So let’s talk about cultural appropriation. J K Rowling got a tongue-lashing this week from an American academic with a big Cherokee Nation axe to grind. JK has apparently dared to venture onto the hallowed ground of Native American beliefs and written, on her website, about skin-walking. Miss Rowling doesn’t need me to defend her but I do think I should say a word or two on behalf of writers in general.
If academics (and you will notice it is almost always university teachers or students) are going to dictate what fiction writers can and can’t do we might as well screw the tops back on our pens and go home. If writers only wrote about their own little corner of the universe we’d be the very much poorer for it. No wrong has been done the Cherokee Nation by what J K Rowling wrote. Indeed some people may have had their interest piqued and gone on to learn more. I think what we’re seeing here is not a successful writer trampling over a people’s culture but a serious ‘sense of proportion failure’ in Dr Adrienne Keene.
Writers, in the West at any rate, are free to write whatever they please. If people don’t like what they read they’ll stop buying a writer’s books. Like J K Rowling should lose any sleep over that!