Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Writing Across Cultures

This article talks about the challenges of writing other cultures.  It's good as far as it goes, in that exploring can be good inspiration and it's important to do your homework so you don't write stupid things.

But it's also staring at a wall that isn't entirely real.  It makes a huge gigantic deal out of that wall, as if humanity is all about being "us" or "them."

It's not.  Racial distinctions are illusions, cultural fabrications not backed by science.  Social boundaries can be real, but even those are thought a great deal more than they're done.  As soon as people meet, they start swapping ideas and usually genes.  Consider the fact that global travel means fewer and fewer people are "pure" anything these days.  This is especially true in America but also true throughout most of the rest of the world, barring a few obsessively endogamous groups.  

So don't assume that you are "other," that you have no connection with some society or ethnic group that interests you.  Look for common ground.  Better yet, take a detailed look at your family tree and see how much diversity you can find in there. Then go explore some of that stuff.

People are people.  We all have a lot of common experience just by sharing a species and a home planet.  A story that focuses on that has a much better chance of working as a story and not devolving into stereotypes.  Consider the success of "Roots," which was at its heart a story about family, not just a black family coming into and out of slavery.

Tags: ethnic studies, networking, reading, writing
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