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Joyce Carol Oates: Yes, White Authors Face Discrimination

Liberal author defies tribal identity, calls out publishers for blocking white talent

Author James Patterson took media fire recently for suggesting white male authors face discrimination.

“Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes.” He continued by saying, “It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males” in film, theater, TV or publishing.

Major media outlets pounded Patterson for his comments. The author of the “Alex Cross” series quickly backpedaled on his claims.

“I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism. I absolutely do not believe that racism is practiced against white writers,” he wrote. “Please know that I strongly support a diversity of voices being heard—in literature, in Hollywood, everywhere.”

NBC News wouldn’t accept Patterson’s coerced apology, doubling down to suggest he held racist views for not co-authoring books with more people of color.

Now, another literary giant is saying exactly what Patterson alleged. And, so far, no apologies.

Joyce Carol Oates shared an alarming Tweet over the weekend. Her words came in response to a New York Times article exploring how authors are self-censoring due to Cancel Culture fears.

Oates, known for “A Garden of Earthly Delights” and “Black Water”, Tweeted out the story to her 222K followers. It’s what she added, though, that may come back to haunt her.

Editor’s Note: We’re repeating her comments below in case she deletes the Tweet.

(a friend who is a literary agent told me that he cannot even get editors to read first novels by young white male writers, no matter how good; they are just not interested. this is heartbreaking for writers who may, in fact, be brilliant, & critical of their own “privilege.”)

This shouldn’t come as a shock.

This brand of discrimination powered an expose shared by Bari Weiss earlier this year. That story detailed how Hollywood is aggressively promoting diversity to the point where white male artists fear for their creative livelihoods.

Howard Koch, who has been involved in the production of more than 60 movies, including such classics as “Chinatown” and “Marathon Man,” and is the former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, said: “I’m all for LGBT and Native Americans, blacks, females, whatever minorities that have not been served correctly in the making of content, whether it’s television or movies or whatever, but I think it’s gone too far. I know a lot of very talented people that can’t get work because they’re not black, Native American, female or LGBTQ.”

We’ve seen similar accusations from the comedy ranks.

Terror on the Prairie” star Tyler Fischer says he’s been repeatedly discriminated against for being a straight white male. The impressionist has gone so far as to sue his former representation which he claims told him directly they can’t find work for him due to his immutable characteristics.

His former agency denies the allegations.

The surprising part is that Oates shared the news at all. She’s a reliably progressive voice who aligns with the Democrats on most issues and loathes former President Donald Trump.

Joyce Carol Oates reflects on Trump, society and the sadness of being alone | SVT/TV 2/Skavlan

Conservatives have been calling out this kind of discrimination for some time now, not liberals.

Will Oates keep that Tweet up? Might she apologize for the sentiment behind it, much like Patterson previously did?

Either way, neither will change the reality that may be facing select authors today.

One Comment

  1. All the way through the middle of the last century, if you were a great boxer, and had trained hard and fought hard and beaten all your challenges, but you were black or Latino, or unwilling to be managed by the mob, you didn’t get a shot at the title, or any kind of significant pay day for that matter. The sport is replete with stories of fighters like Sam Langford, Tiger Flowers, Harry Willis who were passed over time and again for title fights because of their race. American professional sports are the poster child of this dual-world of talent and opportunity. The same stories are well documented within the music world, particularly jazz. White guys are no longer sitting in the catbird seat; they’re seated in the proverbial back of the bus. Two wrongs certainly don’t make a right, but this is where it’s at. Particularly white young writers have to ask themselves if they’re incorrigibly wedded to writing fiction. Because the landscape is now so aligned against them, they have to ask themselves how important it is for the people out there to read the stories they have to tell. Certainly they must consider the fact that 75% of readers who buy books (new books) are female. And that same number and gender holds for the folks who represent the writers and edit the books being published. I suspect some day, maybe even sooner rather than later, it will change, and readers and story lovers will want to know what men, even white men, had to say about life on planet earth during this sixth extinction. But right now, only the comedians are telling the story from that point of view.

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