Why I’m glad Marlon James is through Talking about Diversity

Why I’m glad Marlon James is through Talking about Diversity

When Marlon James talks about diversity he talks in the liberal language of the audience he rightly feels can’t properly grasp diversity or its meaning and necessity. But nor can this audience do anything about it. Nor does it want to. So Marlon James cannot with his editorial words to do anything for the non-white, sexually heterodox people he champions. The best thing Marlon James can do is write fiction.

If Marlon James writes, diversity thrives. James is black, and from a post-colonial island. He speaks from two non-orthodox groups. White US Americans will always write and under the current socioeconomic system they will always thrive, will always be privileged. With the rise in recent decades of an abundance of woman writers, and more recently Indian, Korean, Chinese, African, African-American, gay, trans, and various other non-orthodox writers, diversity has proven it exists. What James laments essentially is the existence of socioeconomic disparities inherent to an oligarchic sociopolitical system with a racist and nationalist underpinning. Liberals are an essential pillar of that system. He should stop writing to them in their language. He is not one of them, and no sane anti-oligarch would want him to be one.

I read whatever the non-orthodox, Japanese-American, culturally somewhat Mexican Sesshu Foster of Los Angeles writes. Why? Because he is not writing to liberals. He’s writing on behalf of the victims of the oligarchic system in the United States. Who is he writing to? I would say he’s writing from. And if you want to read Sesshu Foster, you have to go to where he has established his world. It is not a world made for white liberals.

I’m white, so the best I can do is write against the oligarchic system. Non-white writers do best to write powerfully from a place alien to the orthodox, the liberal, the white. Marlon James’ discouragement is essential to the very process he is discouraged by, as it is hosted by the oligarchic, white patriarchal orthodox system; it is an attempt to alter that system from inside the mighty jaws of easy cooptation.

Stay diverse, Marlon James: that’s the most powerful thing you can do. And when your publisher wants to lay on you a cover with colors and design that scream your blackness, tell them to fuck off.


Rick Harsch