Here is my reaction to the “cultural appropriation prize” editorial in Write, the Writers’ Union of Canada publication: If the editor hadn’t resigned, he should have been fired! And I still say that after hearing him apologize on the national CBC Radio show that follows Metro Morning in Toronto.
Whatever were you thinking? Or were you not thinking? You are entitled to your opinion, but when you work for an organization that stands for one thing, sorry, you have to support the stance. Want to take a different stance? Feel free, but resign first, not after the fact.
Do you work for the Liberal Party. Don’t think you’d get away with espousing neo-con positions.
Cultural appropriation may be hard to define, and as a straight white male if I were to write a novel and determined that it required a gay character or a character of color, I am free to put such a character in the novel. But would I ever have a main character be a person of color from ‘the hood’ in New York? That would be plain dumb and ignorant. That would be a book that nobody would want to read. It would be a book of cliches and stereotypes. And you want to give me a prize for that? …
And to the editors who tweeted offers of money for the prize…. Shame on you. Like straight white males don’t have enough taken-for-granted privileges. In addition, we should appropriate the voice of others, and be rewarded for it?
You folks may be editors, but being an editor doesn’t mean you can’t say (write) stupid things. Really, what were you guys thinking? Nobody is calling for stifling politically correctness or the stifling of the imagination. At least I am not. But to appropriate the culture of another and to strut like a peacock for doing so? I’d say that shows a total lack or imagination. If you cannot find something imaginative in your own rather wide cultural sphere to creatively write about, then should you be writing at all…
And to pen such an editorial in an issue of Write that was dedicated to the voices of indigenous writers… That makes it doubly shameful.
As a straight white male, I apologize for the lack of thinking and insight of other overly privileged straight white male writers. But I seem to be doing a lot of that lately, in my Honorable Men blog. It seems we straight white men have a lot to apologize for.
But to hear what a much more deserving voice has to say on this issue, do yourself a favor and please listen to this: Columnist Jesse Wente reacts to the appropriation prize controversy