The Great White Social Justice Novel
Why does the publishing industry elevate white writers over #ownvoices writers when it comes to the experiences of communities of colour? It happens because books like American Dirt and Act of Grace fit comfortably with mainstream stereotypes, they don’t challenge white and Western readers to think and see First Nations people and people of colour in their depth and complexity. It happens because the sensationalist depiction of brutal violence and trauma in the Great White Novel sells. Both American Dirt and Act of Grace have plenty of stomach-turning scenes of gratuitous violence, rapes, and beatings. At a time when there is global concern about the plight facing refugees, migrant children being caged and separated from parents, the horrors of offshore detention and border walls, the publishing industry has peddled us these exploitative and cartoonish depictions that produce an easy empathy rather than forcing readers to reckon with their own positionality in structures of power, and the deeper problems that require action.