…terview in The New York Times, the author stated that censorship can silence voices, which is true. What she failed to address is whether in not voluntarily silencing her particular voice on a subject that may not be entirely her right to tell, she, in turn, has contributed to the silencing of a swath of voices who might best deserve to write it instead. In the final say, hers is not one of the affected voices; she remains a spectator, no matter how mu…
I can appreciate this. The reality is that our default is white: publishing is dominated by white women, and all of our systems favor white people, generally speaking. As a result, her opportunity exists not only in greater amounts than POC’s of all kinds BUT ALSO AT THE EXPENSE OF POC.
The problem, as I see it, is twofold:
- Attempting to write from another’s point of view, which is very difficult, must be done carefully, but is do-able; AND
- Opportunity: white people have more at baseline. This is a reality regardless of Cummins’ individual opinions or views on race, and even if she had actually written a good book. So, it is her anti-racist responsibility to acknowledge that extra privilege and pro-actively allow the actual marginalized voice that opportunity. Anything else is opportunism.
As a POC who is not Mexican, I can’t speak about the cultural details, but I see the opportunism immediately because this white privilege, unacknowledged, has determined my failure and the failure of other POC’s around me for 35 years in my profession. So, I do think POC’s, even non-Mexican, will see the opportunism behind her behavior.
I have seen this in the last few years: these attempts to write from POC POV. It seems much more prevalent than decades ago, which to me points to this opportunism. I wonder what you think of the writer Zink, and her book Mislaid, which she claims took ‘only a few weeks’ to write, and which she wrote as ‘agent bait.’ She admits to begging Franzen to help her become famous, and when he does it, attributes her fame to herself. MY POC writer friends don’t have the option of dialing up famous white male authors every time they don’t feel like revising! Only white people get this Dialing for Dollars option.
This is the sort of opportunism that at least some POC who are in other professions immediately identify. I know less about Mexican culture or writing than I do about discrimination, and I believe when Cummins allows this sort of success, at some level she is stealing from others.
She actually says, in an interview, that she wasn’t going to say ‘no’ to a seven figure advance. This refreshing honesty reveals exactly the face I saw when I started reading this book and about the controversy: opportunism.
It would be an unfortunate distortion of reality for her to see this situation otherwise.