[DWJ] McKinley and racism (WAS recommendations)

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Tue Jul 30 22:14:45 EDT 2013

On Wed, 31 Jul 2013, Gin wrote:

> ODWJ reference...Does DWJ have any black characters? I have just realised I cannot name any. Does DWJ go out  of her way to describe characters as white?

Well, there's Wilkin's Tooth / Witch's Business, which as I recall has a bit of that 1970s Trying to Confront Racism thing going on it, so it hasn't aged so well. Well meaning, certainly.

I had a headdesky moment when a student, in a discussion about the racial balance in F & SF (triggered by Gregory E. Rutledge, "Futurist Fiction & Fantasy The Racial Establishment", Callaloo 24.1 (2001)), explained that it was okay that there were no protagonists of color in Dark Lord of Derkholm because there were griffin characters. It was one of those moments that I hope I handled well but honestly I was so floored I am not sure.

(For what it's worth, there are multiple arguments about race you could make vis-a-vis Derkholm, one of which is that the wider concern, and Rutledge's in particular, is about the genre writ large, and an individual book is always going to be okay; it is what it is.  And I could see readers going both ways on the question of how much Derkholm critiques the racist tropes it depicts in Mr. Chesney's idea of Fantasyland. But "it doesn't need kids of color, it has griffin kids," is... no. Just no.)


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