Thursday, April 9, 2020

Cultural What?

One of my novels
I came across this article on Facebook. It was written in the UK Guardian about an American writer, Jeanine Cummins.

The article is about how Cummins, a white author, has written a book called American Dirt about...Hispanic illegal immigrants. Ms. Cummins goal in writing her novel was to make Americans to stop seeing migrants as a "faceless brown mass" and to bear witness to the "tragedy of our making on our southern border" according to the article. So I suspect Ms. Cummins is not exactly a Trump supporter.

But, she has been attacked from the left. She has been accused of "cultural appropriation" because her characters are Mexicans and she isn't. As the Guardian puts it:
[W]riters and artists [are] being called out for having stepped beyond their permitted cultural boundaries to explore themes about people who are not 'fundamentally 'like' us" (Emphasis added)
"Beyond their permitted cultural boundaries," they say. What is a white person's (or a black person's or a brown person's or a yellow person's) "permitted cultural boundaries." As a heterosexual white guy can I only write about straight men of pallor?

One of my first novels, Rock Killer, has a black female main character. Is that beyond my "permitted cultural boundaries?" There's also a Korean-American main character. Is that not "permitted"?

This is important to me because in three of my published novels (The Treasure of Space series) the hero is brown. But, then again, so is most everyone in his world. He is surprised when he comes across a white girl (the one on the cover). The novel is set 3,000 years in the future. There is nothing about him that is related to modern day brown/black people.

It's also important to me because, beyond all else in politics, I believe in liberty.

Now if you're white (or purple or whatever) and writing racist stuff about people of a different color/culture, that's not "cultural appropriation," that's being an asshole.

But it's equally being an asshole (and racist) to tell an artist they can't do something because of their race and/or gender and/or sexual orientation. You might as well say blond people can't write books about brunette people. Or gay writers can't write straight characters. It's ridiculous.

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