Má-ka Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent


212 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-896705-14-6
DDC 820.8'0353




Edited by Debbie Douglas et al
Reviewed by Britta Santowski

Britta Santowski is a freelance writer in Victoria, British Columbia.


Mб-ka, as explained in the introduction, is “the name given by many
Africans in the diaspora to a thorny, prickly plant, common in tropical
countries and growing wild in proliferation.” It is also something
“often taken for granted. You are reminded of it when it juks you.”

The title of this anthology continues to suggest a neatly categorized
compilation: contemporary writings by queers of African descent. We take
comfort in categorizing. We slot people into groups according to gender,
sexuality, and ethnicity. But to categorize projects a (frequently
false) sense of understanding. And to claim understanding is to claim
control. The 40 stories in this collection shatter the myths of
containment and definition.

In her explorative work-in-progress titled “Five Days Gone: A
Fortnight in the Life of a Jamaican Lesbian,” Judith Nicholson uses
her native patwa language to explore the narrator’s desperate clinging
to the thin string of sanity. Here, the use of “language keep mi
madness to dis page alone. Dis get di red pain dat toss like bauxite
dust and settle inna every crevice and crease of mi life.” This story
contrasts sharply with Terry W. Drayton’s “Pink Curlers and Fluffy
Slippers,” in which the narrator occupies a space in the social centre
(husband to a beautiful wife, and father to “two very bright and
well-mannered children”); in spite of this “comfort,” he
gravitates toward a juxtaposing life where personal desire overrides the
taboo of violating social norms. In “Melting My Iron Maiden,” T.J.
Bryan examines and dismantles the politics of S&M sex for a black woman.
She explores how S&M desire conflicts with the traditional taboo of
black master–slave relationships. The narrator examines her place in a
world where “egalitarian, ‘womyn loving womyn,’ feminist sex just
don’t do it for me anymore.”

These and the other stories validate life on the outside edge of the
trendy periphery. They give permission to those who want to shift closer
to order, to those who want to explode into chaos, and to those who want
to find and define their own spaces somewhere in between.


“Má-ka Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/3049.