Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Constant Novel: Agenda versus Vehicle

There is a difference between the agenda and the vehicle. But a white feminist friend of mine just doesn't seem to get it.

My new WIP, The Constant Tower, carries my agenda: poor folks (usually of color) living in a world in which other folks (usually white) take resources that don't belong to them. But the agenda is carried in this story by using a vehicle created by the white folks in power. Using Massa's tools to dismantle Massa's house.

Those who haven't had the opportunity to speak must learn how to tell the truth and tell it slant... to tell our story through the media created by those who are powerful. We have to be slick if we want to be understood and yet be published.

In Wind Follower I created a Christian story which honors the best in paganism. That was published by a secular publisher but it is essentially a Christian story. Constant Tower will be published by an American Christian publisher. In my mind, American Christians don't want to read fantasies about white male oppressors that take stuff from poorer cultures. So I have to put my agenda in the proper craft. In this case, I am using a white male protagonist and the story takes place from the viewpoint and from the cultural setting of the white characters. Because honestly, politics aside, white Christian males who read fantasy are more likely to read about males, especially white males. One has to be aware of that. The story already has two black females and one interracial love affair. That kind of stuff is not generally in Christian fiction. I really can't push my luck too far by having a female black protagonist.

My main characters is a white boy from an oppressive rich culture who learns that his people are preying on poor black cultures. There's a war going on but we see the war through the eyes of the white culture. All the rumors and stories we hear are told through the white characters. (I'm kinda talking about the American media and how American culture views the resources of the world as its right. But I am more concerned with the path this white warrior takes as he realizes he and his culture are wrong.)

My friend -- as I said she is majorly into white feminism-- said I should have a female main character. She wasn't interested in hearing about the boys. When I told her all the above she got angry with me and said I was not listening to her because I was too committed to what I had on the page. Duh!!! (Not true btw. She told me to rework my synopsis and I did. She told me to rework several chapters and I did. So I DO listen to her. Except in this.)

Okay, the fact that I have two sons and I want to talk about the brainwashing being given to American boys of all colors...and I'm also talking about war and resources and the food crisis, I think I'm being pretty liberal and enlightened. She thought not. Simply because I had a male protag. Come on now! I hope I'm not wimping out on this nobel..but I DO think my story set up is valid. Especially since the Christian publisher still hasn't told me if he is really going to accept it with all the "different" stuff I've already put in the novel.

This white feminist and I had a good relationship but she just doesn't think racism compares to sexism and even went so far as to say no feminist is racist...because feminism is a system that tries to help all the oppressed. Yeah, right. I've told her over and over that white feminists are used to setting the agenda on what feminism is and they should stop telling black women what is or is not feminist. (Heck, most white feminists remind me of horrible tyrannical white lady bosses I've had.)

Whites have had their time talking about our culture in their paternalistic superior ways. Why can't a black author talk about their paternalistic superior ways in a novel? The country is so fr*ggin racist and I want to do my share of speaking to racist so-called Christians. There is nothing - not even art-- that we can do about changing folks but I can at least say that a black woman wrote a Christian fantasy about racism that was published by a Christian company. Even if I can't change the hearts of white racist Christians, I can heal our people's hearts and cure us of this racial stockholm syndrome/self-loathing that living in our culture creates.

I told her all this but she doesn't agree with me.
So...I'm thinking that either she A) a feminist who simply wants me to write about women ALL the time or B) a racist who simply doesn't want to be challenged by a black author daring to depict her culture or C) an academic snob who thinks that my plan won't work because I simply am not creatively capable of doing it. You know how they do...thinking we have great ideas but somehow we don't have the skills to do it well. They always think we are not capable.

And frankly, she pissed me off. -C

-C
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