As I mentioned the other day, there’s been another round on the Internet of the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate, regarding what it means for white writers (or writers of color, for that matter) to to include or not include characters of color in their stories, and all the difficulties thereof. (Depending on your location on the social map, your friends list may have consisted of nothing but this debate for the last several days, or you may have missed it entirely.)
I came to a realization because of all of this. On the one hand, if you write CoC, you may be accused of getting it wrong, of presuming to speak from a subject position you have no right to occupy, and various other sins. On the other hand, if you don’t write CoC, you may be accused of ethnocentrism, of contributing to their erasure from the discourse, and various other sins. Either way you go, you will offend somebody; there’s no “safe” path, much as we wish there were.
This has led many people to conclude, not without justification, that you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
In which case, I choose Door Number One: I would rather be damned for doing, than for not.
I would rather try (and get it wrong) than not try (and get it wrong). Because the former has at least some chance of getting it somewhat right, for some readers. It will also, in the manner of a lightning rod, attract more criticism — even folks who are aware of these things are more likely to be aware of, and vocally critical of, that which is executed badly than that which is not executed at all — but that’s no reason to give up.