I’m going to need to be careful with this one. It pisses me off, and thus I might be prone, were I not careful, to say something less nice than I ought to. It must be noted that the decision to pull her book came from author Alexandra Duncan. She was not forced to do it by anyone, although she did make the decision after other people gave her hell about it. What were they giving her hell over, exactly? That she, a white woman, had the audacity to write a story about a minority character. The author lamented her “own limited worldview as a white person” and admitted that “the fact that I did not see the signs of the problem with my book’s premise in my research or conversations about the book is evidence that I was not the right person to try to tell this story. I am deeply ashamed to have made a mistake of this magnitude and hope my actions will not negatively affect the cause of bringing greater diversity to children’s literature.” Well, she’s right. She most certainly is not the right person to tell whatever story this is—but it has nothing to do with her being white. It is incumbent upon an author—and I’m speaking as one—if said author is going to write from the point of view of a character belonging to another group than oneself, to be as accurate as possible, to do the necessary research, and to write with respect for that character’s background. Absolutely this is necessary. If Ms. Duncan failed to do that, then she rightly should feel “deeply ashamed.”
The view, taken to its extreme, that a white author should never write a minority character is horseshit. Worse than that, its dangerous horseshit. Myopic, divisive, demagogic, extremist, idea-repressing, thought-policing, communication-impeding, authoritarian, casuistic horseshit.
I’m not a werewolf, but I wrote a story about one. (THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, which you can enjoy in installments right here on this site.) I’m not Catholic, either. Christopher is. I’m not Greek. He is. Ah, but he’s Caucasian, so there’s no problem, then, right? So it’s all about his skin pigmentation? You can’t write from the point of view of a character who doesn’t have the same skin pigmentation as you do? In addition to all those other adjectives I used to describe this particular species of horseshit, I have another to add to it: racist. Such a notion is racist.