I marvel at the world today. There’s so much to feel good about, so much to be thankful for. Yet, people are fighting. They’re set against each other, screaming and yelling in the name of peace and equality. It’s ironic.
Last night, on the ABC’s Q&A program, author Ruby Hamad had a go at fellow author Lionel Shriver, stating that she, as a white woman had no basis for writing about a woman of colour, of a different race.
Shriver countered with the voice of reason, noting that it’s a fiction writer’s job to make up worlds, to imagine people in those worlds, irrespective of their race, gender, religious beliefs and skin colour. To prevent writers from doing their job creates a ‘literary apartheid‘.
For a while now, I’ve been silently seething over cultural appropriation, particularly in the field of writing. It’s bloody hard enough to get published as it is, but this adds in a new and frustrating element. Imagine, having a blockbuster, a cracking story, just taking up space on your C:Drive, rendered unpublishable just because you’re a white person who’s thoughtfully reflected the diversity of the real world in your book.
How is it not obvious that cultural appropriation creates a more divisive society? It’s causing us to bicker, or to try and play the game of ‘my oppression is worse than yours’. Nobody wins.
The only way to surmount this problem, I think, is for everyone to be more accepting. Sounds too simplistic? It is simple, that’s the beauty of the solution. Sounds like kindergarten? If it sounds like kindergarten, that’s because we’re all behaving like undisciplined children. Sounds like I’m advocating a Stepford society? It’s not my intention that we all become robotic, lobotimised and dull.
But just imagine, if everyone just smiled instead of reacting in anger over a dumb, thoughtless remark. How about ignoring a provocative post on social media, instead of typing something that will only inflame and cause greater outrage. What about helping a neighbour carry a load of groceries instead of pushing past them in a rush to get home. And how about, when reading a novel, we remember the writer is a real person, but the story they’ve created is not.
And let’s all just take deep breaths and remember we’re all in this world together.