of the gift
I would have fought a war to save that face

A mind like Screwtape and a form like mortal sin
you took everything and loved nothing
incomplete, human parts missing
as dead as you are deadly

We spared and struck
threatened and clung
I learned you to My Bloody Valentine
you forgot me to Ziggy Stardust

Dude, you ruined David Bowie for me
you wound yourself around every song
and wrung the blood out of everything

I climbed the tower of you
threw myself out of the window
for the sake of the view

You metastasized through my life
illuminating and detonating
yours is a cancer of the glow in the dark variety
of the pretty boy variety
of the bare your wrists to me variety

People impale themselves on hope
for your kind of beauty
ruthless, thoughtless, insidious
you peeled women like apples
like we had a history old debt to you
like snakes were a fashion statement for the curious
like the gravity that only the dark knows how hustle.