Ethnicity, and Specificity in Writing

I’m more of a ‘write stuff then research the hell out of it’ type of writer. So I come to it backwards. But it did make me think about the two questions she poses:

How has your ethnic background influenced you, both culturally and personally?

Is there any particular aspect of yourself you find yourself using or referencing in some way in your various works?

Mainstream white America (to which I nominally belong) has very little problem with assuming they own the place. Growing up shy and geeky, that gave me what little confidence and acceptance I had. As a survivor of various sorts of trauma, the understanding of being on the outside of the place I was supposed to own — never really part of anything — had little to do with ethnicity so much as what I survived, since growing up that way causes a major disconnect in how you relate to others.

I feel more in touch with other survivors, no matter what their race, because we’ve come from a certain place that you can’t get to by driving. So I put the story of the survivor into my work. That’s writing what I know.

Now this was complicated by discovering at age 30 that my mother was Creole and had been ‘passing’ for white since before I was born. People who had been the root of a lot of my abuse now were part of my heritage.

This explained a lot of my mother’s strange behavior — bleaching my hair long before it was cool to do that, the rants when I didn’t make grades to her standards, the emphasis on what people might think. My siblings and I had darker hair and skin than she did, and she wanted us to be white.

But, like I said, I never fit in. I wasn’t athletic, wasn’t a whole lot of things. But school was better than home.  At least that place was predictable, even if it meant being pounded on occasionally by the ‘popular’ kids.

Hiding Ending up in libraries was something that came naturally to me, and since I already read well, I gravitated to stories that were more complex than most kids read, yet were escapist. I discovered Asimov and Bradbury and Heinlein, and found my place with these people from the far future, where people seemed to care more about what you knew and did more than how popular you were.

So I became an SF writer.

How about you?

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