Sunday, July 11, 2010

You can run, but you can't hide

Madeleine L'Engle writes, "If you are an artist, regardless of your religion, everything you do is your witness. You cannot hide what you are." I've been working on a children's fiction project this summer -- a modern-day reworking of a familiar rags-to-riches theme. My main character is a young boy named Ryan, who is biracial. I needed to create a situation that leaves Ryan somewhat destitute (like Sara Crewe in A Little Princess). When I completed my first draft, I asked an African American friend to read it. She pointed out what I already knew, but couldn't quite bring myself to admit -- in my story I'd recreated several stereotypes about African American males. Of course, I was horrified.

My point? As L'Engle said, I cannot hide what I am. I'm white. No matter how hard I try, those prejudices and stereotypes that come with my whiteness emerge, and all I can do is to ask for help when I need it. If I were colorblind, though, I wouldn't know enough to ask.

No comments:

Post a Comment