Tag Archives: The New York Times

The Right to Write, the Right to Speak—for others and ourselves

person with body painting

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

If you have read my blog recently, you probably saw my firm opinion about The Nation editors apologizing for publishing a poem written by a white guy in Black vernacular (AAV, AAVE, whatever). I believe—still—that the poet has the right to write (and publish that writing) for other races, so long as he does it well. I haven’t actually seen anyone critiquing the poem saying the vernacular was used incorrectly. Mostly it’s been woke white people saying a white person shouldn’t use it at all.

Moving on from that, however, I was thrilled to read an article in The New York Times entitled “Go Ahead, Speak for Yourselves” written by Kwame Anthony Appiah. I have no idea if Mr. Appiah supports the right of Mr. Carlson-Wee to write in Black vernacular or not. However, I liked his take on representing for different cultures. It seems these days that we’ve simplified things a little too much. We’re “woke”, so Black people speak for Black people, gay people for the gay community, and white women for white women.

But what do I—a middle class suburbanite raised in a lower income household—know about a white woman raised on a farm? If I express an opinion “as a white woman”, does it represent everyone from my retired next-door neighbor to my daughter (who is very different from me and will, by the time she is my age, have had very different experiences throughout her life than even some of her peers)?

As a writer, I feel the limitations of this. I strain at the bonds of being a Southern white woman forbidden to write or empathize with other cultures, even when I do my best to learn about and experience those cultures. It’s a multicolored world and we all have a portion of that rainbow in us, whether we’re Black transsexuals or white Southern GRITS or straight Mexican men. I believe if we all learn to embrace that rainbow and take more of it into ourselves, we will grow not only as individuals but as a united human race.

That’s why I stand up for Mr. Carlson-Wee’s right to write and empathize with a race he did not grow up in, even when he and his editors did not. That’s why I will continue to write from the perspective I am drawn to, regardless of what color that person’s skin is. I hope someday I will have the skill to write from the perspective of someone who is truly different from me. I will keep working toward that goal, improving and expanding the boundaries of my empathy.

Because that’s what writers do.

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

A New Kind of Romance: Changing the soul of romance literature

I just read a wonderful article in The New York Times by Alexandra Alter called “The Changing Face of Romance Novels”. The article addressed how romance novels are slowly changing to more accurately reflect the growing diversity in our world. However, Alter points out that many of the more diverse authors who write diverse romance must turn to alternative publishing outlets to get their books to readers as traditional publishing does not embrace change—at least not right away.

The article got me thinking. More diversity is a wonderful thing. More accurately reflecting the world we live in is invaluable. And yet, that doesn’t address what I see as the core problem in my genre the way my new kind of romance will. You see, though the face of literature definitely needs to change with changing times and audiences, the soul of romance must be addressed as well.

Gustave Flaubert said, “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” If the romance genre continues to explore the darker desires and pitfalls of humanity, is that what we romance authors believe love is all about? Is that what the publishing industry believes?

Isn’t it our duty as artists to illuminate the brighter side of love?

Yes, sex sells. It always has and always will. It sells books and clothes and cars. It sells candy and music. The publishing industry needs to take note, however, that you can’t just give the romance genre a facelift (even if it does need one). In today’s world, however, it is more important than ever to show through the romance genre that sexy does not need to include what women don’t want in their lives—whether that is controlling heroes, discrimination, assault or harassment of any sort.

 

 

Comments Off on A New Kind of Romance: Changing the soul of romance literature

Filed under A New Kind of Romance, Becoming Magic, Writing