[DWJ] McKinley and racism (WAS recommendations)

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Tue Jul 30 20:21:12 EDT 2013

On Tue, 30 Jul 2013, erikagillian at gmail.com wrote:

> 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.

The idiom certainly is alive and well in certain online social justice circles, and speaks to the larger trope which is *really* common. Think Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai, Kingdom of Heaven etc. for the explicit version, but it also comes through with clear mappings from F & SF worlds onto contemporary racial stereotypes, which is why a lot of people included, say, James Cameron's Avatar.  It's a sort of modern lens onto a romantic, Orientalist White Man's Burden.

While looking for examples, I found a great list at the description of this Wiscon panel: <http://oyceter.livejournal.com/602541.html>. Which made me sad because it reminded me of how very much Tamora Pierce's Trickster books are part of the trope. Which is just not fair, because I love them, but why oh why couldn't they have been Dove's story and not Aly's?

Martha Hixon <marthahixon at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

It's rough, you know? Authors live in the same effed up world as the rest of us, and are no more immune to (conscious or unconscious) bias and prejudice than the rest of us. Most of the authors I know worry a *lot* about perpetuating sterotypes, especially in the "punch down" sense; most of them get called on the sterotypes they miss, and at least *try* to be gracious and learn for the next book.

It wouldn't even be that much of a point if the publishing industry (at least in the US) weren't so, so unwilling to take a chance on authors of color. The stats of the number of children's books about people of color written by people of color are appalling (<http://ccblogc.blogspot.com/2013/07/last-week-i-posted-mid-year-statistics.html>). The absence of a diversity of voices means that a smaller set of voices -- and therefore a smaller set of (conscious or unconscious) biases carry disproportionate weight.


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