Lately there is a narrative in America (white majority) that paints white people as being demonized and unfairly painting nonwhite people (primarily Black people) as victims. (Yes, I repeated people a lot. It’s deliberate.)
This is a false and dangerous narrative.
Just because your favorite comic book character has been replaced with a nonwhite actor is not a personal attack on you or the race you belong to. There have been incidences when this has indeed been the case though for marginalized groups. Have you heard of history, dear?
Just because publishing houses and movie producers are asking for more diversity doesn’t mean they intend to do it well or that they sincerely want it. There’s a thing called “virtual signaling” and the illusion of diversity when stereotypes and tired tropes and cliché are repackaged as something sparkly and new. Consider what often unravels behind the scenes and off-camera.
Just because there has been an increase in Black creators producing Black-centered shows doesn’t mean that they always have good intentions for their community and art as a whole.
The love of money and all that.
Social media is often a toxic place that perpetuates and cements false narratives and false equivalences. Illogical arguments are difficult to dismantle if people lack knowledge or the empathy to listen, learn, and act.
But what if this obtuseness is by design? Deliberate even?
My mind has been a beehive of activity regarding such matters and the most recent inciting incident was when I was blocked from AmWritingFantasy FaceBook Page. I rarely visit there. As an introvert, I rarely visit any groups because I find most interactions empty, flat, and stale.
That said, authors have the responsibility to learn and understand words and their meanings. Authors should strive to be wordsmiths. A wordsmith is a skilled user of words. Words are used to explain, elaborate, equate, defend, counter, and so much more.
Which brings me to words regarding identity.
Hispanic vs Latin American
Oftentimes the words Hispanic and Latina/o (people from Latin America) are used interchangeably as if they mean the same thing, but any wordsmith worth their Scrabble knows that’s not the case.
To simplify, Latin America is more about “location” and not all Latin Americans speak Spanish. That’s a myth. A stereotype. An ignorant oversight. For example, Brazilians speak Portuguese, but are classified as Latin Americans. Technically, even Haiti, due to its location is considered a part of Latin America. I remember once a fellow teacher (but not a friendly fellow teacher) aggressively telling me that her student’s report on Haiti (where my father is from) is accurate when I told her that Haiti’s official language isn’t Spanish. She didn’t believe me until I told her about Dad, who is trilingual. That’s perhaps a story for another day. Ugh.
Now to some more ignorant stuff:
Words are important and writers wield words. (Oh my gosh, did you see my awesome and alluring alliteration?!)
So, I don’t understand why this author said that even if she was white, she doesn’t have to identify as white. 😦 The last time I checked, my reading comprehension was pretty decent and if I didn’t read that correctly . . . Father God help me! What the heck does that even mean? I mean really, what does that mean?! It reminds me of Rachel Dolezal and Jessica Krug all over again. Why? Because they thought it was better for them to have an appearance of nonwhiteness to get ahead in the world. What bothers me about this is I was accused of telling this person how to identify, which really pissed me off. How is that the case when she admitted it herself?
Also, what does it matter? Should it matter? What the heck is going on? Rhetorical question: Is there something wrong with being white? Did I miss a bloody memo?
Ironically (or wait is it poetic justice — lol – I have no idea; so tired of trifling two-faced people), a white man came to save her from moi, the giant, (5’2” by the way) evil aggressor:
The history behind Latino, Hispanic, Chicano, and Latinx has a layered and nuanced history. Check it out. And like the Black community, some of the names used to describe these groups were not their choice! A lot of these decisions are and were just steeped in white hegemony, creating wedges and division where there shouldn’t be!
Is this a part of the equation?
For me, what transpired in the Am Writing Fantasy group–one tiny section of FB Land–reminds me of this quote, which can be uncannily applied to other marginalized groups and their traumatic experiences:
So, here’s my $0.02.
Just because someone is white doesn’t mean they can’t write a book with diverse characters.
Just because you are nonwhite doesn’t prevent you against racism or colorism. For instance, I know a lot of white-passing people that identify as nonwhite. You do you, boo. But, don’t imply or state that your struggle is equivalent to mine.
Basically, claiming nonwhiteness doesn’t give anyone a free pass to be a self-serving, facetious grifter pretending to care about diversity because you think it’s something “popular” or “trendy”. Diversity is not a trend. People of color exist and so have our stories. If this shade does not apply to you, forget about it, and keep pushing.
I am tired of the media focusing only on our murders by law enforcement and domestic terrorists. I am tired of decent books like Tiny Pretty Things being twisted and bent into something unrecognizable on the television screen.
- What happened to the main Asian character, June? 😦
- What happened to the other main character, Gigi’s (now Naveah) heart condition? Why do some Netflix writers in the Writer Room have to add trauma, poverty, adversity admissions, and “The Struggle” to Black characters. 😦
For many many many many MANY effing years white authors have been able to write about themselves and EVERYBODY ON THIS EFFING PLANET. In more recent times, there has been a call for diverse and marginalized populations to write about themselves. I have wrote several posts about diversity, #ownvoices, cultural appropriation vs appreciation, and what irritates me is when other authors jump on social media and ask how they should go about doing it and then in the same breath comment, “Well, I don’t identify as white so, but, and, …” What is the point of such posts? I don’t understand it. Is it because they think they’ll be demonized and “cancelled” if they don’t post this question? And don’t slip into a mantle of nonwhiteness or something? What IS IT?
There are plenty of authors that have been deemed problematic by the Bookish community and they still seem to be going on strong.
The above authors did receive backlash, but it was temporary. They are still creating and making money. On a regular basis, authors like Stephen King have been deemed as problematic one day and then . . . the “drama” fizzles out as if it has been sucked up by Its deadlights.
If cancel culture is indeed a natural thing then why does it play out as capricious as a hurricane leaving some individuals looking like scorched, barren earth and others resembling this unscathed and intact home below?
Chrisette Michele – “A black R&B artist hoped singing for Trump would build ‘a bridge.’ It derailed her career instead.”
Candace Owens – A diehard Trump supporter that has weaponized her own internal anti-Blackness to harm people that don’t think like her” has said incredibly anti-Semitic and hurtful things and even after she denied that white supremacy is not a major threat facing black America, still secures the bag.
I’m not entirely sure how to answer that question, but it probably has something to do with power structures and totem poles . . . and I’m sure white hegemony is lurking somewhere on each level.
The bottom line for me and at the heart of this matter, is that there are always going to be haters no matter who you are. There will always be someone that will find something that they don’t like about you (for whatever reason) and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than to be true to yourself, your goals, and your purpose.
And for the love of God and all that is chocolate — RESEARCH WORDS, USE THEM RESPONSIBLY, RESPECT AND BELIEVE IN THEIR POWER!
Here’s some more stuff you can read: