Fascinating or Creepy

The story “A Conversation about Bread” by Nafissa Thompson Spires, is a story about two boys that were assigned to complete a writing assignment. Eldwin has to write a story about an interesting moment from Brian’s life. As we follow Eldwin through the many revisions and edits to his writing, Brian shows the reader his interesting point of view on storytelling.

There seems to be a recurring motif in the story of a white woman creepily watching and observing people of color. There is the white woman who takes notes while they are writing, there is stalker Kim, and there is the lady that went to college with Brian’s mom. I believe this was done intentionally. Throughout the short story, Brian seems to get mad at Eldwin when he writes about his life, because he believes that the way Eldwin is writing, is almost as if he is “fetishizing” people of color in order to make the story more “interesting” for the reader. This idea of white people “fetishizing” stories of people of color is present in many stories today and can actually come off as creepy or distancing. This is also demonstrated when Brian tells Eldwin about his mom’s roommate in college. Brian says “So she could catch her in her ‘natural state.’ The girl was sending the pictures home to her family, like, look at this elephant I saw at the watering hole or this native with a disc in her lip”(179). In these instances, this extreme fascination makes the person being observed feel uncomfortable and “exotic”. This is demonstrated again when Brian says  that “ both men felt like unicorns in their grad program” and that “ he was more self-conscious about his black maleness than his disability”(177). I find this interesting because I have never noticed this before. After reading this story I realized that many of the pieces of literature that I have read in the past fit this exact idea. I believe that we should strive to make stories interesting and appealing to the reader, without singling out races different from our own as “exotic”.

4 thoughts on “Fascinating or Creepy

  1. JONATHAN PERKINS

    I agree with your observation here, and I think it can be plainly seen in Edwin’s self-questioning, “Didn’t every story provide a narrow representation at best and fetishize somebody at worst?” I think we see parallels to this notion of author fetishization in the white women you discuss in the story.

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  2. LIVIA N.

    Yes.. in the context of when the story was written there wasn’t much stigma around objectifying black people. Stereotypes were widespread and there weren’t consequences for doing so. This is why the people had no regard for the black characters’ individual feelings or insecurities. Or perhaps the ladies didn’t notice that the men noticed them?

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  3. ISABEL EVANS

    I really liked how the author used the story about his mom to give an example of the racism seen on campus. I also agree that in many stories i’ve read they tend to talk about black characters differently than white ones..

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