Category: Blue Talk and Love

“Blue Talk and Love” by Mecca Jamilla Sullivan

Learning To Accept Your Identity

In “Blue Talk and Love”, Sullivan scripts the journey of Earnestine, and how she comes to accept and embrace her race, sexuality, and overall appearance in relation to those around her.  Earnestine has many different issues in her life that she struggles with, but most of all she hates the fact that she doesn’t look and act  like the other girls in her school and ARYSE classes. Sullivan describes how Earnestine doesn’t fit the mold in any part of her life and contrasts that with Xiomara who is the “perfect” pretty, popular girl in everything she does.

Sullivan spends a lot of time throughout the piece comparing and contrasting Xiomara and Earnestine in order to help the readers understand quite how out of place Earnestine feels in her own skin.  Sullivan uses Earnestine’s encounters in school specifically to set the tone on how Earnestine feels about herself and how she feels about her relationship with Xiomara . For example, Sullivan describes Earnestine’s experience in the science classroom with the “oobleck” to show that Earnestine finds herself to be awkward, unattractive and strange.  Another example is when Earnestine has an argument with Jacob and he clearly brings out a sore spot for Earnestine by comparing her to Xiomara and even saying that Xiomara doesn’t like Earnestine. This situation proves that the relationship between Xiomara is seemingly one sided sometimes, and continues the idea that Xiomara is the “perfect” type of girl.  Xiomara throughout the piece serves as a contrast to Earnestine, but also shares some important things with Earnestine.  Xiomara and Earnestine share some similarities that in the end bring them closer and allow them to explore their relationship.

I overall really enjoyed this piece and found the way Sullivan wrote to be really captivating.

Descriptions and dyads

In Blue Talk and Love, Sullivan uses the characters of Earnestine and Xiomara to explore the relationship between two girls who eventually come to find more similarities than differences in their personalities. I think that something I enjoyed the most about the chapter was Sullivan’s use of beautiful metaphors to set the scene. Not only was I able to picture myself standing on the exact balcony where Earnestine and Xiomara smoked together, but I was able to immerse all my senses in the situation. I thought that the writing was brilliantly done, and was intrigued to read more.

With regards to the topic, love and sexuality, I was slightly confused by Sullivan’s focus on individual lives rather than the lives of two people together. Although the beginning of the chapter highlighted Earnestine’s relationship with Xiomara, the majority of the chapter described them as two separate individuals, and their independent characteristics and traits. However, as I think about it now, I imagine that the independent descriptions of each character, and the glimpses into their lives, allow the reader to understand and sympathize with each character’s experiences. I especially understood the internal struggles Earnestine was going through, with her family problems and social standing. Her sexuality was part of her development, but was unclear because of the chaos in her life.

Sexuality and privacy

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s fiction short story, “Blue Talk and Love,”  explores the life of Earnestine Sanchez and her struggles with her identity. Initially, the piece focuses on Earnestine’s inability to fit in at both her school and at her ARYSE program. Throughout the short story, the narrator vocalizes Earnestine’s insecurities about her race, class, and sexuality.

Earnestine feels uncomfortable at school because she doesn’t fit the standards of white beauty. Additionally, because Earnestine doesn’t feel attracted to men, she struggles with society’s perception of how a girl her age should act. Xiomara’s stories about boys don’t interest Earnestine because Earnestine “liked boys like she liked anybody else” (26). Because of this, Earnestine’s feelings toward Xiomara are conflicted, thus leading to the love-hate relationship she has with Xiomara. Earnestine often finds herself feeling jealous of Xiomara because although Xiomara also isn’t white, “by all indications, Xiomara did alright for herself” in society (26).

Earnestine’s sexuality is never explicitly discussed in the story; rather, her true feelings toward Xiomara are hidden throughout the piece. I like how Sullivan chose not to make Earnestine’s sexuality the focus of the story, as it demonstrates that one’s sexuality is not necessarily their defining feature. Furthermore, sexuality is not something one can label or categorize, as in the beginning, many often don’t immediately label themselves as lesbian or gay, if they classify themselves at all. Sexuality is not something that one can organize into neat boxes; rather, it is a spectrum. Additionally, just like in the story, sexuality is something that, by some, is not even considered until later in life, as it is often precedented by other issues in out lives such as our insecurities or our conflicting views on what is accepted by society.

The Beauty in Complicated Relationships

In Blue Talk and Love, the fictional short story is told from he point of view of a girl named Ernestine who is going through the process of figuring out her sexuality as well as just figuring out herself and her place in the world.

While reading, I felt that Earnesteine and Xiomara’s relationship replicated the relationship between Earnesteine’s mother and father. Earnesteine’s dad is almost blissfully ignorant. Life is easy for him and he doesn’t concern himself with household affairs to the same extent that her mother does. Despite all of this, he still isn’t content with his life and often copes with it by isolating himself. Earnesteine’s mother seems to be burnt out by all of the responsibilities that she has to take on due to the passive role her husband has assumed in the household. Xiomara is the same as Ernesto, she seems to float through life happy and is really well received by her peers. It is for these reasons that Earnesteine resents Xiomara. Earnesteine is the opposite of Xiomara, she’s insecure and unsatisfied with pretty much every aspect of her life.

Despite the flawed nature of both of these relationships, at the root of the two is the love that each person has for the other. If not love, then they all care a lot about the other person. If this wasn’t the case, Earnesteine wouldn’t be so consumed with Xiomara and Earnesteine’s parents wouldn’t be together anymore. What I like about this short story is the way the author depicted the complicated nature of romantic relationships and how it plays out in the way the two people in that relationship interact with each other.

