Benjamin Rosenbaum

Comments on "On RaGoogle, don't index this as white people have authored the pages in the first goddamn seven hits of the relevant searchceFail '09"

I think, and this is my very limited point of view talking, that the response to Writing The Other, or just Writing POC In General, is: research what you write, know what you're talking about, think long and hard about the character roles you give your POC when they have had a history to being relegated to only a handful of very specific character roles/identities. And don't be a douche when someone tries to suggest that your portrayal might have been flawed.

I mean, you wouldn't write a book about medieval England if you didn't know a castle from a monkey's behind. Nor would you write a story about a roadtrip across America if you thought it was a half-day drive from Washington to Tennessee. Obviously, writing about POC is somewhat more complex in that you DO have to consider how you are falling into tropes or common characterizations. But a lot of it just has to do with NOT talking out of your ass.

Anyway, this is a fantastic, articulate entry. Thank you! : ) It has been really heartening to see SF/F pros speak up about this.

Posted by smaur at March 10, 2009 10:57 PM

Dude. The Power Laws thing blew.

My freakin'.



Posted by Matt at March 11, 2009 04:16 AM

The giving up is incredibly sad, but based on the two posts below, I believe there is hope that the discussion is having a positive effect for some.

Stones on My Chest by Isilya
Sees Fire by BossyMarmalade

Posted by naiad at March 11, 2009 06:36 AM

I'm not sure I entirely buy the "blowing off steam at the bar" theory: While there is certainly a culture gap in evidence--see for example various parties' attitudes regarding pseudonyms--the folks engaging in the re-linking and reposting games have traditionally been associated with scrupulous referencing and documenting etc. (Observe my complete lack of reference and documenting to back up this statement!) Not to mention, their claim that pseudonymity necessarily implies a lack of integrity and accountability seems strangely at odds with their own hide-and-seek behaviors. (And note how the tug of war between privacy and transparency is at the heart of both arguments?)

3. Really, "suck" seems too much of an understatement.

5. I don't like shunning either. Partly because, as I think you're saying, it doesn't differentiate between a discrete action on the part of the individual and the individual as a whole. But also because, well, dammit, when somebody screws up as badly as this, I want an apology. I want empathy; I want them to know what they've done and understand how it hurt; and I want a heartfelt, genuine apology. And I'm not gonna get it if we never communicate again.

Posted by Jackie M. at March 12, 2009 06:32 AM

I have to say that there are behaviors where a limited form of shunning - ignoring - is the only cure. Trolling, for instance. Engaging a troll gives the troll something to troll about. Ignoring the troll makes it look elsewhere.

Posted by Matt at March 12, 2009 12:31 PM

Good post.

On the subject of gentiles writing Jews: Updike's Bech books.

Posted by Adam Roberts at March 16, 2009 06:18 PM

Aha, Adam -- thanks for the pointer, I haven't read the Bech books.

Posted by Benjamin Rosenbaum at March 19, 2009 12:31 PM


Posted by Razi at March 25, 2009 10:58 AM

Interesting thoughts. And calmly, thoughtfully, expressed. That's a good thing, I think.

My impression is that people not inured to the level of thermonuclear flame war unfortunately common on the internet are taking away from this largely the rule "do not engage on questions of race". And I don't think that's a good thing for them; but I'm deeply sympathetic to the impulse.

Posted by David Dyer-Bennet at June 1, 2009 03:07 AM

I got here via (lj-user) netmouse. Lots to agree with here.

Is it OK if I link to this post from my LJ? (And if so, would you prefer it open, or flocked to minimise the risk of troll influx?)

Posted by Paul B. =:o} at June 15, 2009 09:35 PM

Unfortunately I wandered off many months ago and thus never answered the last few posts.

Link away, Paul B!

David, right, many people did walk away with that, and it's tragic that they did so, because it perpetuates the problem.

Posted by Benjamin Rosenbaum at November 23, 2009 01:06 PM

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