About a year ago, John Scalzi wrote a post about how "being white is the easy setting in the game of life."

Right there we see that he's assuming middle class, Midwestern Americans, because there are quite a few places in the world where being white won't help you at all.  He's basing his assessment of humanity on his own upbringing in a very nice part of Ohio.  Subjective, and incomplete.

He got flak. You won't find a lot of it because it's the kind of discussion he feels has to be "carefully managed."

He plans to do a followup:


"Hey, remember a year ago when I wrote a piece talking about how being a straight white male was like playing the game of life on the lowest difficulty setting? And then a bunch of straight white dudes lost their minds about it?"

TRANSLATION:  "I demeaned a group based on their race.  By objecting to this, they're racist, even if they're not of that race."

Actually, no, John. A bunch of people of various ethnic backgrounds, from Hispanic to non-American white to black to mixed Native American and black took issue with it, because it was at best shallow, and at worst a projection of white liberal guilt.  http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/thoughts-and-interviews-on-race-and-culture

Predictably, when invited to discuss the issue further with the above people, in a polite email, Scalzi completely ignored the issue.  I can't presume his motives, but someone did suggest that the purpose of his posts is more to promote his books in the guilt-ridden, white, racist, liberal sellout market than to actually accomplish debate.  To support this, they offered his tendency to "carefully manage" blog comments (newspeak for "censor dissenting opinions").

In fact, even a BLACK liberal writer made several critiques of his position, starting with Scalzi's own self-described "passive-aggressive" approach to never identifying characters' race, so people can "assume" whatever they want, which means, of course, the whites generally assume the characters are white, and in a white-dominated nation, those of other ethnicities do too, because that's the default setting in contemporary America that he mentioned.  In other words, he's not actually doing anything about the problem except whining. 

But for dissenting with him, he seems to presume I'm prejudiced, when I've written POV characters who are identified as female, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, bisexual, transsexual and even white.  Projecting much?

But note:  His assumption is that dissenters MUST be white, and MUST be angry with the fact that they're privileged.  I do sense projection here, because this is the man who defines "being poor" as being ashamed of a free school lunch, or not paying utility bills on time.  Which sounds tragic to people who saved every penny to move nations, learned new languages, worked in the sex industry to pay bills, stole food from work or simply got no lunch at all, and I know plenty of such, and even fit a couple of those categories myself.  So as I've said before:  I have no doubt from his scribblings that Scalzi played life on the easy setting.  Now that he's gotten rich, he needs to properly excoriate his success to avoid being a bad liberal.

An actual racist (I've met a few) would say, "Well, yes, I've done well, because I'm genetically and intellectually better than those lesser races."  They would have no reason to get upset with his post, because it would tell them exactly what they wanted to hear:  That they're at the top of the heap, awesome.

Now, there is racism in America (why, I don't know.  I'm an immigrant, I don't get it, and as I've said before, you all look like Americans to me.  Most people accept that statement.  I've had a few people, always "liberal," tell me that I don't see any difference because I'm "white."  And 95 times out of 100, it's a white "liberal" who brings up race first.)  And the ways to defeat racism generally come down to treating individuals on their merits, and attempting to correct injustice when identified.

Writing all your characters as default setting whites, shouting "RACIST!" and culling blog posts is probably not an ideal way to accomplish either goal.  I had lengthy discussions with black writers and editors about Scalzi's post, and their concurrence seemed to be that it was shallow.  I'll go a step further:  It was an elitist white male passively-aggressively talking down to others about how awesome he is, but he feels guilty about it, so don't judge him too harshly. 

Sorry, John, if you assume that ONLY white males could disagree, that any dissenter MUST fit that demographic, that your subjective opinion is inerrant, you have the problem. 

Blog posts won't fix it.