One of my favorite authors, Sherman Alexie was in town last night. And he completely rocked.
If you don't know who he is, then you should. He is a prominent Native American author who has written some amazing books, but he might be best known for writing the screenplay for Smoke Signals.
I am having some of my students read one of his more recent books called Flight. Its about a half Native American foster child dealing with his own reality and his past.
He is know for his frankness about oppression of Native Americans and he deals with many disparaging stereotypes like alcoholism and casinos with humor and satire. He was no different at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
He started by making fun of Santa Cruz in a light-hearted manner. He talked about how its the only place you can find street performers offering tarot cards for money. He then said that he has some issues with the fact that his predominant audience is college educated white women, there was uncomfortable laughter when we all looked around.
He came back around to say that without capitalism, brown people, minorities would not be succeeding in the arts and that it is one of the powerful tools against oppression.
He was abruptly frank with the audience but in a very loving way. I have to say I was very nervous to talk to him, but he was very kid to me.
I have heard about past experiences where he will not come to a place to talk, unless he gets to work with the native community, and looking around the room at the bookstore, I realized that Santa Cruz doesn't have a very strong Native Community.
Here is one of his poems:
Buffalo Bill opens a pawn shop on the reservation