Black Laureate Is More Than Sum of Her Parts

Writing for the Huffington Post, Marcia Alesan Dawkins says that the heritage of Natasha Trethewey, the United States' newest poet laureate, makes her part of an American story that usually goes unwritten.  

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Emory University

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Marcia Alesan Dawkins writes that the heritage of the United States' newest poet laureate makes her part of an American story that usually goes unwritten.  

Recently released reports by the Pew Center and the US Census Bureau indicate that intermarriage across racial and ethnic lines and an increasing non-white demographic continue to be on the rise in the U.S. Given this month's focus on Loving Day and its impact on multiracial ancestries, we can certainly take this news as cause for celebration and a reason to continue the fight for marriage equality everywhere. And, as I argue in my book Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, we should remember that a fuller and more accurate historical account of interracial sex and marriage in the U.S. should also focus on the details.

Enter Natasha Trethewey, the United States' next poet laureate. Tretheway, the multiracial African-American daughter of an interracial couple, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of three collections and a professor of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. She is first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original laureate, and the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993.

But Tretheway is much more than the sum of her parts. As the product of a union that was still a crime in Mississippi when her parents married, and of a nation still bearing the scars of its broken union, she is the voice of a history that has been largely unwritten.

Read Marcia Alesan Dawkins' entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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