Author Topic: Racism In Your Literature?  (Read 2905 times)  

Offline Thame

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Racism In Your Literature?
« on: August 14, 2017, 11:46:42 AM »
Since its such a hot topic in the news, and we are products of the times we live in, have you had racism in your literary works? Used it as part of a character, a society, a world? Thought about using it? What is your reaction when you see it in other's works? Doesn't have to be real. It can be in everything from romance to science fiction, take Captain Kirk's racism towards Klingons in Star Trek VI for example.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2017, 11:48:27 AM »
I write time travel; there's racism of some sort in just about every historical location/era I've written about.

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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2017, 11:52:37 AM »
I don't think it's even remotely uncommon.  Heck, there were plenty of wizards in Harry Potter who weren't particularly fond of Muggles. 

As for my reaction, it's like everything else in a book: is the story good, the characters engrossing / consistent / realistic etc? 


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Online TobiasRoote

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2017, 11:55:38 AM »
Can you write books without some form of racism involved? Whether we like it, or not human nature is what it is and that's what we write about. If we wrote politically correct works for fear of offending, then perhaps we're not writers at all. As it is I don't even think about what I'm writing in that context. Should I? I don't think so.  I probably wouldn't want to read such a book.


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Offline Marian

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2017, 11:56:04 AM »
I write contemporary fiction that takes place in the US. Racism has shown up in almost every book I've written. It's there and it's ugly. I write about it when it happens organically in the narrative.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2017, 12:10:52 PM »
In my work, which is sci-fi, there is an alien race that is discriminated against largely in the distant Outer Colonies. People out there don't have daily contact with them like people on Earth do, so they're pretty ok with calling them all sorts of abusive terms and perpetuating stereotypes. Some of those guys still don't believe in aliens as well, so it's funny when they finally show up.

On a separate note, there is even heavier discrimination that isn't based on race, but on affiliation. For example, lots of Outer Colonists hate the Earth Government and the military, and one of my main characters works for both. He actually has to wade through a crowd that isn't shy about expressing their hate at one point. Similar discrimination actually occurs from the other side, too, as Earth-borns and other colonists view Outer Colonists as backward, violent, essentially space-age rednecks.

I'm occasionally offended by racism in literature, but even more so in science fiction, because you'd think humanity would've evolved past that by then. (I realize that is a rather hypocritical statement, given my above responses...)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 12:22:47 PM by Kal241 »

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Offline Brian Olsen

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2017, 12:24:22 PM »
I try to strike a balance. I'm a white guy who writes a lot of POC lead and supporting characters. I don't really want to write a story that's about racism, per se, because I don't really feel like that's my story to tell, or one I know well enough to tell. But my first series is set in present-day New York, so it would be weird and dishonest to have POC POV characters and never have racism come up at all. So it's there when it's needed for the story or for character development, but it's never a main or even a sub-plot.

My next series will also be set in present-day Earth but will feature prejudice against magical creatures as a main theme. As I outline I'm trying to be careful not to make it an obvious one-for-one metaphor with existing real-world peoples - I feel like that's an easy trap to fall into, and it could easily be both heavy-handed and offensive.

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Offline Decon

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2017, 12:36:49 PM »
Kligons were a war race from anther planet intent on destroying humanuity. Not sure that fighting back is racism.

I'm walking a tightrope now in my work in progress. My white detective goes undercover on as a highway patrol officer at a station in LA to gather evidence for the DOJ to route out suspected institutional racism after a white cop on black shooting, followed by race riots, cops shot on duty, lots of racist remarks from both sides etc etc. Not sure if I'll ever publish it, but I intend to complete it. Really it takes  racism down to it's base form, or should I say prejudice, in how his new white colleagues react to him as an ex-detective.

