Black in Middle America

Black in Middle America

I spent five years in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—a place I didn’t even know existed until I moved there to attend graduate school. I lived in a town of four thousand people. The next town over, over the portage bridge, had seven thousand people. In my town, the street signs were...
\'in-glish\

\’in-glish\

I learned to speak English in preschool, at two and a half years old, still young enough to do away with any lingering Chinese accent. Though, sometimes, I wonder if every trace had been scrubbed away, listening intently to my own voice rattling around in my skull for signs of...
A Pop Quiz for White Women Who Think Black Women Should Be Nicer to Them in Conversations about Race

A Pop Quiz for White Women Who Think Black Women Should Be Nicer to Them in Conversations about Race

True or False: Gender oppression is way worse than racial oppression. True or False: I am aware that Black women experience both, but feminists should stick together and focus on fighting sexism, instead of getting distracted by what divides us. True or False: Racism is mostly about personal slights and...
Blood; Quantum

Blood; Quantum

Danielle Geller is the winner of our Race, Racism, and Racialization student writing contest: A few days before I turned three years old, my mother and my father packed my younger sister, my cat, and me into a car to drive from Florida to Window Rock, Arizona, to visit my mother’s...
How to Discuss Race as a White Person

How to Discuss Race as a White Person

1 2 3         4                  5         6 7 8                 9 10         11                      ...
What You Are

What You Are

1. I found my Korean name in the junk drawer. It was printed in old typewriter font on a tiny pink bracelet; the kind that babies wear after they are born at the hospital. But my parents did not take me home from a hospital. They took me home from...
Mexican Americans and American Mexicans: An Etymology

Mexican Americans and American Mexicans: An Etymology

We are in the car driving south on CA-99 toward Anaheim. My sister, Christy, is stretched out in the backseat, my mom is in the passenger seat one leg tucked under her, the other straight, propped on the dashboard, her heel leaving a smudge, filing her nails. I am driving....
Why I Let Him Touch My Hair

Why I Let Him Touch My Hair

I sat beside a white boy in a dead bar. Alone, he slurped beer, watched football. Hair yellow like an unpeeled onion, no signs of sun on his skin. A typical white boy. No match for me, yet, I started it, impressed him with what I knew white boys liked:...
Open Season

Open Season

Here they come coyote, denim sharks with earthen skin, parting the C-Building crowd to bruise blood into pale cheeks, bust up orthodontic smiles, twist back thumbs from scales, turn asphalt into alfalfa, the New Mexican dance with history, the springtime junior high ritual, out for revenge, out for kicks, out...
Things People Said: An Essay in Seven Steps

Things People Said: An Essay in Seven Steps

1. But did your husband ride in on a horse? South Indians don’t ride in on horses; that’s North Indian. Was it a big Indian wedding? I mean how many people? I mean how many hundreds? You didn’t wear a white dress? But was it a traditional wedding?  Did you...
Full Service

Full Service

It is black Friday. I am wearing a black hoodie with the words RACIALLY PROFILED printed in white across my chest. I am selected, randomly, at check in. Hands in my hair,                       down my back, in my hometown airport.                       Never touching my skin, only the fabric that...
On the Near Side of the Tracks

On the Near Side of the Tracks

The house is just this side of disused railroad tracks that stretch diagonally across the suburban street, cutting the property into an awkward slice. The house is close to the street, squat, the side yard brownish. Tree stumps and uneven ground make places where leaves accumulate. The tiny garage hunches...
Degrees of Authenticity

Degrees of Authenticity

She was a river child, a tundra child, a mossy child when Ma played a mail order accordion. Where a Ma-Child found it; how it was lost is not the point. After she found it, before it was lost, when I was a girl Ma played the accordion. When Ma...
How to Erase an Arab

How to Erase an Arab

“Israeli General Says Mission is to Smash P.L.O. in Beirut” Seventh grade, social studies—On the family tree, next to the names of my father’s family, I write locations of birth: Lebanon, Palestine, Syria. I trace flags from my atlas. There is no Palestinian flag in the book, but I know...
Bruised

Bruised

I cut off every curl.   Every nappy thread that would forever belong to him unless I disposed of them.   Even now, when I lie alone at night and close my eyes I can feel his cool fingertips tracing through my scalp.   Until he clutches his fist, my...
White Like Us

White Like Us

First encounter: I am seven. We are driving through downtown East Peoria, the small city in Central Illinois where I grew up, me and my mom in the front, my younger sister in the back. Summer. Windows down. Congested traffic. The heat bakes the concrete. Ahead there is a commotion....
Regaining My Blackness

Regaining My Blackness

I didn’t know I was black until I was 9 years old, when my father called the beggar at the stoplight a nigger. The beggar, a teenage boy in torn clothes, had poked his hand through the driver-side window, palm up—Spare some change, no, sir—daggering my father’s personal space. My...
How We See One Another: Our Guest Editors Castro and Sukrungruang in Conversation

How We See One Another: Our Guest Editors Castro and Sukrungruang in Conversation

Guest editors Joy Castro and Ira Sukrungruang discuss what they hoped for and what they learned in assembling our Special Issue on Race, Racism and Racialization. __ Joy Castro:  Editing this issue with you has been a fascinating process, Ira, and I’m really glad to have gotten the chance to...
Latest Issue
Issue 53 / May 2016

Issue 53 / May 2016

Brevity’s Special Issue examining lived experiences of Race, Racism, and Racialization. Work by Roxane Gay, Kendra Allen, Julie Azzam, Sasha Bonét, Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, Sarah Chávez, Tyrese Coleman, Alice Rose Crow, Bradley Donaldson, Katelyn Hemmeke, Jacob Hilton, Deeshaw Philyaw, Lisa Romeo, Sejal Shah, Samuel Stokley, Christina Tang-Bernas, & Danielle Geller. Artwork by Damon Locks.
Craft Essays

Craft Essays

Xu Xi offers “Three Commandments for Writing About Race” and Guest editors Joy Castro and Ira Sukrungruang discuss what they hoped for and what they learned in assembling our Special 53rd Issue examining lived experiences of race, racism, and racialization and the intersections between race and gender, class, dis/ability, and language. Plus, a variety of past essays looking...
Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Watch our book review section for regular updates on the best new nonfiction titles. We now publish reviews year-round, not only when new issues arrive.
The New Brevity Archives

The New Brevity Archives

Readers, writers, teachers, and students can now find essays and craft-focused discussions under a number of different headings: traditional subjects, such as aging or nature; varying modes and subgenres, such as the profile or meditation; as well as various techniques and literary conventions, such as dialogue and diction.