Okay, and I devoutly…

Okay, and I devoutly hope this will be my last RaceFail post, also over at Scalzi's blog:

Part II (on creating characters with ethnic identities (white or otherwise))

God, I'm tired. My child has been watching too much tv, I still have a play to revise by tomorrow's hard deadline, and my house is an utter disaster. But I think some good is coming of all this.

10 thoughts on “Okay, and I devoutly…”

  1. It’s a bit crowded in the comment-threads over there and I don’t feel like I want either to derail those discussions or get lost in the noise, but I wanted to express my appreciation for your effort here. I’m just-some-woman-on-the-internets, and I realize that, but your words have been profoundly helpful and meaningful to me for various reasons.

  2. Thank you for putting the effort into it, and you’ve been saintly in the comments. I think you have indeed done some good.

  3. As the person who was hiding in my foxhole in an earlier thread, I’ll chime in my thanks as well, for creating a projectile-free space to discuss these issues.

    And as much as I personally appreciate calm and reasoned discussions, once I got over that initial reaction I reminded myself that my preference for quiet logic over heated emotions on any topic is longstanding and well-entrenched (you’re not the only one who identified with Spock), but not necessarily shared with everyone. I think there probably are people (on all sides of any issue) who get more out of the anger than out of calm, so I am glad that both types of discussions exist for those who can benefit from them.

  4. Hi Mary Anne,

    You are doing great in the Scalzi forum over there and have got an awful lot of people thinking.

    I’m posting here with a question I had asked earlier (not directly to you) but might have been drowned out on the huge megablog. I’d like to become a member of the Carl Brandon society, of which you said you were a founding member. I’d like to know an email contact for reaching the Steering Committee (not sure if you are on it), what is the status of the Kindred and Parallax awards and when are they planned to be awarded again.

    Thank you!

  5. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Brian, I stepped off the board a few years ago, when I had my daughter and abruptly ran out of time. 🙂 My best suggestion would be to join the mailing list, and then ask there. Someone will know…

  6. Mary Anne, I found the Yahoo Group – thanks for the tip!

    You really did a great job with your guest posting.

  7. I have a question about something you said in the second part, about ethnicity and race. The two seem different from me, at least if you mean ethnicity to be about cultural heritage, because you can often adopt a cultural tradition without actually being a strong part of it. You can take up Scottish Country Dancing, research and choose a tartan, travel to Scotland every time you get a chance to go on vacation, eat haggis every Burns Night, and otherwise generally act as Scottish as one could possibly act, even if only one of your distant ancestors was Scottish, or for that matter if none of your distant ancestors was Scottish, and even if you don’t personally look at all like what people think “Scottish people” look like.

    This is harder with race, if by “race” you mean “the color of your skin”. And different people may mean different things by those terms in different contexts, and that’s fine — I’m just trying to differentiate between appearance and culture here. Because you can choose your culture to a large extent, and you can join a culture regardless of what you look like, but you can’t as easily change the color of your skin.

    When you get on a bus and people react badly, it’s not because you’ve chosen to be a part of Sri Lankan culture, it’s purely because of how you look. And I don’t know for sure, but my off the cuff thought is that most racism that PoC experience is based on looks rather than culture. Or other hard-to-shake things like accent — but things that you’re stuck with unless you go to great effort to make them go away, as opposed to things you chose to pursue and adopt.

    It’s certainly a fine idea to write about characters that are both culturally and visually diverse; but the two aren’t the same. And I think that when people talk about “race not being an issue in the future”, they’re talking much more about the visual than about the cultural.

  8. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    It’s interesting, about the race/ethnicity divide. I think it’s hard for me to separate them out, because they’ve been so interconnected in my life. It’s true that much of the overt racism is in response to visual race cues. But there’s a lot of ethnic stuff too:

    – your house smells like ethnic food (in an insulting way, not complimentary; my mom is very worried that people will think that, and I think that’s common among immigrants)

    – your people are dirty (related to above)

    – your people are greedy, lazy, over-emotional, etc.

    – your people belong to this extremist religion that wants to kill all good, right-thinking Christian people

    – your people can’t be bothered to learn English, which makes my life difficult — and you’re in America, dammit

    etc. and so on. There’s overlap there with race, but I think some of these racist responses are mostly actually ethnicity-based. Again, it’s hard to separate the two…

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