I have  WIP 1st in a prepper series that is pre and post apolyptic where races get together individually in enclaves and in opposition to one another and create their own ethnic cleansing to form new states and use captives as slaves. But then there is a similar thing happening with Mormons and Christians with mass exoduses to exchange populations so that 2 neighbouring states each become one demominational by force. Obviously, the consitution goes out of the window with a complete breakdown in society. A sort of Game of Thrones on steroids.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 12:48:22 PM by Decon »


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Offline Carleton Chinner

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2017, 12:40:42 PM »
I think, as authors, it's hard not explore humanities' basic mistrust of the other.

I grew up in the old apartheid South Africa and experienced first hand the hundred crazy justifications that people have for their own beliefs. Ultimately, we will tell ourselves anything to justify our own self-interest.

I've tried to explore how racism intertwines with ambitions in my science fiction book about the descendants of humanity that live on the moon. How the people of Earth exploit  this underclass and how the Moon Folk seek a path to their own self-determination.

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2017, 12:41:53 PM »
The MC in my current series is blonde and blue eyed. She's also a mutant. Mutants are discriminated against, taking the place of skin color or country of origin. At least her mutations aren't visible so she's able to hide them and "pass" in polite society.

One reviewer didn't understand the irony and ranted on about blonde MCs and why didn't I make her a POC like her non-mutant boyfriend and BFF. People will complain about anything.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 12:45:06 PM by brkingsolver »

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2017, 12:51:39 PM »
People will complain about anything.

Yes, yes they will.

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Offline D. Zollicoffer

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2017, 01:18:51 PM »
It's fine as long as the author isn't endorsing it. I've read most of Stephen King's books and he manages to slip the n-word into 70% of them. As a POC this bothered me at first, but then I realized that he must really hate racists because 90% of the people who say that word in his books ends up dead or gets called out immediately. Buddy Repperton (Christine) may be a bully, but he will not tolerate your lame racist jokes
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 02:34:47 PM by D. Zollicoffer »

Offline Jena H

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2017, 01:20:56 PM »
I too write time travel, and in my current WIP, my teenaged MCs end up at a time when racism is very much a thing.  It's dealt with overtly in some scenes, and definitely discussed by the characters.  I've tried to walk the line between historical accuracy and self-righteous preachiness.

(Same overall issue in another book of the same series.  In my other series, I haven't addressed racism directly.)
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Offline Thame

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2017, 01:26:39 PM »
Kligons were a war race from anther planet intent on destroying humanuity. Not sure that fighting back is racism.

 Captain Kirk: "I've never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I can never forgive them for the death of my boy."

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2017, 02:38:32 PM »
I cover it in most of my books but under the guise of man vs machine. I like reading about it as well, especially in Historical Fiction, but I don't see any advantage or disadvantage to writing about it. You can go to the comments section of anything on the internet to get a healthy dose.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 03:10:33 PM by Greg Dragon »

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2017, 02:47:21 PM »
Captain Kirk: "I've never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I can never forgive them for the death of my boy."

To be fair, Klingons had worse to say about Kirk, as well as humanity and any race that wasn't their own. Kirk was wrong in his beliefs, but that doesn't make the Klingons any less racist themselves. The fact that they allied with rogue Starfleet officers to disrupt a peace process shows just how hateful both species are.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2017, 03:14:52 PM »
My friend and I are co-authoring a women's fiction/contemporary romance story set on Fidalgo Island.  We have journals that our MCs come across, while exploring the mansion they inherit.  One of them talks about the problems between Native-American groups and the European-Americans in the 1920s.  Economic problems on the island led to racial tensions.  The MCs great-great-grandmother and her two closest friends did a lot of fundraising for the hospital and other charities for Anacortes and the island...and one of the women is Native-American in the story.  Their mothers were all very close and they grew up together and remained close as adults. 

ETA:  Love Star Trek!  As Spock pointed out, only Nixon could go to China. :)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 04:00:50 PM by Lorri Moulton »

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Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2017, 04:54:07 PM »

I'm occasionally offended by racism in literature, but even more so in science fiction, because you'd think humanity would've evolved past that by then. (I realize that is a rather hypocritical statement, given my above responses...)

