Kung Fu Hustle


Monday, February 24, 2014

My response to an article by Michi Trota

Below is my response to Michi Trota's essay, I Don't See Color on Jim Hines' blog.

Let me start by saying thank you for your article and I really appreciate what you have written. I have a slightly different opinion. I see color. As someone who dabbles in art, you have to. You can’t always paint in monochromes. I see people in much the same way. I look at people through their cultures (usually food). Everyone uses pretty much the same stuff when cooking, what changes is the spice. And remember, variety is the spice of life.
One of the best books I have read recently is Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson. In this story, there is only one white character, a Muslim woman. All the other characters are Middle Eastern, but they are all interesting and smart. A different culture presented well.
Kylie Chan has a series of books that deals with Chinese Mythology and Martial Arts. True, she is not Asian, but she does write about the main character, an Australian woman, who loves a Chinese god and lives in Hong Kong. The only thing both these books have in common are that they are very readable and do not focus on white culture. I could give you more examples dealing with Australian Mythos, Hindu gods, African gods and Norse vs South American gods, all good stories, just using different colors.
Maybe part of the reason I look for stories dealing with different cultures is because I am a frustrated traveler. I would love to go around the world drinking in the differences in each country. Meeting new people, exchanging ideas and finding points of commonality. I spent this weekend taking my wife to fashion expo with clothes from India and Bangladesh. We were invited to go by a former co-worker. So while my wife shopped I talked with one of the guys working there, a film student, about the films of Stephen Chow and how I was watching Shaolin Soccer on a local Spanish language channel, but having seen the film before I could follow pretty well. That gives you a white guy talking to an India guy about a Chinese film in Spanish.
What I am trying to get across is that you should not be afraid to write about anything that interests you. You are the girl who brought chicharrĂ³n with spicy vinegar and garlic pork-filled siopao to the annual block party. Do the same with your writing (if you want). Sure, if you love a pseudo-European Tolkienesque world, go for it. But, if you want to write about the Philippines, there doesn’t seem to be much competition out there. I would think a story that has a knifefighting-based martial art form that shares the name of a Hindu goddess of chaos and destruction might be a good starting point (Kali). Or a story that includes a nice recipe for siopao.

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