'Staying in Your Lane,' Poetic Voice, and Political Correctness - Page 12

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  1. #111
    A quick Google says there's more whites homeless in the us than others. The ratios are off, though, not equal to overall proportions:
    https://www.nationalhomeless.org/fac...inorities.html

    a quick google search of percentages of mini-marts owner by race does not come up. I can only go by my neighborhood which comprises about 11 million people. The east India/ sub continent ownership stereotype is correct to over 50% at a minimum. One of my friends owns three ( but that is anecdotal..)
    Last edited by Kevin; Yesterday at 02:03 PM.

  2. #112
    The trouble with reinforcing stereotypes is that it reinforces stereotypes. As if indians can only be doctors or run mini-marts. What about a indian quarterback or an indian school teacher? Surely they exist. Reinforcing stereotypes is like retweeting inflammatory rhetoric. It exaggerates reality and makes it seem bigger than it is. That's why so many feel that neo-nazis are taking over. They have figured out how to exploit their stereotype so it makes it seem like they are eveywhere. That's what stereotyping does and why it's dangerous. It narrows perception and fuels paranoia.

  3. #113
    Quote Originally Posted by TL Murphy View Post
    The trouble with reinforcing stereotypes is that it reinforces stereotypes. As if indians can only be doctors or run mini-marts. What about a indian quarterback or an indian school teacher? Surely they exist. Reinforcing stereotypes is like retweeting inflammatory rhetoric. It exaggerates reality and makes it seem bigger than it is. That's why so many feel that neo-nazis are taking over. They have figured out how to exploit their stereotype so it makes it seem like they are eveywhere. That's what stereotyping does and why it's dangerous. It narrows perception and fuels paranoia.
    oh gawd... my friend's daughter is a doctor, and his son -in-law , arranged marriage, Hindus , no meat... How is that dangerous? He does have a screw-up, in-law that goes to prison every so often. Should we write about that? There's a danger there, possibly.

    And about those Nazis, surely you're not suggesting they are creating the hype- the overhype, statistically? I mean that takes all the fun out of beating them with brass knuckles (as was/is popularly suggested to me on social media). That means they want us to beat them? Or?
    Confusing...

    T.L., i will, however, take your point and think on it.
    Last edited by Kevin; Yesterday at 03:17 PM.

  4. #114
    Quote Originally Posted by Squalid Glass View Post
    But honesty, as a white, middle class, Midwestern person, do you really think you could write a true representation of, I donít know, a disenfranchised black youth from Oakland who grew up on the streets and now feels a need for armed revolution? If you tried, do you think your character would be as authentic as Killmonger? I seriously doubt it. Instead, youíd be much more likely to fall into the trap of stereotyping the character and missing his nuance. Not because youíre racist, but because your window of experience is limited. And you could say, well that just traps me in writing about myself, but thatís not really the case. Whatís being argued is that those unintentional stereotypes toward POC have been damaging for a long time in America, and maybe itís time to stop making the same mistake.
    I can write a representation as true as my empathy, knowledge (I wouldn't venture 'out-of-my-lane' without research), and imagination can manage. That's all anyone can do. But, yes, I think I could construct a character as authentic as Killmonger (he was, after all, created by two white guys, Don McGregor and Rich Buckler). Would I make mistakes? Sure, but I make mistakes when I write about characters like me too. Everyone's perception is filtered through their own, unique, set of experiences and is colored by them and, as a result, is not 'authentic'. People talk about stereotypes as if they are evil. They are not unless they are used as the sole representation for a character. We all think, and write in stereotypes all the time. I would guess that if you were dropped off in the Washington Park area of East St. Louis, Illinois one evening, or in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, or the Bedlow Drive area of Stockton, California, you wouldn't be thinking about the nuances of the cultures. You would be thinking about the stereotypes, and there's nothing wrong with that. All of us fit into one stereotype or another. It's only when we drill down into the individual that the stereotypes break down. I'm a fat, old, middle-class, white male, a pretty common stereotype, but I've also been so poor I've had to cash-in pop-bottles to buy toilet paper, driven a car so decrepit my kids couldn't sit in the front seat because there was no floor between them and the road, and been turned down for a job I was qualified for because I was the wrong color. No, I can't completely understand what it's like living in a refugee camp in the Sudan and wondering where my next meal is coming from, but I have spoken at length with people who did live there and can incorporate what I learned from them into a character, as well as using what I gleaned about their own character.

