Thank you for this analysis.
I find that when discussing this topic, people often focus on the right of the person to write outside of culture, and you’ve done this, which is important.
What is rarely discussed is opportunity: the fact that when a white person takes liberties with another culture, they have greater opportunity to be published even with lesser experience about the topic. This is an outgrowth of privilege and white supremacy which has nothing to do with the right to write about another culture: it has to do with the automated greater opportunity that white people — in particular white women — have when it comes to publishing and the publishing industry.
White women dominate this industry, one of the most cogent examples of the power of white supremacy, yet they frequently frame themselves as victims, which distracts from the central facts: POC of all genders are at a disadvantage due to white women dominance of most arena of publishing.
An example of this behavior in which the writer actually admits her privileging (apparently without realizing it), is Zink (American white female) and the book Mislaid. In this book, Zink takes a white woman and her daughter and creates a world in which they pretend to pass as black. During the course of this book, Zink’s very superficial take on race is obvious, over and over again. She deflects this criticism by using the convenient word ‘satire,’ as if any attempt at satire could compensate for depth and consideration, neither of which she shows, and will somehow erase her slapdash and uninformed treatment of the topic (which it doesn’t.)
In interviews, she admits that she wrote this book as ‘agent bait’ because she thought the topic of race would be provocative and help sell her books. Then, she admits literally begging Jonathan Franzen, who showed some interest in another of her books, to garner her as much publicity as possible for her, again so that she could sell these books (which were apparently not at the time.) What could be a better example of using white supremacy?! This is a white woman who already had social advantage yet, when that wasn’t enough, proactively used a famous white male author to do the work for her. I note that POC would have to go back to the book and actually improve the writing, because we don’t have access to the dictates of white supremacy by making a quick call to a famous author. How about just writing a better book?!
I use the example of this author because it illustrates that, even when white women are overt about using appropriation to succeed AND when they treat the topic with flippant disregard, they are still rendered successful — this is the degree of favoritism that white women garner. This author put white supremacy to work for her and didn’t even bother hiding it: she didn’t need to, because her degree of privileging as a white woman is so extreme that she can flaunt it.
This sort of obvious immorality is part and parcel of a white supremacist society, and it points to why appropriating others’ lives is a form of opportunity-quashing for POC’s who have actually lived the experience. Why can’t these people just write a book about their own backgrounds?