What's more likely to get your poem published: a "white" name or a Chinese one?
They even created a “White Pen Name Generator.” Visit the site and you will be given your very own parody name that looks and sounds "white" (mine is “Donald Trump Reed.”)
“Best American Poetry 2015” guest editor Sherman Alexie, who is Native American, explained that he was more amenable to the poem because he thought the author was Chinese. But even after he realized the true identity of the author, he ultimately decided to keep the poem in the collection, as he found it to be a good one.
Angelenos may remember the story of Danny Santiago, the talented young Chicano writer who penned the prizewinning 1983 novel “Famous All Over Town,” a coming-of-age novel about a streetwise Chicano boy growing up in the East Los Angeles barrio. But Danny Santiago wasn’t actually a young Chicano, or even a Santiago; it was later revealed that he was actually Daniel James, a 73-year-old white man who had been educated in the Ivy League and blacklisted in Hollywood.
But there is an important difference between Hudson and his predecessors. “Famous All Over Town,” despite its deception, was still, in the late 1980s, treasured in Los Angeles high schools as an inspiring book for young people of color searching for characters with whom they could relate. And Dolezal, before the scandal, was known in her community of Spokane for her scholarship and work with the NAACP.
Instead, his critics say, he merely took from the “crumbs” that minority writers have to survive on in the literary world. (He even appears to have taken the name “Yi-Fen Chou” from a woman who attended high school with him in Fort Wayne, Ind., her family tells the New York Times).
“We’re really happy that #ActualAsianPoet has also taken off along with the #WhitePenName tag,” she said, in reference to the hashtag that started as a joke in her office. Now, social media users are promoting the work of Asian American poets.
For some, though, this may not be cause for celebration, but alarm. Ken Chen, executive director of Asian American Writers’ Workshop, wrote that Hudson’s actions were those of a “hysterical white man” who was envious of writers of color who were finally gaining recognition.
Alexie says Hudson used the pseudonym "as a means of subverting what he believes to be a politically correct poetry business."
If this is the case, Hudson is not alone in his sentiments. Like those who argue against affirmative action, some seem to believe that the poetry business, as "The American Conservative" suggests, is trying to "have it both ways" by sacrificing merit for empty diversity.