The truth is, I have way more to say about diversity than I care to distil down to 1,000 or 2,000 words — especially after reading Kameron’s eloquent, provocative and drop-dead brilliant rant — one of the most important things I’ve ever read about writing science fiction — Why Writing Colorblind is Writing White. If you’re too lazy to read it, God(dess) help you, but from its most important takeaway for me is that white authors who claim not to think about race in their fiction, or that race doesn’t matter in their universe, or that characters not physically described could be “any race,” are misportraying the experience of reading in order to preserve (as I would put it) a form of white privilege. To my mind, they’re abdicating a central responsibility of the fiction writer.
I would add a few things to that, and to Kameron’s extremely cogent observations.
First, I think white writers who make such claims as “I write colorblind” are often doing it because thinking about race, for them, is uncomfortable and icky.
Hey, who can blame them? I’m white, and thinking about race is uncomfortable and icky for me (which is probably why I do it so often — I’m like that).
It’s so much easier if we white people can just reassure everybody, “You’ll never meet a person less racist than me!” and get on with our lives without having to fuck around with all this bellyaching about privilege, disadvantage, prejudice, and experience.
But it’s only white privilege that allows white writers to see things that way.
White privilege says that there’s a “baseline” human experience in fiction that can be mercifully free of racism — the myth that “escapist” fiction is fiction liberated from social responsibility. In my view, it’s not. White privilege says if you don’t mention a character’s skin tone, then he or she could be of any race, and it won’t matter. But in my view, it does matter what race a character is — concepts of race and ethnic origin suffuse everything that happens in the world, and everything that a character experiences. White people just aren’t aware of it as often. (more…)Read More...