[DWJ] McKinley and racism (WAS recommendations)

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Wed Jul 31 12:48:07 EDT 2013

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.


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