IMO: I can’t write.

When I was working on my MFA in Creative Writing, my first manuscript concerned an African American family in 1900. I asked my mentors, “How do I realistically create African American characters? How do I know how they felt?” Their answer for portraying people of color, gender, Jews, Asians, and Native Americans was to reveal the universal qualities intrinsic to us all. I took that to heart. So I created a Native American character in my second book. In the third novel, I’m creating Jewish sisters and exploring Japanese racism in the Pacific theater of World War II. Apparently, that’s a big no-no.

In the last decade, there is a backlash to my privileged life as a white woman. In fact, I am told, I am unqualified to write about diverse characters because I will inherently instill tropes and stereotypes that are insulting. Or, I will become the white savior who attempts to elevate the marginalized but in doing so, I discredit the group.

Though my heart is in the right place, it is misguided. While I want to showcase marginalized members of history, creating fictional characters unlike me is the wrong thing to do. When I started my academic journey in the early 90s, I rode the progressive wave–teach the history of the marginalized. Let’s change the canon. Now I feel like my surfboard cracked in half, and I’ve been kicked out of the club.

Well, shit.

I spent a great deal of time and money becoming a social historian. I love the research. Are the same issues facing white historians? Do I just give up writing, then? Or just write about white women? I am really fascinated by Jewish, African American, Native, and Asian history. I find their stories more interesting than my own. Here’s the informational article that got me thinking:

I wonder how one respectfully gets around this writing obstacle? This extends to films, naturally. I just showed students Invictus as a way to connect my African American students to apartheid and racism. Nelson Mandela is certainly worth celebrating. Should Clint Eastwood have made that film? What about his film Gran Torino? Am I obtuse?

I’m not angry or pouting. I’m more curious in this day and age what is the answer?

Are you not entertained? TV Series

I have fallen into the habit of watching television series after dinner. I’m partial to historical plots.

Many are too long and too much like a soap opera, but occasionally I get sucked into the narrative and cannot wait for the next episode like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or The Queen’s Gambit. If I learned something new, and the writing was decent, I forgave cheesiness and improbability. Have you seen these?

Lucy, a historian, Wyatt, a soldier, and Rufus, a scientist, unite to form an unlikely partnership, traveling through time to save history.  Why I like it: time travel! Recreates the historical climate well. Rufus is black, and the most interesting character — his African American perspective of US History is priceless. Visiting famous people, places and key events of US History was fun. I learned something new every episode. 2 seasons. Prime.
This French series involves a female detective duo. Impeccable Astrid has Asbergers and helps solve murder investigations with her messy, police commander. It has heart. Astrid, played by Sarah Mortensen, is a marvelous, memorable character. I watched it on prime, BBC Masterpiece Theater.
Pierce Bronson plays Eli McCoulagh, father of a Texas oil dynasty. The two-season series demonstrated the collision of cultures between the Cherokee, the Tex-Mex Tejanos, and the oil barons of Texas history. The book was better, of course, written by Philipp Meyer in 2013. Honestly, I could not keep my eyes off of Pierce. Great acting! Prime and Hulu.
Perfect late-night viewing.

I recommend reading Kristin Hunt‘s article featuring the fact and fiction behind Ryan Murphy’s Netflix original series, Hollywood. She says, “Although Hollywood features several real-life celebrities, directors, and agents, their biographies are intentionally pumped full of lies to suit the limited series’s alternative history, which imagines how life might’ve been different for queer, black, and brown entertainers if racism and homophobia were not barriers to their success.” I thought the series was a bolt of pizazz. I am a sucker for old Hollywood, and I liked the alternate history. Read Hunt’s article here:


Never have I witnessed the perspective of women who journeyed to Jamestown, Virginia in the 1600s explored before. That unique perspective was highly entertaining. It was another historical series showcasing the clash of cultures. The Powhatan culture. The British class system. The beginning of slavery–it’s all there.

Have you seen any of these?

A Website.

Up ↑