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From The Literary Hub:
Lately, I’ve been thinking about ownership. I’ve been considering it within the context of writing and art making, wondering who has the right and responsibility to explore the problem of white supremacy, and how, or even if it can be done by white artists without furthering the trauma of marginalized people. I’ve been swimming through these ideas in one way or another for years now, but they all snapped into focus a few days ago when I was in conversation with another writer friend, commiserating over what he called “self-celebrating liberals”—those people who imagine themselves allies to people of color but refuse to address their own complicity in white supremacy. Specifically, we were discussing a growing trend we’ve noticed in the publishing world: that only people of color should make art about racism.
“What should white people be writing about if not racism?” he said. “I feel like half the work that means anything is trying to place and understand the destructiveness of my whiteness.”
This conversation came up, in part, because I am a white woman writing about the toxic inheritance of white supremacy. It is, admittedly, a fraught position to write from with no shortage of examples of seemingly well-intentioned white women (and men) doing their damnedest to address racism while contributing to it instead.
. . . .
White artists and writers have done such a poor job of addressing white supremacy in their work that it’s practically its own sub-genre. I’m not interested in shaming them further here, but these instances, in conjunction with the conversation with my friend, have made me question why we have so few examples of white artists who do this work well, and what that lack might point to.
When white art that is meant to address white supremacy fails, the reason most often given for that failure is that the white artist hasn’t taken the time to listen to the groups they imagined they were advocating for. In an interview in the Los Angels Times, Durant addressed his failure to engage with his subjects in a non-traumatizing way by saying that, “The museum—and I’m sharing the blame —didn’t reach out to the community. We didn’t think of it, to start a dialogue before we started building it. There was no information.”
This is, no doubt, a large part of the issue. But it doesn’t get at what seems to me to be the underlying problem at hand: white artists often fail at this work because they haven’t centered themselves within the violence of their own whiteness. Had any of them placed themselves in the position of the aggressor instead of the victim, and then asked themselves what it means to inherit the violent history of being born white, I imagine some different kinds of art might have been made.
Link to the rest at The Literary Hub
PG suggests the problems of white authors in discussing white supremacy could also be a rational basis for a white author to not write about the subject at all because he/she is blind to it.
Or a white author could sit in a cave and eat gruel so as not to contribute to the many ills of white supremacy.
Or authors of all types could simply write what they would like to write because they have not contributed to white supremacy and are in no way responsible for the previous bad actions of white people to which they did not contribute.