Given that human society has been evolving since our ancestors discovered fire, call it ten thousand years just for a mark on the wall, there's no particular reason to think that we will progress past racism--a subset of tribalism--within an equal time. In fact, there have been many societies where race was mostly a non-issue, but something always occupied that social niche of determining how to divide up--often nationality or culture or religion (which overlapped too).

Most likely, the ways we divide ourselves into tribes will morph, but they will be there. Today, race is a central social issue. At other times and other places, it hasn't been, and maybe it won't be--at certain times, in certain places.

One way to think about this is to realize that nothing ever achieves the ideal. It would be ideal if people didn't divide ourselves arbitrarily by their uncontrollable differences, but even if there were no uncontrollable differences, people would deviate from the ideal. If not racism, then some other -ism, maybe even chosen, self-created -isms like communism or capitalism or mercantilism or intellectualism (just random examples).

It reminds me of the famous study where they gave people different colored shirts and introduced tribalist rhetoric. Pretty soon most of the people were expressing solidarity with their own t-shirt color and criticizing the others, based on nothing except what color shirt they were given.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 04:57:43 PM by David VanDyke »


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2017, 04:58:16 PM »
Define racism.
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Offline Al Stevens

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2017, 05:39:48 PM »
Define racism.
To me racism is discrimination of any sort that is grounded in racial prejudice.

This is hard to explain. I grew up in the south in the 1950s and most of the white adults I knew were prejudiced and most of the blacks were inmates in the local prison. The prejudiced whites did not as a general rule, discriminate against or otherwise disadvantage black people simply based on race. There were exceptions, of course, but most of the prejudiced white people I knew were good people. Depending, I suppose, on one's perspective.

It's difficult to write such a character without giving offense. It's easy to write a bad guy who hates folks of other races. But the other side is tough. Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" is an example of an effective treatment of the issue.

I'm also reminded of "The Foxes of Harrow," a novel in which the MC was a prejudiced plantation owner who dropped the N-word whenever it suited him, without it lessening his role as a positive MC. It wasn't until years after I'd read it that I learned the author, Frank Yerby, was an African-American. So I re-read it. There's a lot to be learned about racism in literature from that book.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2017, 06:53:00 PM »
Given that human society has been evolving since our ancestors discovered fire, call it ten thousand years just for a mark on the wall, there's no particular reason to think that we will progress past racism--a subset of tribalism--within an equal time. In fact, there have been many societies where race was mostly a non-issue, but something always occupied that social niche of determining how to divide up--often nationality or culture or religion (which overlapped too).

Most likely, the ways we divide ourselves into tribes will morph, but they will be there. Today, race is a central social issue. At other times and other places, it hasn't been, and maybe it won't be--at certain times, in certain places.

One way to think about this is to realize that nothing ever achieves the ideal. It would be ideal if people didn't divide ourselves arbitrarily by their uncontrollable differences, but even if there were no uncontrollable differences, people would deviate from the ideal. If not racism, then some other -ism, maybe even chosen, self-created -isms like communism or capitalism or mercantilism or intellectualism (just random examples).

It reminds me of the famous study where they gave people different colored shirts and introduced tribalist rhetoric. Pretty soon most of the people were expressing solidarity with their own t-shirt color and criticizing the others, based on nothing except what color shirt they were given.

Pretty much all of this ... not sure why SciFi is supposed to be a utopia, but humans have been drawing the line since the beginning. People kill each other over streets, countries, colors, families, the list is endless, yet somehow race is off the table?

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2017, 07:02:36 PM »
It reminds me of the famous study where they gave people different colored shirts and introduced tribalist rhetoric. Pretty soon most of the people were expressing solidarity with their own t-shirt color and criticizing the others, based on nothing except what color shirt they were given.


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Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2017, 07:03:21 PM »
Define racism.

Please, don't. Seriously. Not meaning to be unnecessarily confrontational, but that's a rabbit hole of casuistry we don't need on KBoards and will likely end up getting the thread shut down--and it has little or nothing to do with the question.


