We interrupt our regular schedule to bring you this post.
This is not my usual type of SPOTLIGHT posts. Not even close.
But I am tired, you guys. I am so tired.
How many times do we – readers of colour – have to remind other readers that you can educate yourselves? How many times do we have to inform you about things you feel entitled to knowing by, what? Reading a book by an author of colour? How many times do we have to point out that authors of colour aren’t there to educate you, but to tell stories? Sometimes those stories include a little bit of the things you feel entitled knowing, sometimes they don’t!
BUT YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO THEM HAVING TO SPELL EVERYTHING OUT FOR YOU.
(Let’s be real, if they did that, you’d find something else to complain about. Probably the fact that the ‘info-dumping detracted from the story’ or whatever. Authors of colour have to work twice as hard to get nearly half as far as others and if the rest of the community could acknowledge that, it would be great.)
The irony of having to educate someone on learning to educate themselves is not lost on me.
Why am I posting about this today?
Because I came across this gem – again, might I add – on Twitter, and got mad again.
“…that would require Menon to explain a goddamn thing about Indian culture.”
REQUIRE?? Um, if you wanted a book chockful of nitty gritty explanations of Indian culture, I hate to break it to you, but a fluffy rom-com was not the one to pick up. The phrasing of this is just so condescending and entitled and it will never not make me angry.
Thankfully, Vanshika (@VanshikaPrusty) was much better at articulating herself than I could be, and posted a thread on Twitter! I would definitely recommend everyone to read the whole thing because guess what?
We are not here to educate you! Authors of colour are not here to educate you!
Honestly, this whole thing about names annoys me so much. These names are the names of REAL-LIFE PEOPLE! Sometimes they are the actual names of the people – which is okay! – and sometimes names like Pinky and Sweetie are (family) pet names for the people – which is also okay! They do not have to be explained! Why should they be?
Are you going to explain to me why Hermione Granger or Harry Potter are named those names? Did you expect J.K. Rowling to explain that to us in the text itself?
So why does Sandhya have to explain why Dimple is named Dimple? Why Twinkle is named Twinkle?
I’m not going to go on to yell about how expecting us to educate you on our cultures is so dangerous because Vanshika did in the thread – seriously, read her fucking thread and LEARN SOMETHING FROM IT – but I will reiterate, expecting ONE PERSON to educate you on cultures that are so vast and rich and diverse in and of themselves is FUCKING DANGEROUS. Less so to you, because you can easily brush it off as ‘oh, so-and-so said’ or ‘so-and-so wrote’, but more for the person who you are putting all this pressure on!
In the end, they are the ones that are going to be called out and attacked for the fact that their point of view is only one point of view, but you have taken it as a given for everyone and applied it to everyone, they will be in trouble. Even if they have never given any indication that they believe it to be a blanket point of view.
It is just so rage-inducing to think that in the end of it all, we are damned if we do (educate you) and damned if we don’t.
So please, please, please, for the love of everything and my sanity, learn how to educate yourselves. Don’t put the onus on us, because we fucking deserve better. We deserve to be treated like human beings, not encyclopedias.