[DWJ] Mark Reads Deep Secret

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Wed Mar 19 09:05:52 EDT 2014


On Wed, 19 Mar 2014, es at historicalfact.com wrote:

> I feel quite defensive and wanting to go and explain! I don't want people
> thinking DWJ has deliberately been racist?

Racism isn't about deliberate action, though. That's one of the beliefs that makes fighting racism so difficult -- somebody points out that something had a racist effect, and people respond as if that's the same as an accusation of somebody being a neo-Nazi. The important thing about making racism going away isn't recognizing the wickedness in peoples' hearts, but about recognizing the effects of racism in the world.

DWJ, who lived in the same crappy racist world at the rest of us, was subject to the same unexamined prejudices that all humans have. I can easily point to multiple places in her books where she drew from and contributed to ethnic stereotypes *cough* Castle in the Air *cough* -- not because there was racism in her heart, because we know what a wonderful person she was, but because she lived in the same world full of stereotypes and racism that we all do, and we all screw up sometimes. The trick about asking people to be careful about language is that it makes them have, well, conversations exactly like this one, where people think about what might be causing harm in the world and do their best to avoid it.

My understanding is that many Roma people consider all derivations of "gypsy" to be based on an offensive ethnic slur.  In this case, more to the point, it's specifically drawing on stereotypes -- what does "gypsyish" mean, if it's not drawing on romantic stereotypes of what it means to be Roma? It's the same way many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations people find it just as offensive when non-Natives romanticize the natural, shamanistic, primitive, and of course dead romantic Indian of the imagination as when hipsters wear headresses or hugely profitable sports teams are named after ethnic slurs.

That being said, I am neither a regular on that site, nor do I know anyone Roma, so here is a barrel of salt with which to take my words.

-deborah




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