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Offline WHDean

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2017, 07:40:15 PM »
Since its such a hot topic in the news, and we are products of the times we live in, have you had racism in your literary works? Used it as part of a character, a society, a world? Thought about using it? What is your reaction when you see it in other's works? Doesn't have to be real. It can be in everything from romance to science fiction, take Captain Kirk's racism towards Klingons in Star Trek VI for example.

Technically it would be speciesism because Klingons aren't human. Still, Kirk didn't claim humans were a superior species or that Klingons were an inferior one, or that they should be exterminated, etc. He said he was holding a grudge against all Klingons because some of them had killed his son. Maybe it's "unfair" or irrational but it's not speciesism, and it is understandable in context.

Please, don't. Seriously. Not meaning to be unnecessarily confrontational, but that's a rabbit hole of casuistry we don't need on KBoards and will likely end up getting the thread shut down--and it has little or nothing to do with the question.

Not to nitpick, but you defined racism as a subset of tribalism above.

 

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2017, 07:52:11 PM »

Not to nitpick, but you defined racism as a subset of tribalism above.


That's an observation more than a definition. For example, if I say iron is a subset of ferrous metals, that's mostly an observation.

What I'm concerned about is igniting the seemingly inevitable argument over what racism is, especially here in America, and how it is applied in our sociopolitical life. I've seen screaming, mouth-foaming arguments elsewhere because people stake out positions and feel their identity threatened by someone else's definition--because that definition is what they've invested themselves in.

I don't usually worry too much about something that may or may not happen, but in this case, I'm raising the red flag before the thing begins, in hopes of heading it off.

See: the "abuse" discussion. Pretty much the same thing, revolving mostly around how people defined abuse, and were even triggered by the word. Lesson learned.


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2017, 08:00:58 PM »
Please, don't. Seriously. Not meaning to be unnecessarily confrontational, but that's a rabbit hole of casuistry we don't need on KBoards and will likely end up getting the thread shut down--and it has little or nothing to do with the question.

It seems reasonable that, before we answer the question "Racism in your literature?," we define it.
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Offline WHDean

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #26 on: August 14, 2017, 08:08:49 PM »
That's an observation more than a definition. For example, if I say iron is a subset of ferrous metals, that's mostly an observation.

What I'm concerned about is igniting the seemingly inevitable argument over what racism is, especially here in America, and how it is applied in our sociopolitical life. I've seen screaming, mouth-foaming arguments elsewhere because people stake out positions and feel their identity threatened by someone else's definition--because that definition is what they've invested themselves in.

I don't usually worry too much about something that may or may not happen, but in this case, I'm raising the red flag before the thing begins, in hopes of heading it off.

See: the "abuse" discussion. Pretty much the same thing, revolving mostly around how people defined abuse, and were even triggered by the word. Lesson learned.


Understood. But I'm not sure there's much of discussion without some specifics. I'll give it a go anyway.

On to other things: I'm trying think of a case where speciesism/racism was done well in SF and I'm coming up empty. Star Trek had a few, but they were the weakest episodes, it seems to me. District 9 was brilliant, but then I interpreted the film in a way many others did not.

   

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2017, 08:24:16 PM »
There are so many ways humans fracture themselves into groups. I experienced this in school where you have the rich kids, poor kids, geeks, burnouts, band members, etc.

I don't need to pick skin color as a means for group hate, all I have to do is find the power differentials in the worlds I create and create factions based on that. So the forest people would distrust city dwellers. Those with magic are pitted against those without. Nobility vs commoners. Even different magic types would have hierarchies and power struggles.

If a group of darker skinned individuals is hated on in my worlds, I want it to be because of things other than just their skin pigmentation since that type of hate is beyond stupid right now in society.

