Thursday, March 08, 2007

Speaking of Race

This item in Slate about race addresses the intent of those who collect racial information, and also recent discussions of who "gets" to claim a racial identity like "African-American." It reminded me of a post to a listserv to which I wanted to reply, but didn't, because I didn't want to stir up trouble. The poster offered us a list of "African-Americans" as main characters in fantasy and science fiction works.

On the one hand: great list! I felt sheepish lately offering up white wizards or the Pevensie kids to the Teens of Color in the local 7th grade who had a fantasy-S/F assignment.

On the other: "African-American"?! The list included Wizard of Earthsea, and while I do know that Ged is described as brown-skinned and dark-haired, it's not because he or his folks came from Africa or America. He came from Gont. It's a made-up place, kids!

Now, Walter Mosley's 47 is on the list, too, and that makes sense. My review-reading understanding of it is that it's about time travel and an African slave in America.

I wish more people felt comfortable with "people of color," because it feels applicable more often. (Though I gather I am meant to be offended as a color-less person.)

New Hot Thing, Maybe? The Secret

1 comment:

Georgi said...

This is something we talk about a lot. People's identities differ, not necessarily wanting or needing to be identified by skin color. It is one thing to acknowledge the inequality that exists between many facets of our society, another to define a person by those inequalities. For example, I wouldn't call myself a "lesbian social worker" (African American writer) etc. Several of the women in my life whose race is deemed as non-white identify as many different things - black, African-American, woman of color, etc. I think it's hard to break the habit, but I think that too often we work to dichotomize everything - needing to put everything into its appropriate box to feel comfortable incoporating it into our lives. I guess that instead of facing the debate of what to label someone or something, we should work to identify them by something other than their race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. Make sense? Just my opinion.