Africa is not a country

It turns out that it is Banned Word Week here at Fangs and Clause. I read a lot of mysteries. Some of them are amazing, but others of them are just this side of schlocktastic. But I’m beginning to understand why Paternal Clause never read fiction.

If I were more like Paternal Clause, I would have been bothered by the depiction of the hurricane bearing down on the location of my most recent mystery novel. And I was bothered, but I let it slide. But when the main character seeks help from an academic, who in various points of the book, is purported to be an anthropologist, have a degree in African American studies as well as a degree in African cultural studies, I get a little upset.

And it’s not even the dim knowledge of how academia works (that field is way too wide for one poor professor). Even that I can give a pass. It’s the idea that African cultural studies is one thing.

Africa is made up of 54 countries, its people speak a thousand languages from 15 language groups, and according to Wikipedia (I am not proud), there are also over a thousand ethnic groups on the continent. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the African diaspora that is even more relevant to the plot line.

I blame the author, but I also blame the copyeditor. The author is trying to make sure the killer is going to be caught in a reasonable matter and to juggle various points of plot, place, and character; but it’s the copyeditor who must question everything and save the freaking author from herself.

But I also blame our educational system. When I was in high school our world history class was a western civilization class. When I asked my teacher why, she said there wasn’t enough time to teach real world history, and most of the ancestry of her students were European. Which is funny, because I always thought my high school was half-white and half-black.

So, copyeditors and writers alike, beware of monolithic thinking. Africa is not a country, Southerners are not all racist (some of them are black and even *gasp* Asian), Westerners are not all cowboys. I could go on, but I’ve got paying work to do.

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3 responses to “Africa is not a country

  1. Amen, Sister! I’m loving the passion of Banned Word Week. I wish more writers, more folks, understood how monolithic thinking pokes holes into any point they’re trying to make. I know I slip sometimes. That’s why I proofread myself so much that my eyes get bleary. I want to make sure I’m saying what I think I’m saying. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I’ve been reading better books recently and have less to complain about. But I have continued this conversation—in a way—on my new real-person blog. Can’t tell you the name here, but I just followed your blog with my real-person persona.

      Eat this blog comment when you finish reading. 🙂

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