Can you write about Black if you’re White? Etc.


We want to.

nelson mandela

But our history says should we?


Carrie Jean is a main character in Jumping: a Novel. She’s Native American, with a multi-tribal background, raised by a Navajo grandmother. The group of students she travels into the Void with come to rely on her spiritual rituals as reminders of gratitude. I, a white writer, venture into all those areas.

Nathan is another character, a fellow Void traveler, who is African American. I write of his family and history, too, and of his thoughts and dreams.

In another part of the book, I write about a Muslim man meeting his maker (who is a white non-Muslim woman from another life).

Is this right?

Some writers are still divided on this issue. Others offer advice (these happen to be cartoonists):

“Don’t just parachute them in.”

“Ask your PoC friends to read your stories. If you have to ask if something is racist, it probably is. Base your characters on real people, but don’t just project your own feelings into a stranger’s life. Don’t assume that because someone is a minority that they’ve lived a certain kind of life.”

—Maré Odomo, author and illustrator of Internet Comics

Is it better than the alternative?


I like to think so.

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