    I'm not suggesting that gross misrepresentations of marginalized people are in any way okay. That's when the "harm" occurs, not when a writer steps out of his lane to explore experiences he may never have had, or to look at his own experiences from an alternate perspective. I believe doing that is a good thing. Telling me I shouldn't write from the perspective of a person-of-color, or a woman, or a disabled person, or a person with a different sexual orientation from my own simply because I have never experienced that is a form of censure. Go ahead and criticize my work if I do it poorly, or me if I do it gratuitously, but don't tell me I shouldn't even try.
    ďFoolsĒ said I, ďYou do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach youĒ
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


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  5. #115
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post

    And about those Nazis, surely you're not suggesting they are creating the hype- the overhype, statistically? I mean that takes all the fun out of beating them with brass knuckles (as was/is popularly suggested to me on social media). That means they want us to beat them? Or?
    Confusing...

    T.L., i will, however, take your point and think on it.
    Kevin, if the current political atmosphere has taught us anything, it is that facts and statistics do not sway people if they conflict with a prefered ideology. Most people stop thinking critically when it challenges their identity.
    Last edited by TL Murphy; Yesterday at 06:55 PM.

  6. #116
    That’s good Tim. My core identity is related to my children. I had no idea how much I disliked having that challenged, until one of my children’s teachers said something about him with which I disagreed. He was right but it hit me in the gut because I had no clue how my own identity was tied to how people see my children. I began to try to see my children through the neighbor’s eyes and still love them. Now, after saying that I am not even sure it is relevant to what you said. Sorry if I veered off topic all.
    Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity --it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
    John Keats

  7. #117
    Forum Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I do not disagree with your concerns about black stereotypes for a second. My issue is there is constantly a conflation made between portraying racial stereotypes and being racist.

    Apu is a pretty good example of what I think is acceptable. Sure, it's a stereotype -- an Indian who works in a corner store. But a lot of corner stores are indeed run by Indians and there is nothing unholy about working at a corner store. The writer's job is to reflect reality, not construct it, and as long as there are millions of Indians running corner stores there are going to be such depictions. I don't think that is a problem. It is a problem if it becomes the uniform perception among "the masses" but since the average American is as likely to encounter an Indian doctor as an Indian corner shop worker I don't watch The Simpsons and think "oh this is damaging". I don't know of too many Indians who do, either, though I am happy to be corrected by Them (and would respond accordingly).

    You are, of course, correct about the "black thug" stereotype, and indeed the Mexican drug dealer/illegal immigrant stereotype. Those are different creatures, so to speak. This is, however, a literary conversation and I don't know if we all want to go there, do we? The original post, the poem in question, did not refer to the black gangster stereotype -- which of course is largely unfounded -- and instead focused on the issue of black homeless which is absolutely true.

    Can I suggest that in a society where the vast majority of homeless folks are people of color it would be perhaps more problematic for a white poet intent on writing about homeless people to stick to writing only about white ones, in a white voice? Or is the thinking more than white people should not write about homelessness at all? Because it seems to me one cannot have it both ways?
    Apologies for not being able to format very well with my posts. Iím mobile right now, so Iíll take each point in order.

    I agree that there is too often a confatiom between portraying a stereotype and being racist. Of cours, being called a racist is, for many people, a much worse crime in this country than being a racist, so the term inspires a lot of emotion.

    In regards to Apu, the problem is not that the character is racist. The problem is the stereotype. Apu was the only Indian character on TV for a long time, and his role was essentially the Indian dude in the corner store. Thereís nothing negative here. The problem is one of representation. Like, perhaps the reason for the stereotype has more to do with the manufactured image in media as opposed to reality. When the only representation of an Indian children see is Apu, itís hard to recognize and appreciate cultural differences and nuance. Which is why I brought up Black Panther earlier. Cooler was able to present very different aspects of black culture and flip some stereotypes on their head. A white writer, despite everyoneís claims to the contrary, NEVER did that! The push for inclusivity and people telling their own stories is so that the stereotypes that have been built up in media by white artists creating black characters can be changed. Black Panther, with all its nuance and its subtle commentary about racial stereotypes, could not have been written by a white person. Iím sorry. It couldnít have. The entire history of western media should back that up. When POC were not given the opportunity to write their own stories, racial stereotypes were the norm. Itís how we get from a breakfast at Tiffanyís to Rich Crazy Asians or Huck Finn (with minstrel Jim letting the boys play with his life) to Black Panther.

    The original poem in this thread Does not, as you point out, reduce itself to stereotype. As Iíve said, itís purely an issue of appropriation. And as Iíve said, I donít find this poem problematic in its use of appropriation because, a. Itís a poem, so itís analysis of character and emotion is not as extensive and prone to missing nuance as a longer work; and b. As silver moon pointed out, the author has lived his life in homelessness with people of colo, and it seems like he has naturalized the vernacular.

