Cultural Appropriation?

Hello everyone, I hope you’re doing well! :smiley:

While taking a break from my current project I found an old short story of mine that I’m picking up again!

Short summary: Contemporary (2010s-2020s), Setting [name_u]Germany[/name_u]
The main character is the daughter of a member of organised crime (drug trafficking, money laundering) which leads to many conflicts with her “normal” lifestyle and is part of the central problem of the story.

Problem: The organised crime is currently represented by the Albanian Mafia. I chose it back then because it is authentic in the sense that Albanian Clans are active in [name_u]Germany[/name_u] right now, and because I think Albanian culture is interesting and because it just fit nicely for some other reasons…
But…I am NOT Albanian nor do I have any relation to or family from Albania.

Past me thought I could solve that problem by making my character’s father someone that is of Albanian ethnicity but grew up in [name_u]Germany[/name_u] during his formative years and by my character being raised in a boarding school, apart from the members of the family that belong to the Clan.

What are your thoughts on this?
[name_m]Can[/name_m] I write my character and big part of a story/other characters about a culture that I do not belong to and have never experienced on my own?
Is it “enough” to explain any mistake I will make depicting characters/customs from that culture by my character’s background of boarding school, different social influence, etc or is it cultural appropriation and offensive?

Or should I fall back on a culture/ethnicity that I belong to but that is unlikely to have the level of organised crime I am describing in the story? After all it is still fiction, so… :sweat_smile:

Sorry it got so long!
Would love to hear your thoughts on this, thank you! :grin:

Sure! I think you can if you done enough research so that you understand the culture so when you are talking about them you won’t cause offense

I wouldn’t write about Albanian culture or the Albanian Mafia unless I had a great knowledge of those subjects. [name_m]Just[/name_m] my opinion. Kosoko [name_u]Jackson[/name_u]'s YA book A Place for Wolves was cancelled for perceived insensitivity towards Albanians.

If you do research about their culture and know enough about them, you can. However I strongly recommend doing a lot of research because I wouldn’t read a book where I see misinterpretation of a culture.

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Thank you to all of you for your thoughts on this matter!

I had never heard about A Place for Wolves but after researching it and reading reviews by people directly affected I am very sure now that I should definitly chose the culture I am part of and not use Albanian characters/culture. Especially since Clans and organised crime are such sensitive topics…
Thank you, I appreciate your input!

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