Moving Forward from “The White Space”–Next Steps

Dear literature-loving friends,
     Last Wednesday night, Yuba Lit held our online discussion of Elijah Anderson’s “The White Space” and Eula Biss’s “No Man’s Land.” In the midst of our national tumult, it was an encouragement and a joy to be part of such a thoughtful and searching conversation with an amazing array of community members who each had a special angle of insight to lend. And as we discussed what new or not-so-new perspectives we had seen in the readings, we naturally soon moved to the question: What can we do here in the Grass Valley/Nevada City region to create spaces welcoming and supportive to all? Specific ideas arose, and I wanted to share those with you.
     Many of us agreed on the importance of gaining a fuller view of our local history and its inequalities. The following books were highly recommended:
 
–History of Us: Nisenan Tribe of the Nevada City Rancheria. Available at the Bookseller and Harmony Books. More information here: https://yubanet.com/regional/history-of-us-nisenan-tribe-of-the-nevada-city-rancheria/
How Much of These Hills Is Gold. More information here: https://bookshop.org/books/how-much-of-these-hills-is-gold/9780525537205
     I left the Yuba Lit discussion particularly struck by the importance of supporting the Nisenan tribe. Discussion members suggested writing to government representatives in support of federal recognition, and taking part in the Ancestral Homelands Reciprocity Program: https://ancestralhomelands.org/
     At the meeting, we also discussed the challenge of most effectively standing up against racism when we see it, and the possibility of joining with other organizations to offer a Bystander Training. I will look into this and welcome further tips for pursuing this.
     And finally but far from least important, discussion members pointed to two vital local groups: Creating Communities Beyond Bias and (a newer organization) Color Me Human.
     Another encouraging outcome of the discussion: participants seemed to feel that Zoom worked well and felt salon-like, a good option for continuing our community while we cannot gather large crowds in person. So I will be looking into doing more Yuba Lit events on Zoom in September and beyond, with visiting writers sharing their work, followed by Q and A.
     Thank you so much to Wednesday’s discussion participants and to the larger Yuba Lit community. Together we are holding a space for supportive, searching, and even at times vulnerable conversation. This gives me hope. Yuba Lit will be reaching out in the weeks to come about future events.
Yours in the love of literature,
Rachel Howard
Yuba Lit Founder
PS: A participant in the discussion also offered a list of “Readily Available Resources Regarding Racism in America,” created by Bill Drake, founder of Communities Beyond Bias. You can see this richly annotated list here: Resources on Racism w Quaker List.
PPS: Another participant highly recommended Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist. As it happens, the Maryland public library system recently held a discussion with Kendi, available free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VyIemUvoEQ
PPPS: Thank you to the Nevada County Arts Council for all their heroic efforts to support the arts during the pandemic, and for supporting Yuba Lit as our fiscal sponsorship organization. Tax-deductible donations may be made here: https://www.nevadacountyarts.org/donate