Before one reads Paul Beatty being the first American to win the Man Booker, I want to discuss a point I noticed in the article.
That when he was giving a reading and he mentioned that one of his influences was from the Japanese and a questioner said (out loud) that they thought it weird for An American Black writer to be influenced by Japanese culture. He immediately skipped the questioner, to the next person. I don't blame him. Notice I'm mentioning Black.
There is a reason why writers of color often feel 'stiffed' by the writing and publishing community. There is always the possibility of being hedged in. That we writers of color are incapable about writing on anyone else's experiences except our own. Yet, such questions are rarely asked of writers who are White.
Take for instance a post I wrote some time ago for this blog. I was writing about creating my official website. A White man asked me about my influences as a writer and I mentioned the Greek myths of my childhood. He thought that strange that a Black woman would be influenced by Greek culture. Something I KNOW he would not have said openly to me had I been White as him.
There's still this 'ghettoization' of Black and Brown writers and creatives that we can't possibly write from any other perspective. And yet, while many in the writing community believe some White writers are not telling diverse enough stories, there are Black and Brown writers who have been telling stories not only of their own people and cultures but injecting the cultures and ethnic backgrounds of others in their characters since forever.
It really saddens and disgusts me when I bring up this double-standard and people actually get offended! Actually, it is I who should be offended and righteously so.
The whole point of being a writer, being an artist, being any kind of creative in either the creative writing, visual, fine and performance arts is that we are surrounded by a multiflueous array of experiences and that unless we are literally under a rock, there is absolutely no way we cannot be influenced by others.
It is a disservice to believe that any human being, especially those in the creative fields, and shame on our community to think otherwise, will not take away and be inspired by other creatives whom they admire. Who ignite those 'sparks' within each of us.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming!