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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:45 am 
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I would certainly have something to say in such a thread, having seen a 12 step program work up close and personal.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:32 am 
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http://www.laweekly.com/index.php?option=com_lawcontent&task=view&id=12468&Itemid=47

Another one, this time a white writer of gay erotica pretending to be a Navajo.

This article contains some vulgar language, including some words that are blocked by this website. Please don't click on the link if such language upsets you, if you are a minor or if your web use may be monitored.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 3:09 am 
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Whistler wrote:
http://www.laweekly.com/index.php?option=com_lawcontent&task=view&id=12468&Itemid=47

Another one, this time a white writer of gay erotica pretending to be a Navajo.

This article contains some vulgar language, including some words that are blocked by this website. Please don't click on the link if such language upsets you, if you are a minor or if your web use may be monitored.


Jeez. I'll take your word for it!

As for the 12 step programs, yes, I think we need a thread about that. I might have time tomorrow.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 3:18 am 
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Thanks for the language warning, Whistler. Good idea to have added that.

Well, I found this piece a lot more infuriating that the Frey book, because I don't believe that a Native American editor would have been fooled for five minutes by a White man pretending to be a Navajo. But our majority culture is so used to hearing stand-ins speak on behalf of minorities that we really don't know what an authentic minority voice sounds like.

Once upon a time I had to write an historical synopsis of a particular Native American (Central American) experience for a press package - it was very brief, just one page, and it was a history that I knew well ... but only, as I later realized, from the Spanish perspective. As a courtesy really, I gave it to a lawyer who was a member of the People in question to read for accuracy, confident that there were no serious errors.

He called me on the phone to congratulate me on an excellent piece of misrepresentation. "But it doesn't matter," he added, "your readers are all White and they'll know what you're talking about."

"That wasn't really my intention - a misrepresentation of the Indian point of view that would be palatable to White people," I told him, and invited him to explain how this view misrepresented his people. Several hours later, and a trip to Washington to meet him personally and hear more of his story, led me to conclude that although we were all speaking English, none of us has a clue what the people on the other side of the racial divide are saying.

That particular piece was redrafted (with a great deal more work than a press release usually deserves) but I realized that we have never heard the Indian story from Indian mouths. We always hear what happened to the Indians from a textbook written by a White man. And we have absolutely no clue what those people really experienced and what meaning they give to it, and how they view it historically today. And I was determined not to perpetuate that error.

Since then I've never spoken about minority history to my classes but brought in a member of the minority to speak on their own behalf. No matter how much I would study a minority situation, I could never speak with an authentic voice on behalf of some group of which I was not a member.

I can assure you that a Native American knows the voice of a White man when he hears it. It is not surprising that this fraud was uncovered by a Native American, and if publishers used Native editors to vet Native authors' books, and Black editors to vet Black author's books (which only one publishing house does, to my knowledge), this kind of mistake would not be made in the first place.

It is really disturbing to me that our frenetic consumer culture just leaps onto any novelty and hardly asks or cares whether the story we are hearing can possibly be true.

Has anyone here read Leslie Silko's book, Almanac of the Dead? I might start a thread about it in the library if there are any takers because it is a good example of how an authentic voice sounds like an alien from another planet, and how hard one has to work to understand a foreign perspective when it is written to be heard and not just to pander.

Jn

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 3:24 am 
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Very good observations, Jn. I'm glad you found that article as revealing as I did. I wonder how much of what we read and hear, even from "respected" sources, is bunk from start to finish?

I wonder, but I don't want to know.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 6:21 am 
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vison wrote:
As for the 12 step programs, yes, I think we need a thread about that. I might have time tomorrow.


If you do, please do so in Bag End so that people can feel free to post personal information without worrying about the Google bots.

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