I know that it has been a while since my last diversity. And I know that I am about to offend a lot of people. It is not my intent, but it’s bound to happen. I was scrolling through my tumbr feed and came across an interesting article. It was originally posted on the DIYA – Diversity in YA blog, but it was linked back to an article on the Lee and Low Website. In case you don’t know, Lee and Low is a publisher that focuses on publishing works that focus on POC in science fiction. Here’s the link to the article, which is actually a response to a writer with a question about writing cross-culturally.
First, I would have to say that I agree with Whitman’s response, wholeheartedly. It depends on the culture of the character, more than the culture of the reader. I hate when I am talking to someone who is speaking in ebonics, or the more politically correct black vernacular English. I know that is a trait of where you grew up, but to me it just makes you sound uneducated. But, the truth is that there is a large portion of people who do not agree. But with writing, it all comes down to the authenticity of the character. Just as there should be a purpose for murder, rape, suicide and violence in a story, there should be a purpose in using ebonics.
As far as writing cross-culturally- I’m all about it. If it is done with the intent of being true to the character and not derogatory to the race. When I first started out, I noticed that most of my characters were white and with that all of my writing sounded off. I don’t know anything about being white and it was all weird trying to get the dialogue and mannerisms right. I knew all about being the only black girl in a white group, and my characters were a blend of my experiences and someone I made up in my head. In a word-inauthentic. And if black people are offended that a white person is writing about a black person, my only advice is shut up and tell your own story!
Writing feedback is important. But, from my experience writing groups are not. I had a bad experience with the last one I was in, and my writing has improved since I left it. One of the problems that I ran into was that the members were not big science fiction/speculative fiction and that’s what genre most of my writing fell into. So, you can’t really get relevant feedback if the readers don’t have any experience with what you’re writing.