Although I’ve tackled this subject before, I keep returning to it, unsatisfied. It’s a hot-button issue and one that’s close to my writing heart. Because even after all the eloquent arguments around racial stereotyping in the novel THE HELP and recent discussion about Michael Chabon’s choice to write African American characters in TELEGRAPH AVENUE, readers and writers still ponder the politics and risks of writing POV characters whose skin color and experiences differ from the writer’s.
We’ve probably all participated in these conversations about cultural appropriation and trivializing stereotypes. What interests me most as a writer is the implicit criticism of the white author of THE HELP for even attempting to tell the story of the black maids – because how could she possibly know their hearts, how could she presume to speak their voice? I think one adjective used was “cringeworthy.” (more…)