From One Writer to Another: Dear JK Rowling

Dear JK Rowling,

Can I just refer to you as JK? We are Peers and, therefore, equals. Now, you may not consider me an equal, but I am. I too am a writer. I may not have had the success that you have, but I have published poems outside of this blog and am still querying an agent for my novel. Regardless of our individual successes, we are peers and like it or not, I must write to you. You recently did an open letter asking for the abolishment of “cancel culture” and got some notable names to sign it. I do not agree with your opinion. It reeks of extreme white privilege and a need to justify oneself for hurting others. In other words, you went FULL KAREN and asked to speak to the head manager of Society.

Now, before we get into the letter, I want to take a look back at your legacy, because it IS your legacy, like it or not.

I was in College when your books first started getting noticed here in the States. Having always loved language and the works of Tolkien , Shakespeare, and Maya Angelou, your first HP book was recommended to me by an English Professor. I was charmed by the simple tale of Good vs Evil. It fits very easily into the Joseph Campbell Mythos format. I have no qualms about stating that I did purchase your first HP book and subsequently the others as they were released. As a mixed WOC, I saw myself in Hermione. She was very clearly written in the first 3 books as having features of mixed parentage (overly frizzy/kinky hair, big front teeth speaks of someone who is African & Asian based on those stereotypical descriptions). Hell, I thought Mudblood was clearly a nod to being called “colored.” And you tended to use very base stereotypes for the other non-whites in the novel. The Patel twins are described as being silly, into fashion & boys (which, is NOT typical of Desi girls unless all your knowledge stems from watching one Bollywood film for 5 minutes). Cho Chang’s very name smacks of Asian stereotype. So yes, right from the start I had an issue with how you portrayed POC. Yet I still read the books, still purchased them, still enjoyed them. Tolkien never really has any POC in his works and I still enjoy them. I do feel it’s perfectly acceptable to read authors who don’t have everyone represented because it’s a slice of their view of the world. Just like Nella Larsen’s Passing is more about the African- American community and the restrictions placed on them by society. It may not be a novel for everyone, but many can read and enjoy it and not be African-American.

Then the films of HP came out. And Hermione was white washed but given full on kinky overblown AFRO hair. The Patel Twins were made even more ridiculous and Dean Thomas was made black as a token character. You know what would have been nice? Showing a professor or two being of color. No where in your novels does it state all the professors are white. No where. Heck, I would have been thrilled if one or two of the professors was of color, as I am sure many fans would have been as well. Your insistence on using only British actors and actresses didn’t bother me, but the insistence of only using white ones for adult roles did. In fact, there’s hardly any non whites in the films at all, and that’s just heartbreaking.

Then once the films came out, you started re-conning the hell out of your own creation to try and make things fit. For instance, you insisted there was A Jewish student there and they were allowed to celebrate Jewish Holidays. Great. But no where in your novels did you show any holiday being celebrated at Hogwarts besides Christmas. I read nothing showing Hanuka, Eid, or even Holi being celebrated. Even a line or two would have shown this. Then you were insistent that Dumbledore was gay. Ok. Great. I have no issue with Dumbledore being homosexual. It would have been nice to know if he had a long standing partner BESIDES Grimwald. Like a note in his will, a picture in his office…something to hint he had a significant other at some pint and had a healthy relationship.

Then you introduced America’s version of Hogwarts and totally ripped off Indigenous People’s beliefs, but so goddamn BADLY. Like, you DO have access to a library, right? I’m fairly certain Edinburgh has a University and a library (not to mention professors) who would have been pleased as punch to help you with constructing an American magical system that didn’t completely feel like Mickey Rooney as Mr Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Then you HAD to make Nagini a female Asian character who, get this, transforms into a huge snake. Did you really have to resurrect the whole Dragon Lady? Like what level of FUCKERY made you think it was perfectly acceptable to do this? Those of us who are Asian/Arab/Desi/Middle Eastern/SE Asian and female, we already have to deal with the stereotypes that we are sexually repressed, sluts, exotic, airheads, and little girls. We really did not need the Dragon Lady to come back.

