Friday, 21 February 2014
Writing people of color when white:
Or how writing anything that could be remotely considered writing about a person of color is considered "good enough" by default in so-called inclusive white majority communities.
I've noticed that if a white writer includes a person of color in their writing and says the right things when talking about race and racism in progressive white majority communities, they are immediately considered to be "inclusive" writers, without the actual writing ever being examined or even read.
An example would be the individual who came into a writing group I belonged to, in order to complain about how someone they'd allowed to write a short story based on their PoC character had wrote the character as a race card player, cue outrage, how dare someone butcher someone elses character like that and ruin how inclusive it was, clearly the second writer was a terrible racist.
Here's the thing though: Nobody but me bothered to read the original story, they just assumed the outraged author must have written an inclusive character due to being angry about it and saying the right things. Even after I suggested people read it? They refused.
Fact is the second writer had simply reproduced the first's incredibly racist characterisation. The PoC in question wasn't a character, they simply existed to call other character's racist, they never had a non-race related conversation or had any actual characterisation beyond "I'm PoC and RACISM", and even in situations where they would have had a point about race being a factor? The writer was so hamfisted that the character ended up coming off as race card playing. It was about as nuanced as a brick to the face quite frankly.
This is the thing, in progressive space much of the time white 'progressive' people don't read it when a white person writes a PoC character, we all just nod and assume it's well done, after all they're one of us, one of the "good" white people. Exception: if someone the progressive space regards as a leader takes the time to read it and declares it awfully racist, then we might read it or blanket condemn it.
Same goes for other oppressions, we all default assume that those in the progressive space with us are progressive (unless we dislike them) and therefore dismiss it when others say they fucked up.