As you all know I am working on my (da da da dum) masterpiece. And you all know, I am white. And you all know (or maybe you don’t know?) the masterpiece concerns the 3/11 tragedy in Japan, and thus has Japanese characters in it.
So I think A LOT about cultural appropriation. I mull it over in my head, read websites, read books about racial issues, read young people’s book with characters of color, and so on. Part of me doesn’t know if it is my story to tell, as a white woman. But a part of me also says, “I have lived in Japan over twenty years! And in Fukushima over ten!” So I do feel I have really experienced Japanese culture and can possibly get into the head of the fictional Japanese young person who is the hero of my (da da da dum) masterpiece.
To be honest, though, I think the best books with Asian characters are written by Asians themselves.
I was looking at this blog post.
I think if I read one more book with an Asian character with green or grey eyes, I will barf. Who gives a darn what color one’s eyes are? Grey eyes don’t make Sayuri (in “Memoirs of a Geisha”) more beautiful or interesting. It just means Arthur Golden is a weirdo. Honestly, I have met one person in Japan who I stopped and thought, “Wow, she has grey eyes.” It was my son’s fifty year old teacher. Not sexy. Just, um, sort of cloudy grey, like maybe she possibly needs some sort of cataract surgery.
I feel like there should be fewer books about Asians written by white people, and more by Asians. But then what about my (da da da dum) masterpiece? I guess, here’s hoping that white people who do write about characters from other cultures have done their research, treat the matter gently and appropriately, and not just as a “Ka-ching! Ka-ching!” way to get rich. Otherwise, it would be hypocritical of me, no?
That’s what the above blog post calls for–Research. It talks about three authors who successfully researched their books. (Two of those authors are Asian American.)
That’s part of why I keep this blog….to help me learn more about the Japan that I live in. And partly why I study the Japanese language. It’s an ongoing research project for me. I am by no means at all a “Japan” expert, though….still learning. Still learning!