Kate Elliot posted an essay today called Decolonizing as an SF Writer by Rochita Loenen-Luiz. The subject is one that’s interesting to me because a lot of my dissertation and research has dealt with colonization/postcolonization/neocolonization. I think colonization is the most shaping force on all societies in the world.
But what it made me think about today was black people. You might ask why. The subject came up with my children. They were talking about the civil war, and then my son says, “I call black people African-Americans.” I said, that makes sense, but you realize that not all black people are African-American, nor do they wish to be called such. Then my daughter pipes up with “Anthony is black.” I said no, he’s Chinese. He’s racially different from white and black. Then my son pipes up with another kid who is black, and I explained no, he’s Mexican.
Now the thing is that this little town I live in is mostly white. Very white. There are a few black kids and Hawai’ian kids at the college, and then a Mexican migrant population and a fair number of Native Americans. But frankly, the day to day experience with people tends to be blindingly white. That skews the perception that all the world looks like this.
Which makes it difficult to start explaining to children about people of color and their cultural histories and the way that white people are implicated in a lot of terrible things in history. The fact is, it’s a complicated subject and I can’t do it all in a day or even a year. But it is something that I have to talk with them about now and throughout their lives. I don’t think that this history is taught in school, but it’s tremendously important. On the other hand, my kids learn a lot about the real Native American history here. The Big Hole Battlefield is not far, and neither is the Little Big Horn. I’ve been to The Big Hole Battlefield and you can feel the spirits still there. It’s an eerie, beautiful place.
You should read Loenen-Luiz’ essay. It’s well worth reading and it digs into the complexity in a very short space. What I really find important is the way she talks about the friendship/betrayal/colonizer element. That there is a real difficulty in negotiating the tangle of emotions involved in being friends with the people who are oppressing you.
When I finish my Crosspointe books, this is part of what I mean to explore, and what I’ve been setting up all along with the Jutras. I have the Crosspointe people seeing them as invaders and a sort of monolithic evil in the first book, and then slowly they learn that the Jutras are human and eventually they begin to learn that the Jutras have good reason for invading. That good and bad is not as simple as it looks.
And yes, I intend to finish them. While Roc has decided not to publish the last books, I’m looking for a publisher who will, and if not, I will do it myself. I love these books and I want to get them done.