Who gets to write what?

There was a really interesting article in the NY Times yesterday related to our conversations in class about power and the racial imaginary–I’d be curious to hear people’s thoughts.

“Imagine the better, stronger fiction that could be produced if writers took this challenge to stretch and grow one’s imagination, to afford the same depth of humanity and interest and nuance to characters who look like them as characters who don’t, to take those stories seriously and actually think about power when writing — how much further fiction could go as an art.”


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One Response to Who gets to write what?

  1. Erica Mena says:

    Yes, I saw this too! I wondered what people made of it! I think there are two issues at stake here: what are the ethics surrounding telling other peoples’ stories, and if storytelling is powerful and important, what is our accountability as writers to that power. The question of whether someone “can” or “can not” is the wrong question, I think. Or at least it’s not very interesting, because there’s really no way to prevent people from writing what they want to no matter what. So then the question is how can that writing be done ethically (or as Claudia Rankine suggests in her introduction to The Racial Imaginary, why do you want to tell other peoples’ stories in the first place?) is more fruitful. And then this idea of approval/acceptance… I love that question “why do they want our approval so badly?” because that really is what it sounds like to me when a white writer gets criticized for appropriating something poorly / unethically and they call that criticism censorship.


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