I’ve argued before and I’ll say this again — there is no substitute for authors from a particular culture or community writing from their own perspectives, whether they are writing SF or something else. So I just want to give a shout-out to this website for American Indian Writers of Children’s Literature. It has some famous names like Sherman Alexie and Louise Erdrich, but there are many, many more! While I’ve appreciated, every once in a while, the writing of a white author about another culture, even the good outsider writers can’t speak in the voices of those who grew up in that culture. What an outsider sees or fails to see is entirely different from the gaze of the insider. And when the culture being written about has been subjected to colonialism and related ills, all the more reason for its own writers to speak out and own their histories, their stories, their words.
I am not saying that people from one culture, dominant or not, should not write about any cultures than their own. Writing shouldn’t be a ghetto divided into watertight compartments. But white writers in particular and outsider writers in general should approach such writing with care, and recognize that however wonderful and important their works might be, they cannot do what the insider writer can do, cannot see what they can see.
I am increasingly conscious of my own responsibility in this as I write — increasingly — about cultures and geographies outside of India. And part of that responsibility is to bring to the attention of the world (or at least to whoever reads my blog) the works of the great insider writers from various cultures. I’m particularly interested in Native American writing. So watch this space!