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I'm currently writing about Patricia Wrightson's last novel, Shadows of Time. #phdlife There are two child protagonists; one white, one Aboriginal. Wrightson doesn't give the male Aboriginal child a name, because he won't share his true with the white girl.
So she (the girl child) calls him Boy, refusing to use the alternative name her offers her. Now, we all know about the pejorative use of the word Boy when applied to black males, and even if (BIG if) Wrightson wasn't aware of it in the mid 90s, I'm stuck with having to use it.
So now, in attempting to write a PhD that addresses the privileging of white experience in children's books, I am snookered into calling him Boy because it's the only name he's given. Even just using it with a lower case as a generic noun doesn't make it feel any better.
I'm finding it incredibly uncomfortable. One of my supervisors is a brilliant Aboriginal woman, and I will discuss it with her, but she's currently on leave. I am just going to have to push through & take her advice about editing once she gets to read it (once I've written it).
Obviously I will address the naming issue, but I still have to talk about him beyond that. (There's plenty more to say about her false equivalence of Aboriginal culture with settler-colonialism, oi vey).
Actually, of course, white experience is privileged, by the white child being granted Indigenous knowledge that ultimately is superior to the boy's. White saviour narrative, ultimately. Wrightson was a beautiful writer, but so blind to her own privilege.
If anyone has experienced something like this, I'd love to hear from you as to how you addressed it. I am trying so hard to be aware of the colonising use of language and avoid it in my work, but like I said, I feel snookered here.
(Also, a friend has suggested I ask the Nation he comes from, but of course, there's no identification in the book. I'm not sure that would work anyway, given the men of his tribe want to kill him because he has white blood. Sigh.)
Do your thang, @threadreaderapp unroll me.
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