[DWJ] McKinley and racism (WAS recommendations)

Martha Hixon marthahixon at gmail.com
Tue Jul 30 20:04:18 EDT 2013

I wasn't offended, Erika, no worries. But it is a derogatory racial term,
even when a white person uses it. Given that, I was surprised to see it
casually used and I just assumed it meant something else overseas (not
knowing where you live, of course, and knowing this is an international
list). It's like hearing a woman call other women "bitches" in casual
conversation, for example--startling.

At any rate, yes, that is why Master has black skin in the beginning, but
the fact still remains that he isn't marriageable material for Mirasol
until that blackness is disposed of. That's pretty troubling, as is the
fact that she thinks of him always as "Master" and the fact that only
someone born to the bloodline that owns the demense can be the rightful
ruler and keep everything in balance. I actually do like McKinley's books
in general, but this book really bothered me on those bits, though I do
love the bees. Hm, so could associating red hair and fair skin with demon
blood be seen as an insult to the Irish?

Just to continue this thought, the fact that the little mermaid has to
change her ethnicity in order to be acceptable to her love interest (a
human white male), both in Andersen's story and especially in the Disney
film, is also troubling. As is Bella's obsession with becoming a vampire in
order to have Edward, etc.


Dr. Martha P. Hixon
Department of English
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
615-898-2599 / martha.hixon at mtsu.edu

On Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM, erikagillian at gmail.com <
erikagillian at gmail.com> wrote:

> I never thought about Chalice that way, and yes it could be seen that way.
>  I think, though, the black skin was because of living in fire, so more
> lime charcoal black, but you're right, could be a very bad implication.
> That motif, of a white person showing up and solving everything, is what I
> meant.  I don't think TV Tropes calls it by the name I used anymore but
> other people do.  I'm afraid I've never found that word offensive (being
> white and American) so I'm not careful how I use it.  I'm sorry if I've
> offended or hurt anyone.
> Generally it's Blue Sword that gets the criticism and not Hero and the
> Crown as much.  Probably both the colonialism in Blue and the fact the
> light skin and red hair general meant demon blood in Hero.  But I've seen
> interesting discussions of both.
> Martha Hixon <marthahixon at gmail.com> wrote:
> >ah, thanks. I'd forgotten those descriptions from the Damar books,
> >actually, it's been so long since I've read them.
> >
> >I wonder what McKinley would think of that interpretation. She has said in
> >the past that these early books in particular were projections of her own
> >desire for heroic fantasy with heroines she could identify with, and she
> >herself is of course white. She does write romantic fantasy that is, I
> >think, projected from a very personal inner place for her. I am certainly
> >not defending the racist tinge of the books, just musing over it. I myself
> >was rather troubled by this same issue in *Chalice,* where at the
> >end, SPOILER ALERT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> >
> >the main love interest (almost always referred to by the female main
> >character as Master, by the way, which also gives me uncomfortable vibes),
> >who is clearly described as having black skin at the beginning of the
> book,
> >is transformed into a light-skinned man before Mirasol and he are allowed,
> >narratively speaking, to get married. So, it seems to be an ongoing theme
> >for her.
> >
> >I don't think I'd recommend McKinley for a 10 year old at all. A teen,
> yes,
> >despite the unintended racism.
> >
> >Martha
> >
> >Dr. Martha P. Hixon
> >Department of English
> >Middle Tennessee State University
> >Murfreesboro, TN 37132
> >615-898-2599 / martha.hixon at mtsu.edu
> >
> >
> >On Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 3:43 PM, Dorian E. Gray <dorianegray at gmail.com
> >wrote:
> >
> >> Martha said...
> >>
> >> Gillian,
> >> >
> >> > just wondering: in reference to McKinley's Damar books, what do you
> mean
> >> by
> >> > ""it's a bit of a what they need is a honky"? Here in the States,
> "honky"
> >> > is a derogatory racist term for a white person. I'm sure that's not
> what
> >> > you mean, but I can't figure out your sentence :-).
> >> >
> >>
> >> It probably is what the OP means, actually.  The Damarians are
> described as
> >> being dark-haired and brown-skinned (and are fairly blatantly, in "The
> Blue
> >> Sword", equivalent to our-world Indian), while the heroines of both "The
> >> Blue Sword" and "The Hero and the Crown" are pale-skinned foreigners.
>  The
> >> books could be read as "those darkies can't sort out their own problems,
> >> better get a whitey to sort things out for them".
> >>
> >> Until the sky falls on our heads...
> >>
> >> Dorian.
> >> --
> >> dorianegray at gmail.com
> >>
> >> "The Imperial Service could win a war without coffee, but would prefer
> not
> >> to have to."
> >> -- Lois McMaster
> >> Bujold<http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16094.Lois_McMaster_Bujold
> >,
> >> * Captain Vorpatril's Alliance<
> >> http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/18158616>
> >> *
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