What she said. Which is why, by the way, people who tell me that, as a white woman, it is exploitative for me to be writing about African-American or West Indian or Native American or Asian or Aboriginal or Latino characters will be summarily laughed at.
If I can write elves, I can write black folks. Hell, it's easier than writing elves; I don't know any elves that I can send a story to to tell me if I got it wrong. (Canadians are hard, eh?)
It's why I work very hard to allow my characters to be who they are--bisexual, asexual, gay, straight, transgendered, intersexed; black, white, brown, tan, ochre, or olive; Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Muslim, atheist, heathen, or agnostic.... Hmm. Stopping now, or I could be here for a while.
Because it matters to somebody. Dammit.
Pam Noles has more here in her blog (thank you, ide_cyan)
ETA stillnotbored comes in from another angle here: "Pretty good, for a girl".