[DWJ] McKinley and racism (WAS recommendations)

Ellen Willcox eawil3 at email.wm.edu
Thu Aug 1 20:55:11 EDT 2013

Great points re:  characters with disabilities.  I have to ask:  have you
read The King's General by Daphne du Maurier?  Almost certainly the most
awesome protagonist with a disability I've ever read.  Plus, it's
historical fiction, so it's based on a real person!  A real, amazing person
who stood up to a king and secretly freed prisoners and carried on a
sweeping love affair with the Royalists' most notorious general before and
during the English civil war, and who just happened to be paraplegic.  I
highly recommend it.

- Nic

On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 12:48 PM, <deborah.dwj at suberic.net> wrote:

> On Wed, 31 Jul 2013, Gin wrote:
>> Though strangely, I could see that argument if you were talking about
>> differently-abled people, rather than POC. Does that  seem reasonable, or
>> am I being blinded by my own prejudice?
> I wouldn't say that metaphorical disability represented by magical people
> is any less problematic. Differently problematic, perhaps.
> People with disabilities, like people of color, are used are not seeing
> ourselves in books except in very specific roles, such as:
> * Very special person with a disability who is there to teach a lesson to
> a teen who is in need of a lesson.
> * Wicked, physically deformed villain (e.g. Voldemort).
> * Fantasy or Science Fiction protagonist who will get Magically Healed as
> reward.
> * Teen with a disability in a book about Living With Disability and
> Overcoming Limitations.
> Etc. We don't end up just being  characters who go on adventures or have
> love stories or save the world from the evil Mr. Chesney very often.
> Representing otherness through metaphor has its use. I'm thinking of the
> X-Men comics, which over the decades have used the treatment of mutants
> varyingly as metaphors for race, queerness, and disability. It can be a
> good way of shining a light on societal issues we sometimes don't otherwise
> see.
> But there's no substitute for actually just representing the diversity of
> humanity in books. It's not just so readers will get to see themselves in
> books -- although that's huge; black female NASA astronaut Mae Jemison has
> said her inspiration from becoming an astronaut was seeing Nyota Uhura on
> Star Trek and realizing she *could* be one -- but also so that everyone
> else will see a world in which people with disabilities, people of color,
> queer people, etc just exist. Like we do.
> -deborah
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