It’s Okay to Be Different

In “Blue Talk and Love”, Sullivan utilizes the character Earnestine beautifully to show her differences from the norm and has you rooting for her in the end. The character Earnestine portrays an internal conflict that many people have regarding race and sexual orientation. During the story, she always compares herself to the pretty white girls, which is considered the norm. She hangs out with Xiomara and constantly wishes she has her attributes. However, she would always be considered different because of her skin color. She tries prying into Xiomara stories about boys and hopes to feel the same connection that she does. Earnestine doesn’t and it’s evident that these differences causes tension within her mood and confusion about who is she supposed to be.

 

Earnestine’s talk with her father was the turning point where Earnestine finally realized it’s okay to be different. I feel like the father told Earnestine what she already knew and his example of a pigeon only reinforced it. Despite being attacked by people and having to constantly deal with annoying children, the pigeon still does its own thing and does what they want and feel. I feel like Earnestine already knew that but to hear it from her father changed her view. It seemed like she always enjoyed her father and her music but never had a deep talk because he was always out. For her to see her father understand and also seeming forever lonely when he just sat there and watched the pigeons, it was impactful and made Earnestine know she wasn’t alone.

 

In the end, I was happy for Earnestine. While she will always have insecurities about her beauty and differences from the norm, it seemed that she was starting to accept it. This was a major change from the beginning and it has you rooting for her, especially when she understands her sexual desires and makes love to Xiomara.

Otherness and Self Acceptance

In the short fictional piece “Blue Talk and Love” by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, adolescent girl Earnestine struggles with many different aspects of her identity. Race, social class, sexual identity, and heritage are all issues that she struggles with on a personal level throughout the piece, while she simultaneously deals with her insecurities about love and family.

After reading this story, I don’t really think I have much to add. Sullivan uses the character of Earnestine to highlight the difficulties of being someone who deviates slightly from what is considered normal. Because she is not white, Earnestine struggles with the fact that she cannot meet the white beauty standards placed upon her by her peers. Because she doesn’t appear to be attracted to men, she struggles to fit into her own perceptions of what a girl her age should act and feel like. She doesn’t feel the connection to her heritage that her mother wants her to have.  All of these elements of her life create a sense of constant tension, and Sullivan uses this as a means to communicate in a subtle and melancholy manner what it’s like to be a part of that taboo category of “other.”

I think that the ending of the short story demonstrated a kind of self acceptance on Earnestine’s part. Her conversation with her father, in which he told her that even though she’s not like her peers she still has worth, set something off in Earnestine. After her conversation with her father, she was able to understand her relationship with Xiomara much more clearly. Instead of feeling jealousy and resentment towards her, Earnestine seemed to have a kind of quiet understanding that what she really felt was affection and longing for Xiomara. It is heavily implicated in the ending that Earnestine and Xiomara had a sexual encounter, thus solidifying Earnestine’s self acceptance.

Implication over Explanation

In Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s “Blue Talk and Love,” there is no explicit definition of Earnestine’s sexuality. She is never categorized as a lesbian, or even a specific statement establishing her attraction towards women. In fact, many could read it as a side plot, not the focus of the story. This implication over explanation significantly helps the narrative of the story; for many young people, they do not start identifying themselves with labels, but rather with feelings.

In a large portion of modern media, sexuality and attraction are shown as defining characteristics of life and personality, but for many people they are not the primary motivations of life. Because of this, modern media often depict queer people as being defined almost solely by their sexuality, instead of being people who differ slightly from the “norm.” As a result, media is often inaccurate in addressing queer people as actual people.

In “Blue Talk and Love,” however, the short narrative explores many aspects of Earnestine’s life, only one of which is her sexuality. As the narrator reflects on other aspects of her life, such as her mother’s church, her father’s daytime disappearances, and her standoffishness towards her peers, she does not generally consider it with the label of sexuality, instead focusing on her other problems. Her sexuality does not solely define her personality, and is instead merely one aspect of her.

This representation of implication is far more accurate to real life and people than most modern media, giving the story a more impactful story and ending.

Do blue talk and love always go together?

In “Blue Talk and Love” by Mecca Sullivan  Earnestine explores and experiences many different kinds of unconventional love in her life from her parents tumultuous marriage to her infatuation with her neighbor and peer Xiomara. As opposed to most of the articles we’ve read thus far, this piece is fictional but often I find that fiction can portray truths better than factual statements. Her style is borders on lyrical and has many lengthy descriptions.

When comparing herself to her peers, Earnestine feels as if she doesn’t live up to the white beauty standards around her which perpetuate that being white and thin is beautiful. Her male classmates often make fun of her for the way she looks. On the other hand, her father tells her that her appearance doesn’t matter, what matters is that she has soul. She often compares herself to Xiomara who is stereotypically beautiful and who is universally adored by boys at school and feels insignificant.

Her relationship with Xiomara is very personal and the time they spend together is intimate. She “felt that she and Xiomara were alone in a secret tropical cave beneath a post-apocalyptic city sometime around the year 2020–an impossible distance away.” (23) Spending time with Xiomara allows her to escape her reality. By the end of the story its implied that Xiomara and Earnestine have some kind of romantic or sexual relationship.

She often observes her parents fighting at home and “It was the small hidden questions of her parent’s lives that scared her.” (32) The communication issues between them are apparent. Her father often plays music after their fights and he plays September but “It was a ballad, a relentless tale of loss that brought to mind all of the things she feared most about love, and made her wonder how people managed to grow up at all.” (34) She doesn’t seem to understand how people fall in love or stay in love since her parents aren’t in love anymore. The connection between “blue talk and love” symbolizes how often with love there is sadness accompanied with it.