Bethany C. Morrow on the Self-Delusion of Privilege
In Conversation with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review Podcast
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On the social experience of race:
I’m writing from a demographic that is not the power majority, and therefore all of our socialization hasn’t been bent around making you literate in my cultural lived experience. So I know for a fact that people are going to completely misunderstand WGS, and that’s kind of on them. WGS is something that Farrah calls Cherish.
It means White Girl Spoiled, and it’s a very sociological observation. It’s said in a way that if you’re talking to someone who [is WGS], the person hearing it can think it’s a term of endearment. Like, it’s hilarious that you talk like a spoiled white girl but you’re a black girl. But the thing is that being a spoiled white girl isn’t about how you act, it’s how the world treats you. Race isn’t about a personal heritage, it’s about a social experience. If you’re a black girl, you aren’t a spoiled white girl no matter how spoiled you are. [Cherish’s white adopted parents] are progressive and socially aware, and they’ve intentionally set certain things in her life to edify and affirm her blackness.
But at the same time they have inbred her with that same coddled to the point of incompetence, privileged to the point of almost uselessness, of being completely out of touch and able to live your entire life in a deluded state. It’s a pretty devastating thing that Farrah is saying, but every time we hear it, it’s playfully said, so it might take a minute to realize it’s clearly not a good thing. We always see privilege as this desirable, positive thing, and Farrah knows that’s not always the case.
On her protagonist, Farrah:
I’ve never been shy about saying that Farrah is psychopathic. She never gets tired. She never gets tired of strategizing. For most of us, there’s going to be this cognitive balance that we carry, and you get to the point where it’s like I don’t have the energy for this right now, I just need to be a normal person. I’m gonna have to trust people because I don’t have the bandwidth not to. She never gets there because this is really who she is. At the beginning of the book we see her experience something she’s not used to, which isn’t an exhaustion cognitively, but it’s a literal sort of physiological response to the stress she’s under. Her stress is simply losing control, of no longer being in control of her daily surroundings in life.
Bethany C. Morrow is a national bestselling author writing for adult and young adult audiences. She is the author of the novels Mem, A Song Below Water, A Chorus Rises, and So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix. She is included on USA TODAY’s list of 100 Black novelists and fiction writers you should read. Her latest novel is called Cherish Farrah.