I'm sure everyone's first thought is, "Yes, and what happens when you write a white character and you're a "Protagonist of Color"? Larry Correia, the Portuguese author, I'm sure talked to plenty of his nearest and dearest white friends to come up with half of the MHI family.
And if you believe that one...
I suspect this is either under the notice of Larry Correia to fisk, or that it's too stupid for him to burn the brain cells on it.
However, I've got plenty of time, and I'm not using a lot of my brain cells, so...
Step One: Ask Yourself WhyWhy am I fisking you? Because you're insulting and a moron. But mostly because you're insulting.
Why are you writing this book?To be paid to be entertaining. Duh. Like most people.
Why have you decided to write a protagonist whose background is different from your own?Because that's every other person on the face of the planet.
No, seriously, every single person grew up in a family different from mine. Unless there are many Thomist philosophy professors married to microbiologists who then raised a historian, and whose family Christmas film is Die Hard. I think I'm unique. Thanks.
Is it because you want to make the world a better place?Are you being serious right now, or is it just brain damage? I'm hoping for brain damage. The closest I came to "making the world a better place" is writing A Pius Man, because I'm really sick of historians lying about history. I'm writing because it's fun for me, it entertains other people, and it makes me happy, especially when it makes me money.
Because doing so seems to be the cool new thing?Yes. Writing is so very new. Authors writing about people they are nothing like? That goes back to Homer.
Because you lived for many years in a foreign country and you think that writing about it from that outsider’s perspective is voyeuristic and exploitative?I think that's actually called a National Geographic issue.
And ... you're one of those racists who hated the concept behind Marvel's Iron Fist, aren't you?
Because you have the imagination and understanding to do so? Because you’re the reincarnation of an African king? Because you came across a cool story in the local newspaper and only you can do justice to that story? Because you’ve been part of the community you’re writing about since birth? Because the voice of the character came to you in a dream?Because your meds never kicked in? Because your parents dropped you on your head as a child?
Once you’ve figured out why you’re going to write an Indigenous protagonist or Protagonist of Colour and can explain your motivations clearly you can move onLady, I've only just heard of you and I wish to move on.
Also, at this point, I searched the article for one word: Patterson. If you don't mention James Patterson (white guy) writing Alex Cross (long running, bestselling black character) isn't worth a mention in this article, I already know that you're not to be taken seriously, because you haven't taken a serious look at any characters written by anyone of a different race.
Okay, I didn't take you seriously from the title of the post, so there's that.
Step Two: ResearchI think what she means to add here is "Because I am a soulless monstrosity devoid of all empathy."
Writing from the point of view of someone from a community that gets less representation in mainstream culture than your own is hard.
Especially when what representation they do get is largely negative and/or stereotyped.Stereotyped. Uh huh. I'm sorry, do you think that white folk are going to take notes on race from Birth of a Nation? Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I'm sure you're one of those people who wouldn't want me to take notes on Black Lives Matter by watching Ferguson or Baltimore devolve into race riots -- or note that Shaun King, white guy passing for black, was one of the BLM leaders.
You know, facts.
If you do not know people in that community, and have not spent time in that community, it will be an uphill battle to write from that point of view believably.Because I can't possibly imagine living in a place where diverse and multicultural lands are. Oh wait, I live in Queens, with 167 ethnic groups that speak 117 different languages. Or was it 167 different languages spoken by 117 different ethnic groups?
Which is why you must research.Oh, thank you, oh font of wisdom, I never would have imagined doing that without you telling me to do that.
Oh, wait, sorry, I'm a historian and a writer. I can't write anything without having done at least an hour of research. And that's just to make certain that I get the right ballistics on the right weapon. It would never occur to me to research anything else.
No, really, do you even write, lady?
As much as you can avoid accounts written by outsiders—all you’ll learn is how outsiders see them, not how they see themselves.Yes, because the people within the community have no reason at all to make themselves look better than they are, or misrepresent themselves in any way.
You know, like Margaret Mead's book Growing up in Samoa was based on the research of two adolescent girls who made up whatever lies would sound good to the left-leaning feminist who wanted to paint Samoa as a feminist paradise among noble savages. It came from the natives, therefore it must have been true. Right?
Nah. No reason why anyone would make stuff up.
... Ow, I just rolled my eyes too hard. I may have sprained something.
Read books written by the people of that community. Watch TV and movies created by them. Look at what they write about themselves on social media. Listen to their podcasts.Wow, that's ...
I'm sorry, does this creature realize what that does? I mean, good God, would this person really want me to base my impressions on the black community by what's written by Spike Lee?
And social media and podcasts ... she does realize that most people seem to distort themselves, reality, and at least mildly exaggerate personal and community traits on social media and podcasts? Does this even occur to her?
Confusingly, you will find many of their accounts of themselves and their communities contradictory.No! Really? I'm shocked. Shocked I say... no, not really. The only thing shocking about that is that you were so stupid you feel like you have to state it.
