Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

"Playing By the Rules: White Privilege and Rachel Jeantel" an Article by Stonecoast Student, Alexis Paige

The Rumpus

In light of recent news surrounding the George Zimmerman trial, Stonecoast student Alexis Paige has an article featured at The Rumpus.net. The beginning of the article is excerpted here: 

PLAYING BY THE RULES: WHITE PRIVILEGE AND RACHEL JEANTEL

BY 

July 1st, 2013

Clue: Post-Racial Edition. It was the black kid in the hoodie, with his cell phone, and “hostile” girlfriend.

During a week when I want to be happy about the death of DOMA, I can’t help but return to my regularly scheduled disillusionment. It shouldn’t be news that Paula Deen is a self-pitying racist in desperate need of waterproof mascara—or at least it shouldn’t be bigger news than the Voting Rights Act ruling that rolled back racial progress about fifty years. And then there’s the George Zimmerman trial with all of its smug punditry, including the focus on witness Rachel Jeantel’s credibility (snicker, snicker), all cloaked in careful, racially neutral language about her education, her behavior, and whether or not she can read cursive.

Part of why this coverage so disillusions me has to do with the writing I am doing, about the drunk-driving arrest in 2005 and subsequent sixty-day-stint in a Houston jail that radically changed my life. I am trying to portray the people I met on that journey—namely poor people of color—honestly, fondly, and with their full humanity. As a young, white, middle-class woman, it was there in the criminal justice system that I received what I now call my “other education,” perhaps even my real education.

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Alexis Paige’s work has appeared in 14 Hills SFSU Review, Seven Days: Vermont’s Independent Voice, Prison Legal News, Ragazine, Pithead Chapel, and on Brevity Magazine’s blog. One of the Brevity posts was “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress in 2012, and she was twice named a top-ten finalist of Glamour Magazine’s essay contest. Paige received an MA in poetry from San Francisco State University, and is currently pursuing an MFA in nonfiction from the Stonecoast creative writing program. She teaches and writes in Vermont, where she is at work on a memoir about the 60-day stint in a Texas jail that taught her how to grow up.