Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Born To Be White: How Biracial Historical Heroes Reinforce The Status Quo


I was in the shower, thinking about how much I enjoyed KJ Charles’ Unfit to Print and its two POC leads, when I had a revelation about books I don’t enjoy so much. Why do half-Indian heroes in most historical romances continue to bother me so damn much? Not just because they don’t engage with biracial identity or transracial adoption or anything of that nature in any meaningful way, but also because they reinforce the relationship between white adjacency and white supremacy. When that hit me, I practically skidded across the tub from the force of the “duh!” The whole point of these sexy dukes and earls and generally wealthy hunks with tans is that they can move in white worlds. They “belong” in ballrooms, in clubs, in the House of Lords. It’s aspirational, inspirational. I mean, heavens, we wouldn’t want them otherwise, would we?

 It kind of reminds me of that scene in The Ten Commandments where Nefretiri comes to visit Moses in the mud pits (let’s linger, momentarily, on the irony of me citing a film where two white actors playing an Egyptian woman and a Jewish man, respectively). There is naked lust in her eyes. She doesn’t mind his reversal of fortune one bit, as it allows her to enjoy his sun-bronzed and dirt-speckled chest. But, ugh, one thing bugs her: “They may be your people, but do you have to wallow with them, smell like them?” she huffs of his choice to stay and toil with the enslaved people in Goshen. Do you have to smell like them? In other words: Be as diverse as you want, embrace your heritage…but it has to be in my world, where I’m comfortable. As long as it serves me and my sexual and political needs. As long as you can still be Prince of Egypt. Be who you are on my terms. Gee, why does that sound familiar?  

Because it’s everywhere in romantic fiction by white women. Because it’s everywhere in our world. People of color, people from marginalized communities, are only useful if they are tools to maintain the status quo. If they fit in with the white cishet ideal without making waves. So, heroes like the ones in Eloisa James’ Born to Be Wilde, Katharine Ashe’s In the Arms of a Marquess, and various books by Mary Jo Putney…they are basically the Regency Model Minority. The “good” brown men who fit right in, who don’t flaunt their Otherness, who never make white people question their whiteness. They don’t go to temple. They don’t associate with any other brown folks. They only speak English. They don’t smell like curry (but sandalwood is okay!), because they don’t eat it unless their white friends have expressed interest in Indian cuisine. They think wealth and social status are the great equalizer—and in most historical romances they certainly are: The whole reason that these male characters can marry white women and live happily ever after is because they are rich enough for their racial identity to matter just a little less. Money and power allows them access, acceptability…to assimilate, not integrate.  

Applied to our current political climate, that philosophy is even less romantic. All of these dudes would be pro-45 Republicans in the US and pro-Brexit Conservatives in the UK. That’s right. We’re talking Dinesh D’Souza, Ajit Pai, Shiva Ayyadurai. (Albeit much lighter skinned, of course.) Really sexy right? Are your loins afire yet? I’m sure this would horrify many white historical romance authors who consider themselves progressive feminists. But that’s what happens when you don’t engage intersectionally, when you only look at your decisions through a white lens. When you assume that hanging out exclusively with white people, in a white society, is what all POC must aspire to. You completely miss the damage of the model minority myth, of assimilation, of how desperately trying to pander to white supremacy has led to upheaval within communities of color.   

“They may be your people, but do you have to wallow with them, smell like them?”

Yeah. Yeah, we do. And it’s better than smelling like racist bullshit.  

23 comments:

  1. Really appreciate you sharing this article post. Really thank you! Really Cool. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  2. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article!
    It is the little changes that make the greatest changes. Thanks a lot
    for sharing! 경마

    ReplyDelete
  3. This type of article will be able to think and analyzed to the readers thats leads them in a bright future. I think this is one of the most significant information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really great. 야동비즈

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job ! 야한동영상넷

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and new initiatives in the same niche. Blog gave us useful information to work. You have done an amazing job! 한국야동닷컴

    ReplyDelete
  6. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good. Thanks a lot!
    야동

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is also a very good post which I really enjoy reading. It is not everyday that I have the possibility to see something like this.
    중국야동넷

    ReplyDelete
  8. Looking at this article, I miss the time when I didn't wear a mask. Kèonhàcái Hopefully this corona will end soon. My blog is a blog that mainly posts pictures of daily life before Corona and landscapes at that time. If you want to remember that time again, please visit us.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In the meantime, I wondered why I couldn’t think of the answer to this simple problem like this.
    Your article is an article that gives the answer to all the content I’ve been contemplating'

    Also visit my site : 샌즈카지노
    (mie)

    ReplyDelete
  11. What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely useful and it has helped me out loads.
    I’m hoping to give a contribution & assist different customers like its
    aided me. Good job.Click Me Here 경마사이트


    3YAGKIE

    ReplyDelete
  12. Really no matter if someone doesn't be aware of after that its up to other users that they will help, so here it takes place bongdo.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It’s truly a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you simply shared this helpful information with us.

    슬롯머신777사이트

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi! this is often nice article you shared with great information. Thanks for giving such an exquisite informative information. 토토

    ReplyDelete
  15. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  16. Common outings let us discuss simplest way to thanks a ton for your personal efforts, which will is why I’m just checking out the positioning on a daily basis, interested in innovative, helpful information and facts. Lots of, thanks a lot! 경마

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value. Im glad to have found this post as its such an interesting one! 바카라사이트

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am always on the lookout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found this! I hope you will be adding more in the future 카지노사이트

    ReplyDelete
  19. This site and I consider this web website is extremely instructive! Keep on setting up!

    토토
    바카라사이트
    파워볼
    카지노사이트

    ReplyDelete
  20. This post is extremely superb. I extremely like this post. It is outstanding among other posts that I see read in quite a while. You rock for this better than average post. I truly value it!

    스포츠토토
    토토
    안전놀이터
    토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  21. Exceptionally marvelous !!! When I look for this I discovered this site at the highest point of all websites in web crawler. Personally I think overjoyed I discovered the blogs.

    사설토토
    카지노
    파워볼사이트
    바카라사이트

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey this can be a great looking site, is wordpress? Forgive me for the dumb question – but if so, what theme is? Thanks!
    오피월드

    oworldsmewep

    ReplyDelete