    Again, I think the bigger issue that people have with this particular sort of thing is the space given to tell the story. It just seems odd that when we can admit objectively (Bayview provides the numbers) that POC are woefully underrepresented in the publishing industry, why would the publishers give space to a white man to tell their story? Thatís the main issue: the lack of representation. That, I think, is where publishers and artists can think deeper about what they choose to write and publish, and what they step back from with the idea that other voices can and should tell those stories better.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  8. #118
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    A quick Google says there's more whites homeless in the us than others. The ratios are off, though, not equal to overall proportions:
    https://www.nationalhomeless.org/fac...inorities.html

    a quick google search of percentages of mini-marts owner by race does not come up. I can only go by my neighborhood which comprises about 11 million people. The east India/ sub continent ownership stereotype is correct to over 50% at a minimum. One of my friends owns three ( but that is anecdotal..)
    Thanks for catching this. I definitely did not mean to say a majority. Population of whites and non whites respectively makes it obviously correct that a majority of homeless people are white. What I should have said is that non whites are over represented as a proportion
    "All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened."

    Ernest Hemingway



  9. #119
    Forum Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    I can write a representation as true as my empathy, knowledge (I wouldn't venture 'out-of-my-lane' without research), and imagination can manage. That's all anyone can do. But, yes, I think I could construct a character as authentic as Killmonger (he was, after all, created by two white guys, Don McGregor and Rich Buckler). Would I make mistakes? Sure, but I make mistakes when I write about characters like me too. Everyone's perception is filtered through their own, unique, set of experiences and is colored by them and, as a result, is not 'authentic'. People talk about stereotypes as if they are evil. They are not unless they are used as the sole representation for a character. We all think, and write in stereotypes all the time. I would guess that if you were dropped off in the Washington Park area of East St. Louis, Illinois one evening, or in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, or the Bedlow Drive area of Stockton, California, you wouldn't be thinking about the nuances of the cultures. You would be thinking about the stereotypes, and there's nothing wrong with that. All of us fit into one stereotype or another. It's only when we drill down into the individual that the stereotypes break down. I'm a fat, old, middle-class, white male, a pretty common stereotype, but I've also been so poor I've had to cash-in pop-bottles to buy toilet paper, driven a car so decrepit my kids couldn't sit in the front seat because there was no floor between them and the road, and been turned down for a job I was qualified for because I was the wrong color. No, I can't completely understand what it's like living in a refugee camp in the Sudan and wondering where my next meal is coming from, but I have spoken at length with people who did live there and can incorporate what I learned from them into a character, as well as using what I gleaned about their own character.

    I'm not suggesting that gross misrepresentations of marginalized people are in any way okay. That's when the "harm" occurs, not when a writer steps out of his lane to explore experiences he may never have had, or to look at his own experiences from an alternate perspective. I believe doing that is a good thing. Telling me I shouldn't write from the perspective of a person-of-color, or a woman, or a disabled person, or a person with a different sexual orientation from my own simply because I have never experienced that is a form of censure. Go ahead and criticize my work if I do it poorly, or me if I do it gratuitously, but don't tell me I shouldn't even try.
    I agree with most of this, but a couple things. First of all, the movie Black panther was written by two black men. The comic was created by two white men, yes, but if you look at the comic vs the movie, you’ll notice that even the comic fails at avoiding stereotypes and racial things, such as some of the character names and such. I’m on mobile so I can’t link out right now, but it’s worth looking up. The movie, on the other hand, presents very subtle and smart images of prejudice and racism and stereotyping that only those black authors could conjure. So the point is this: people aren’t censuring you. They’re trying to tel you that when you try to appropriate their very real stories of trauma and marginalization, you will inherently miss some very important things that could hurt the quality of the writing and, in turn, inadvertently perpetuate issues that already hurt the community you write about. So no, you can certainly verge into other lanes as we discussed before. All the more power to you. But when the history of our media has been written full of stereotypes and falsehoods by white men, maybe it’s due time for other people to try and correct the misconceptions that have been created. Maybe other voices should be given equal opportunity to speak. Maybe other people can speak to issues that we could never know. That doesn’t mean you can’t write what you want. It just means that the playing field is wider than its ever been, and if you choose to veer into an area that directly affects the quality of other people’s lives, you can expect to receive backlash if you misstep.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  10. #120
    Forum Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TL Murphy View Post
    Kevin, if the current political atmosphere has taught us anything, it is that facts and statistics do not sway people if they conflict with a prefered ideology. Most people stop thinking critically when it challenges their identity.
    This is godly wisdom here.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

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