A few days ago, I weighed in on the ongoing drama of romance author Cassie Edwards being revealed as a plagiarist.
Now, as it continues to grow and fester, we have an e-mailed letter attributed to Edwards making the rounds. I am so appalled that I have to excerpt it here:
The sad thing is that I am writing these books now in a way to honor our Native Americans, past, present and in the future. And I am honoring my great grandmother who was a full blood Cheyenne. She would be so proud of me if she could read what I am writing about the Indians who have been so maligned for so long. And do you know? I feel picked on now as our Native American Indians have always been picked on throughout history. I am trying to spread the word about them and what do I get? Spiteful women who have found a way to bring attention to themselves, by getting in the media in this horrible way.
Excuse me? What? Being called out on plagiarizing both fiction and nonfiction texts for your purple prose is the same as the centuries-old oppression of Native Americans? Godwin’s Law much? As a romance reader and as the other kind of Indian, I’m offended. If this is indeed Edwards’ actual stance on the matter, I am utterly disgusted. Instead of addressing the nuts and bolts of the matter, she boils it down to “OMG! Those bitches are so meeeeeeeen and raceeeeest!”
Then, there’s the laughable matter of her novels “honoring” her purpotedly Cheyenne heritage. Please. If I wrote the same kind of books about my desi heritage, my ancestors would line up to slap me upside the head and then they’d line up and do it again. Her “savage” pseudo-Indian romances are hardly a banner for racial equality, hardly an educational tool… discounting the parts she purloined from educational texts. Even before the gals at SBTB ever snarked their first Edwards’ cover, she was a laughingstock. I’ve been cringing at those books for years because of their poorly characterized, fetishistic approach to interracial and minority romance.
I truly hate the idea that as a culture of women readers and women writers, we have to be “nice,” and “polite,” and “discreet.” That the problem here is not that Edwards did something wrong, but that the Smart Bitches and their friend Nikki did something wrong by bringing her actions to light. How dare we not all hold hands and sing “Kumbayah,” and cover for her because she’s a fellow woman and this is a genre for women? How dare those “spiteful” women” victimize her this way? No, Ms. Edwards, how dare you? How dare you write a hundred novels’ worth of stereotype-enforcing claptrap and claim it is honorable representation? How dare you steal from the work of others with absolutely no compunction and no regret? How dare you dupe your readers? How dare you color a genre that already must struggle on a daily basis for respect?
Honestly, I really hope that the letter being passed around is not actually from Cassie Edwards. That the appalling sentiments and the weak defense are things trumped up by a batchip fan of hers, claiming them as her words. Hey, it would certainly make sense if her readers followed her pattern — the only thing about this terrible affair that makes sense at all.