Take a moment to think about that. Is it really confusing to have a wide range of opinions within the one community?
Consider the histories and novels that have been written about your community. It’s likely they’re every bit as contradictory. There is no completely unified community that agrees about everything. You know, other than, say, The Borg.
Ask the people you know well in that community questions. Listen to their answers.No. I thought if I was going to ask anyone anything, I'd completely ignore them. Twit.
Though I've got a friend of mine in Crown Heights. Pleasant black woman. Very nice. She's also a pagan dominatrix who's held jobs as a midwife, medical assistant and massage therapist, whose views on Jews border on anti-semitism, and who read Gilgamesh for fun, and made certain her son read Lord of the Rings when he was 9. I'm sure she's perfectly representative of the community on Northern Parkway. Right? That can't possibly go wrong...
If you don’t know anyone well from the community you’re writing about go back to step one, Why are you writing this book?I don't know anyone in Italy, and yet I wrote A Pius Man. Does that mean I shouldn't have bothered, or can I get away with it because I'm white? Because "white" is a universal cultural constant all by itself?
Do not jump onto social media to ask strangers about their community. Though some may be kind enough to respond it is not their job to teach you.But if I have friends, it would be their job to teach me?
So, should my black friends be asking me about my community, am I obligated to teach them? Because I'll be waiting to take that call. Oh wait, they don't have to, because you've completely excluded them from this article, haven't you?
Step Three: Find Sensitivity ReadersOh come on, you have to be yanking my chain right now. Sensitivity readers? Traumatic Brain Injury much?
When you have finished your diligent research, and have a complete manuscript you’re happy withNo, I thought I would just jump in and half-ass it, whether I'm happy with it or not. God, you're making my brain hurt.
you need to have people from the community you’ve chosen to represent look at your book.I'm sorry, I don't know many people in the Sudan. Or San Francisco. Or France. Or many of the other places I set my novels. You realize I have only one novel that's really a "New York" book, right?
Oh, dang it, there I go again, thinking that a "community" meant neighborhoods and the people in them. You mean "random minority #3."
Approach these readers in good faith and pay them for their work. Because it is hard work.You're kidding me, right? Because if someone came to me, and said, "Free book, it takes place in your neighborhood, want to read it?" I should decline, and insist that they pay me for it, because it's just so hard to figure out if my general area has been misrepresented, even though I grew up here and lived here for decades?
Oh wait, I could tell if they didn't described the cracks in the sidewalk properly.
Also, writers with money ... does it grow on trees on your planet?
Outside of my books with multiple protags, I now only write white protagonists because I realised that I was part of the problem of lack of diversity in YA, not the solution.
There are books by white writers with PoC protagonists that are loved by some people in those communities.Go ahead, name one. Please. Be my guest. Say James Patterson. Come on. Say it. Saaaayyyy iiiiiitttt.
But I think we white writers can do more good by calling attention to the books by PoC and Indigenous writers and by thinking about PoC and Indigenous readers.
In answering the question of why you want to write a book about someone else’s community try to think of those readers before you think about yourself. Think about who is better qualified to tell their stories: you or them?
Misusing Sensitivity ReadersOooo, kinky.
In the last few years I have heard multiple stories about white writers in the YA, Romance and SFF communities misusing and abusing sensitivity writers.
Writers who have employed sensitivity readers in bad faith, only wanting these readers to give them the Indigenous or PoC seal of approval. Spoiler: there is no such thing.
White people do not have to take on two identities to survive in a hostile society.Spoken like a human being who has never hung out with a person who has ever held an idea in her head even slightly dissimilar to those around her.
No, honestly lady, what echo chamber do you live in that you think this is true? Again -- Catholic conservative in New York City. Trust me, learning camouflage is a survival skill. As is knowing how to interact with the Bhuddists on my block, the Black Baptists down the street from the Hispanic parish (which is my parish, by the way), and having polite conversations with Hasidim a mile north and hoping you don't piss them off because you support Israel.
So, sure, lady, "white people" know nothing about being a world that could be hostile to them.
Our society is not hostile to white people.Define "our." I've gotten dirty looks in Harlem, and stared at like an alien in Chinatown. I have to watch my tongue every time I'm out in public, lest I get the wrong political activist trying to assault me because I have different ideas. And it's not because I'm "white," it's because I live in a world that doesn't tolerate dissent.
Here her footnote generously includes fat people.
Though it can certainly be hostile to other parts of our identities as many white women and most LBGTIQA and disabled and poor and working class and fat whites can attest. But our society is not hostile to our whiteness.In this offhand dismissal, I guess that parts of New York society just hates other parts of my identity, and really and truly loves my whiteness. I must defend it with my life, lest they skin me for it.
Where the hell is this corner of the universe in which "white people" are some magical master race and have "power" over all they survey? Because this is just getting surreal now. Because Shaun King (a BLM leader) passes for black, even though he's white. And the less said about Rachel Dolezal the better.
... If "society" is not hostile to being white, then why would "whites" pass for anything else?