This topic is . . . complicated. Once upon a time (two years ago to be exact) I wrote a story centering on a bi-ethnic girl (half-Black and half-Japanese). I was told that because I wasn’t Japanese I would receive criticism (as an appetizer to the vitriolic shaming a la meat-tenderizing) to follow. I learned from the wonderful author, Linda Sue Park (A LONG WALK TO WATER) that writing outside of your ethnic group is okay so long as you do it intelligently, sensitively, and knowledgeable. There’s more to it than that and I will most likely write more about my experience and this new trend (yes, please oh please, let this be a passing trend) where even when writers are sincere, passionate, compassionate, and accurate in their story-telling are bullied and shamed into writing self-centered memoirs. Write what you know has taken on a sinister, new meaning. :*(
Persecution is endemic in the vicious world of Young Adult publishing
It was Lionel Shriver who saw the writing on the wall.
Giving a keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival three years ago in which she decried the scourge of modern identity politics, Shriver observed that the dogma of ‘cultural appropriation’ —which demands no less than complete racial segregation in the arts — had not yet wrapped its osseous fingers around the publishing industry.
But, she warned: ‘This same sensibility is coming to a bookstore near you.’
Reader, it has come.