Posted on February 9, 2011

Want To Win Literary Competitions? Pretend You’re Black

Robert Henderson, England Calling (blog), February 3, 2011

I am white. I wrote this story as an experiment to test the effect of political correctness on literary competitions. I did this by creating a story which both had a black theme and was written in a way which implied the author was black. However, the judges of the competition had no certain knowledge of my race or background.

Black was entered in the 1996 London writers completion. It came fourth. There were several thousand entries which meant that winning was something of a lottery and, consequently, the fact that my entry made it to the last four at my first attempt masquerading as black strongly suggested that the nature of the story had influenced its choice as one of the best out of thousands.

When I attended the award ceremony there was hilarious consternation when I went up to accept the prize because the judges had all assumed that the author of black was black. There was also a great rumble of amazement amongst the audience–I noted a solitary black face in the entire gathering.

Although I wrote the story for the purpose described and the dismayed look on the judges faces as I responded to my name being called was worth a tidy fortune, the story had other purposes. I wanted to explore the mentality of blacks towards their lives in England and just to complicate matters I distinguished the character further by making him highly intelligent. This allowed me to have him set apart from the mainstream black mentality which in turn enabled me to examine racial issues from an angle few blacks would have approached and to slaughter the holy cows of black victimhood. Now for the story.


[Robert Henderson’s submitted story can be read here.]