Sunday, January 29, 2006
Fine line between fun and fury
Okay, it's all in good fun, no offense to anyone. My uncle sent it to me, and I felt pretty stupid.
But I thought it might soften my post for today a wee bit.
Yesterday I fired off my congrats to Tess Gerritsen for her Edgar nomination. I actually did that before the blog post went up, so when I went back today to read her blog, I was jolted back into reality.
The reality I don't have to face. Being "white". Not ever having been a minority. Only being an "outsider" on holidays in third-world countries.
Anyone who's been around my blog regularly knows I didn't grow up in Leave-It-To-Beaver land. One of my childhood memories is of the day a classmate of mine phoned, a boy who lived down the road. He wanted me to ride bikes with him. I wanted to go. And my parents stood there debating whether or not they should let me, because it might not be a good idea for their daughter to play with a Japanese boy.
I never got mad as a kid - I had self-preservation and beating-avoidance worked out pretty well by that age - but I was so angry. By the time I was in high school I was hanging out with every black, Chinese or otherwise 'not-white' student in school. Probably there was something in there to pissing my parents off. But I was fascinated by culture. One friend, her family immigrated to Canada from Guyana. Where was that? What was it like? My window to the world, Esther was.
Another friend's family had fled China via Taiwan. Her grandmother only spoke Chinese. I was hopeless trying to learn to say Mary's real Chinese name.
When I read Tess's post, it brought back a lot of old feelings. It also got me wondering. Why are people racist?
As people, we compartmentalize. A woman did this, all women must be this way. A man did that, therefore all men are pigs. A black person did this - all black people will do the same.
Talk about generalizing.
For those of us that write, talk about the ultimate challenge. I mean, how do you portray what is without advocating it?
You know, I never even thought about that when I wrote Terms of Redemption, yet one of my characters (not leading, but important) is Native. And he's not a drunk, gasoline-sniffing washout. He's an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer. One of the RCMP officers that helped me with research was half-French, half-Native. We joked he had the minority angle covered. He was so wonderful, I wanted to put a Native cop into my book.
But you know, in as much as I think about it in writing, reading Tess's comments really got to me. It was a punch in the gut. That this is still something people have to deal with is truly sad.
If you agree, go over and email Tess and just say, "You belong."
And since I'm into free love and embracing the brotherhood of all mankind, I guess there's even hope for the Welsh.
Not quite so sure about the reformed lawyer though!