…use every tool at our disposal to shape the power structures in our society into equitable systems. That doesn’t require jumping to the front of the line, trying to wrestle away the reigns for ourselves, and to decide that we can do better than the people who are impacted themselves. It means that we put in our own work, use our own minds to figure out how we can help, and then get behind the people we are supporting. We take responsibility for the discriminatory system we were born into and have furthered. We learn …
Yes! As a mixed POC, I perceive the attempt at writing as an identity other than oneself as a form of opportunism, in particular when the person writing is positioned in a socially dominant place. This is true even if that individual does not harbor active prejudice; the reality of being privileged is in and of itself blinding.
Very few people can write an identity other than their own well, though it has been done. The question for each person to ask when writing from another identity — in particular one which is positioned subordinate to one’s own — is his/her/their motivation.
Unless this person can truly write the story — not just the grammar and sentences, but the actual embedded experience of the story — then opportunism becomes the major mechanism/motive. This is obvious to a wide range of POC’s, inclusive of Marlon James, who feels he must ‘pander to white women’ and our group of 5 WOC in which we have friends and relatives who are writers NOT getting equal opportunity.
If you plan to write more articles like this, please explore the more overt episodes of this behavior: Nell Zink and Mislaid as well as Cummins and American Dirt. These are women who have overtly illustrated their white privilege by making statements which show their opportunism. Zink publicly declared that she wrote the book Mislaid, which many POC’s find superficial and insulting (see Goodreads), as ‘agent bait.’ This is the degree to which these women are privileged: they can overtly admit their opportunism and despite this (or maybe because of it), continue to receive more opportunity.
The fact that they’ve gotten away with it illustrates just how much more privilege these women have. They should be supporting women of color and publications, not trying to make that money which POC’s should be making by writing superficial books.
Here are some examples of flagrant white female privilege within the publishing world:
Talking to Nell Zink About Hefty Advances, Millennial Prudishness, and Her Pen Pal Jonathan Franzen
Nell Zink has an enviable problem. "I've been working hard to find ways to spend money," she told me a few months ago…
Here we have overtly displayed white privilege, complete with discussions about manicures and Lululemon. I know suburban Karens less embarrassing than this!
Thanks again for noticing.