Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why I Chose to be Racist and White

Let’s face it. I see racists and they’re all around us. All we have to do is look at what President Obama and Trayvon Martin have gone through. While some racists choose to keep their views hidden, there are plenty of them who wear their hatred on their sleeves.

So, in Zaire’s Place, I chose to take on the persona of a prejudiced white woman, Rebecca Reich. I say some ugly things about my race. But isn’t that what a racist person thinks? Isn’t that the mark of a good writer…to delve into the mind of another person and convey their thoughts? There are some ugly people out there who think ugly things, and I just so happen to write about it.

Some people would say that I must be steeped in self-loathing and self-hatred for my skin color to be able to write such awful things. And I would say it’s the exact opposite. I love myself and I love my black people. I have championed for our causes and do all I can to let it be known that racism exists. By exposing racism for what it truly is (ugly and vile), doesn’t that help move us further along? Doesn’t that let America know that we are not a post-racial society as “they” would like to have us believe? And perhaps (that’s a big perhaps) maybe I can get the conversation of race flowing so that the racist can reflect on his views.

I chose to be white in the same sense that I chose to display the nuances between Charlene and Aisha. By taking on other personas, we come to understand this thing called “the human experience”. It’s the same way that I chose to delve into the relationships between women…how women bash one another and often tear each other down. Isn’t that the job of a writer—to be the mirror of life?

I’m not Polly Anna and I don’t see life as all rainbows. I reflect that in my books (I have another unpublished manuscript that deals with sensitive issues). That’s why I also address child abuse in my novel (and, of course, domestic violence). I write, and often I write about bad things. Why? Because, in life, bad stuff happens. And there are a lot of people who think bad thoughts.

I don’t feel the need to defend what I write and I definitely don’t feel the need to apologize for it. Those who are interested will come, and those who aren’t won’t. They can go and read all the “good stuff” about life that makes them forget that a real world exists…a world filled with ugliness and pain. 

However, I do know that even in the ugly, there is still beauty. And that’s what Zaire’s Place shows…the beauty that can come out of ugliness. 

*steps away from the mic*

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