My experience as a southern working-class black female from a religious family has shaped the way I see the world. Yet the specificity of that experience does not keep me from addressing universal concerns. It is not an either/or issue and never has been. Both in our past and present the tyranny of race, gender, and social biases has meant that disenfranchised writers have had to struggle for voice and recognition in ways that highlight identity. That struggle has not ended, as we must now resist the form recognition takes when these categories are then deployed to confine and restrict our voices. If long-standing structures of hierarchy and domination were not still in place and daily reinscribed, calling attention to a writer’s race, gender, class, or sexual practice would illuminate work, expand awareness and understanding.
bell hooks (in “Writing Without Labels”) discussing life as a writer working around, with, and without labels, articulating a core piece of identity on display through the universalizing work of words.