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.