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Why James Patterson's apology following 'racism' claim was an eyebrow raiser

Why James Patterson's apology following 'racism' claim was an eyebrow raiser

James Patterson's claim of white male writers experiencing racism was laughable, but his apology after receiving backlash was an eyebrow raiser too.

On Sunday, James Patterson, whose enormous output of thrillers has netted him an estimated $750 million in personal wealth, caused a chorus of heads to turn and tilt. The U.K.’s Sunday Times published an interview in which he alleged that he and his fellow “white males” were subject to “racism” that prevented them from getting writing jobs. “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.

Two days later — an eon in social media backlash terms — Patterson apologized and walked his statement all the way back. But it’s still worth asking what the most successful author in the world was thinking when he shared his frankly laughable allegation that white male scribes have it harder than most. 

By any assessment, using any metric, and with any set of objective eyes, white men continue to do very, very well in film, theater, TV and publishing.

As someone who’s been in and adjacent to creative industries for the better part of my career, I can say firsthand that if white men really did have any problem getting jobs as writers, they can blame other white men, who are disproportionately represented in the ranks of gatekeepers in those industries, controlling both pipelines and pursestrings. But the fact is, they don’t. By any assessment, using any metric, and with any set of objective eyes, white men continue to do very, very well in film, theater, TV and publishing. So much so that people across social and traditional media wondered if Patterson was simply living in a delusional bubble or, as Salon mused, if the statement was a PR stunt to drum up attention for his recent eponymous memoir: “Is this…a publicity stunt by an expert at the con? Maybe.” Salon noted that Patterson began his career in advertising and knew exactly how to grab headlines when attention was needed. 

But let’s give the man the benefit of the doubt and say that instead of being cynically manipulative, he’s just bizarrely unaware of the state of diversity in the creative industries that have made him a 3/4ths billionaire. Fortunately, there are now a plethora of institutions ready to provide Patterson with the statistics he lacks. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/james-pattersons-apology-racism-claim-was-eyebrow-raiser-rcna33931


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