Writing for liberation exercise: “Preaching” politics

Some journalists, writers, and fiction authors would argue that when we have a social justice message we should communicate it subtly through situation, rather than stating the message outright. Many argue that this method respects the reader more – they’ll understand. On the other hand, respect can also be just saying what you mean, clearly, brutally, and without pretence. Literature from many countries, especially African and Latin American ones, is often more openly political, than the literature of the West – so I think its a mistake, and limiting, to say that one method is necessarily right and the other wrong. I think we can use, and learn from both.

In this exercise, we practice abandoning subtlety. If its out of your comfort zone- that’s fine, its useful to try new things, and may it will work for you, or maybe it won’t.

  1. Take the below vignette written by Eduardo Galeano (and translated by me, from his book El Libro de los Abrazos), and note what works, and why.
  2.  Choose from one of the following ideas, or your own, and write about it in just a paragraph, trying to use some of Galeano’s tools that you uncovered in step 1: fear culture, professional life, art and time, digital fingerprints, remembering, exile, bureaucracy, one good night, loved ones, loss, celebrating silence

Divorces – Eduardo Galeano

A system of separations: so that those who keep quiet don’t become questioners, so that those with strong opinions don’t become commentators.  So that those who are alone don’t join together, nor their souls’ fragments join together.

The system divorces emotion and thought in the same way that it divorces sex and love, public life and intimate life, the past and the present. If the past doesn’t have anything to do with the present, history may as well stay asleep, without disturbing its old disguises, stored away in the wardrobe.

The system empties out memories, or it fills memories with rubbish, and like that it teaches us to repeat history rather than making it. Tragedies are repeated as farces, as the famous prophecy goes. But just between us, its worse than that: the tragedies are repeated as tragedies.

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