When Prejudice Becomes Normalized

When I was a neophyte writer, I was cautious and careful. I tried really hard not to offend anyone. I tried to be polite. I thought that if I took the high road, the low-roaders would give up. I believed the market place was big enough for me, and them, and a lot of others besides. I ignored inappropriate behavior, like the woman (whose name I have now mercifully forgotten) in a writing group in Maryland who asked me why I didn’t just write about “normal” kids, instead of these Indian ones with weird names whose families ate strange foods. Well, okay, I cried and left the group, never to return. But I figured that I wasn’t taking real abuse, just feeling a temporary sting from someone else’s ignorance. It wouldn’t kill me.

It didn’t. Some 20-odd books later, until quite recently, I’d managed to convince myself that things were getting better in our little corner of the publishing universe.

Maybe not so, it turns out. Admittedly, I wasn’t part of the original Twitter debate (too old, too slow, too much writing energy needed for actual writing) but it’s been impossible to ignore all the discussions and counter-arguments, calls for greater insight and understanding, and more. Surprisingly, some commentators admit to not having read the book that sparked the whole thing.

In light of all that, and particularly in light of Charlottesville now make an eloquent case for more debate, not less.

dimplerishiThey quote Sandhya Menon, author of  When Dimple Met Rishi:

“When people who’ve historically held positions of privilege feel their privilege threatened, or like they won’t get a ‘free pass’ anymore, they can sometimes perceive that as reverse discrimination rather than an evening out of the playing field.”

And so it is in reality. Only now there’s another factor at play. Prejudice has become normalized in the United States of America. That is the truth–no other sides to this reality. And the world of YA books, it seems, is not so tidily sheltered from the real world, after all.

2 thoughts on “When Prejudice Becomes Normalized

  1. Thank you, Uma. In our most open cities and states, California and New York, we aimed to honor and celebrate the strengths diversity brought us as reflected by the election of Barack Obama. But with the Bully in Chief Trump, whose GOP stole the presidential election through gerrymander and other tactics–some yet to be revealed, hate and injustice in spite of the law has become the norm. We have to organize to find a way to impeach him, and disempower his enablers and enforcers–white supremacists, anti-Semites, anti-LGBT and America First nationalists. We can’t give up because our country, the world and our planet are at stake. Love trumps hate!

  2. Uma, this was such an enlightening post — I’ve been buried in piles of boxes from having just moved my family 900 miles south and haven’t been very active on any social media. All of the articles you linked were helpful in trying to put the pieces together and see SOME of the emotions that are out there. It is a mutlifaceted and complex issue – not in terms of identifying what’s wrong, but in figuring out the best ways to address it. I appreciate you bringing this debate (in the YA community) to light, for me at least. Hopefully the debates and discussions lead to more and more changes. I, for one, am not accepting prejudice as normal.

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