Now, I’m going to talk about the main issue as to why you wrote the “let’s cancel cancel culture” letter: transgender people. Your insistence that women who don’t menstruate aren’t women. Well, JK, hate to go all biological and sciencey on you, but not all women menstruate. Before puberty, females don’t menstruate. So, by your “logic”, my three year old niece isn’t really female because she doesn’t menstruate. My mom doesn’t due to having a hysterectomy, therefore she isn’t female either. Women who have gone into menopause are also not female by your reasoning. And I myself must not be female because I did not always menstruate on a regular basis due to medical issues. Then there are women who are born without ovaries or have ovaries that just don’t function properly. I guess they aren’t women either. I guess women who are pregnant aren’t women because they don’t have periods while pregnant. Nor are women who use IUDs as they stop having regular periods for 3 to 5 years.

You cannot (and I must stress this) CANNOT base someone’s gender solely on whether or not they menstruate. You and Margaret Atwood can kiss my ass because this isn’t Gilead and I refuse to be labeled as female solely on the basis of whether or not I have a period because no where did you ever insist that men have to be capable of producing sperm to be considered men. And why is that? Is it because it never crossed your mind? Or are you going to be insistent that only men who have penises are actual men, thereby making men who have suffered injuries to that region and may not have one anymore as gender less. See the issue JK? Equating a gender on sexual organs is stupid because what exists below my waist (or anyone’s waist) is none of your goddamn business. TRANS WOMEN ARE WOMEN. TRANS MEN ARE MEN. They have always existed and will always exist. This is not up for debate here

You come from a background of extreme white privilege. You really haven’t had to suffer nor deal with issues like this of us who are not white and those who struggle with their gender and sexual identity. You barely struggled when it came to finding an agent to publish your book. You queried a handful of people and got an agent right away. That is extremely rare in the publishing field. Stephen King, whom you’ve decided to unfollow, was rejected over 70 times for “Carrie”, which is a masterpiece of horror and suspense. He has struggled to be heard and has always tried his best to learn from his mistakes and listen. Listening is so important here. Clearly it’s a skill you seemed to be lacking in. Your refusal to listen, learn, and accept you were ignorant on the subject of trans people shows how out of touch with reality you are.

You are upset because there’s a whole generation of trans people who sought solace in your books and have now decided that you aren’t worth supporting anymore. They aren’t cancelling you. They have decided to remove the toxicity that is YOU from their lives. Now, I won’t be destroying your books nor will I get rid of the DVDS. I’ve already paid for them and you’ve already been paid by them. But when my niece is old enough and wants to read them, I want her to ask me questions as to why she, a mixed child, has no representation in your books. I want her to ask the same thing regarding Tolkien. Or why Shylock is such a problematic character. I want there to be an open dialogue. I want her to know that it’s perfectly fine to read Austen and ask questions about the lack of representation. Because there is nothing wrong with asking and finding out. You are not being cancelled JK. People just don’t want to deal with your toxic bullshit anymore. This isn’t repressing your right to free speech. You can say whatever you wish to say on any subject. I won’t stop you. Go ahead. This doesn’t mean I have to listen to it.

Freedom works both ways JK. You have to freedom to not accept Trans people. I have the freedom to accept Trans people, support them, and be an Ally to all members o the LGTBQ+ Community.

Now, I’m not saying my novels are perfect and represent everyone. But I am trying to represent a few. I have written people of color back into Austen. I have members of the LGTBQ+ community in them as well. Are there a lot? To be perfectly honest, there are not. But the mere fact that I am trying speaks way more about my character, my integrity, and writing style than anything else. My novels won’t be perfect. But at least some one of color can pick it up and find a character like them. And a kid struggling with gender or sexual identity may find some resonance with a character that I wrote. Even if for a little while. I would rather try to put history and facts back into Austen and make it engaging, then complain to the manager that life is unfair. Though I will state it takes balls to complain about life being unfair whilst living on an Estate in Edinburgh, being a multi-millionaire, being British and living in Scotland. But hey JK, you do you.

Sincerly,

SZJR

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