Welcome, folks from Blastr

Please mind your manners and wipe your feet before coming in.

Everyone else: sorry, but a couple of people (or one determined person with a lot of time on his hands) have not minded their manners re my last post. Apropos of which, the blog is on moderation — if you’ve commented here before successfully, your comments will be approved. If not, they’ll be held ’til I can get to them. Also, I’ve shut down commenting altogether on older posts — everything past 14 days old. Sorry, ’bout that. I’ll lift the moderation once the children get bored and go away.

10 thoughts on “Welcome, folks from Blastr”

  1. I read the discussion on the X-Men movie with some interest, and a little consternation, but I think my opinions on that specific work are probably best left alone. I’ll let it suffice that I’d agree with most of your points if the story we were discussing had been a new work, not an adaptation of an existing work.

    It raised a question for me that I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on. As I read your post, you seem to be fairly strongly of the opinion that it’s a good thing for works of fiction to present well realized characters from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

    However there also seem to be a considerable number of readers/critics who feel very strongly that writing a character of a minority race/ethnic group represents cultural appropriation if it’s done by a person who happens to be Caucasian. There’s also a strong sense in the argument that if we’re not actually black/Native American/Chinese/etc. we couldn’t possibly get it right, and the failure will inevitably be offensive.

    This seems to be a no-win situation. What’s your take on it?

  2. I do generally try not to ill-wish people, but today I break that rule in the hope that the sad little trolls who have spammed you all develop delicate and embarrassing personal problems of a swelling/blistering/dangling nature, and that this causes them to engage in some sobering emotional reflection which improves their characters. And soon.

  3. Kathryn,

    I think that’s a misunderstanding of the concept of cultural appropriation, honestly. Part of the problem lies in the term itself, because “appropriation” sounds like something that can never be a good thing. Appropriation is theft, plain and simple. But it’s actually not that simple. There are degrees of appropriation; there are power differentials to be considered; there are ways to do it right, or at least less-wrong. There is appropriate appropriation, in other words, and that is what all writers should strive toward.

    I think a lot of writers do what you’re doing — they hear this vague phrase called “cultural appropriation”, they see that people are angry about it, and they think, whoa, that cultural appropriation stuff sounds bad. What they don’t do is dig deeper to figure out why people are angry; they fixate on the anger itself as the problem, rather than trying to understand its roots. They don’t realize that it’s usually because someone has inappropriately appropriated, and that there may be a history of such behavior on the part of a given group (e.g., white Americans writing about American Indians and inserting the Mighty Whitey trope). They also don’t realize that sometimes the people who are angry also don’t fully understand cultural appropriation. That’s when you end up with both sides trying to reduce the discussion to a simplistic binary: Is cultural appropriation OK? Y/N. That’s the wrong question to ask — and I think people ask it because they want a simple solution to the problem. The right question is not whether one should appropriate, but how it can be done with a minimum of harm to all involved.

    So I’ll recommend what I usually recommend: educate yourself. The article I linked above is a good start. There’s lots of tips out there for how to appropriate better, so seek them out.

  4. Thanks for the link. It gives me some interesting questions to consider. I think I’m being careful and respectful, but I’m sure when the book finds a home, there will be people who disagree.

    On the other hand, simply writing the book has already been something of a spiritual journey for me because of the research and thinking I’ve been doing, so it’s been worthwhile.

  5. I do not see so much sense in writing from a white/black/asian whatever perspective because that would imply that there is such a thing. it would imply that white and black is mindset and thats it. but there are many mindsets in one person. he/she can be black in a demonstration against racism, but the next second he/she is upperclass business man with that mindset, or he/she is a lakers fan and not a dallas mavericks fan… and the next she/he is from the westside of town and not from the eastside of town…
    what i am trying to say is that i think it’s wrong in to limit a perspective or a mindset to just the ethnic group.
    you cannot write from a black or white perspective because there is no such thing as just a black or white perspective.

  6. Please see my Informal Comment Policy, particularly the line about me not being interested in having derailing discussions about whether racism exists. Your comment will not be posted.

  7. Whoops — sorry, folks, that last one was a reply to another Blastr-person. I’ve gotten a number of comments over the last few days that don’t merit discussion, and a number of which have failed at basic reading comprehension, so I’ve kept them in the mod queue. Nothing to see here; carry on.

  8. Yona,

    Decided to approve your comment, although it violates my comment policy, because after some consideration I don’t think you were trying to be a troll. Even though you’re using one of the most common and trollish responses to any discussion of racism, which is the false consciousness schtick. In this case it’s false on two levels: a) I never suggested there was such a thing as a black or white or other-race perspective, and I have no idea why you brought that up; if you’ve read this blog for any length of time you’d see that’s the last thing I would ever argue. And b) you seem to be trying to point out that race is a social construct, not a real biological or empirical category. If that is what you’re trying to say, you’re right. Unfortunately, race is a social construct with consequences that affect economics, education, housing, health, and other important elements of, well, life and death. So simply declaring that race doesn’t exist isn’t going to change that. Confronting racism, which very much does exist, will.

  9. i apologize because my comment was not specifically directed at you and i did certainly not want to claim that there is no such thing as racism. at the same time i do not agree or understand all of the points from the article (appropriate appropriation) posted earlier. also, my comment is a comment on what Kathryn posted, if such a thing is a loud. i was kind of speaking publicly , i thought.
    my point was that we could think about appropriation in more ways than just “exotic cultures”. culture is a complex concept that starts with what you watch in tv , at what time you wake up, what you do for work, what you do for sports, how you relate to your friends… and ends probably with geographic borders…
    so, people say, you can’t write a character that is african, you are from europe, and you don’t know nothing about it. i just wanted to add that i am unhappy that people think such a thing would be difficult/impossible/wrong and at the same time have no problem with a middleclass author writing about their neighbours that are workingclass people. or fantasy fans wrting about science-fiction fans, or people that like to stand up at 6am in the morning writing about people that like to sleep till 10am…
    so, rather than saying racism is not a problem, i m just saying that people may be different in thousands of ways and the idea of therefore not writing about other things does not seem to be a solution for me.
    still, of course you are write there is still such things going on as “othering” people that are different in ways of culture. and culture is not something limited to where you come from (locally) but all things that make up the way you live.
    again, this not directed as critique on what you wrote, but just my contribution to ongoing discussion. and i thought this could be a right place for that…

  10. Yona,

    Oh, I see — you were responding to Kathryn, not me. Generally unless you specify who you’re replying to, I assume you’re responding to the OP (which is written by me). I’ll leave those parts for her to respond to, if she’s going to.

    One note, though — the article on Appropriate Cultural Appropriation also says that culture is far more than “exotic” other lands and people, and people are more than their ethnicities. And the article never says that you can’t write a character who’s African if you’re not from somewhere in Africa, etc. So I’m a little confused when you say you don’t understand or agree with the article, when it’s saying the same thing you’re saying.

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