My reaction to seeing it - if you can do it like Hidden Figures (awesome movie, haven't read the book), then I say go for it. We can't just ignore it if we are writing in the time period where it exists. And seeing what life is like as a PoC is invaluable I think because people just don't realize all the crud they go through in every day life. I don't want it to be preachy, but it should be there.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #28 on: August 14, 2017, 08:43:54 PM »
Understood. But I'm not sure there's much of discussion without some specifics. I'll give it a go anyway.

On to other things: I'm trying think of a case where speciesism/racism was done well in SF and I'm coming up empty. Star Trek had a few, but they were the weakest episodes, it seems to me. District 9 was brilliant, but then I interpreted the film in a way many others did not.

 

Gattaca had genetic-based variations of racism and caste warfare. Battlestar: Galactica (new version) had heavy racism elements between humans and humanoid Cylons. District 9 did it well. Star Trek tackled it often. The show Dr. Who actually has ongoing racism/xenophobia in the Daleks versus the Doctor, as well as every other alien or human race to some extent (the Doctor himself is VERY good at stereotyping others and going too far). Total Recall had racism against mutants, as does the X-Men, etc. There are other examples, of course.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 08:46:01 PM by Kal241 »

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2017, 09:23:21 PM »
It seems reasonable that, before we answer the question "Racism in your literature?," we define it.

On the face of things, it does seem reasonable to begin a discussion with definitions, but I think David VanDyke is right that this term is too complex and contentious wrestle down to consensus on this forum. I'd suggest people simply respond to the OP's question according to their own understanding of what racism is.

Offline JosiahUpton

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2017, 10:00:27 PM »
In my series, there is a breed of zombie (technically, it's a medical phenomenon brought on by puberty in infected individuals) that is sentient, called Hybrid Reanimates. Since Hybrids are not mindless monsters, society wasn't willing to exterminate them... but their hatred for them has parallels to racism. They even call them Uggers, as Hybrids have lower intelligence from prior to their transformation, and most speech is simple words or grunts (e.g. "Ugg").
 

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2017, 12:16:55 AM »
Since its such a hot topic in the news, and we are products of the times we live in, have you had racism in your literary works? Used it as part of a character, a society, a world? Thought about using it? What is your reaction when you see it in other's works? Doesn't have to be real. It can be in everything from romance to science fiction, take Captain Kirk's racism towards Klingons in Star Trek VI for example.
I never thought of that as racism, perhaps because the Klingons are alien, perhaps because he hated them because one of them killed his son in cold blood. I don't see anything to compare with the racism of the slave trade or the holocaust, segregation in South Africa or whites only public places in the south.

I am a great fan of Dorothy L. Sayers and one of her books contains a scene of a housekeeper, describing a visit from a black cousin. She said: 'he sat himself down in my nice, clean living room', or words to that effect. That is racist and my first thought when I read it was that I was surprised someone hadn't banned it. But that is how people thought in those days, especially upper class English people.

Gone with the Wind has reviews calling the author racist, which is ridiculous. How could she write about the civil war in America and get into the minds of those characters, without a racist overtone? Doesn't mean the author was racist. On the other hand, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, a factual list of the protestants burned alive on the order of Catholic Mary Tudor, has a review which calls it anti-Catholic! Well, since they were the ones doing the burning, of course it was anti-catholic.

I think people are too quick to jump on everything as racist nowadays. I even had foreign pupils when I was teaching, who would fail their driving test for a legitimate cause, and declare it was racist. It can be a good excuse to avoid responsibility.


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2017, 12:35:36 AM »
In fact, there have been many societies where race was mostly a non-issue, but something always occupied that social niche of determining how to divide up--often nationality or culture or religion (which overlapped too).

India would be a perfect example of this with their caste system. They are all Indians, but some are looked upon as better than others.

Of course, one could say the same things about rich vs. poor.
Those that get to fly first class vs. those that get to sit at the back of the plane.
Liberals vs. conservatives.
Christians vs. Muslims, especially in Muslim countries.

We don't need race to find reasons to hate each other and the chances of us becoming sweet, gentle, passive human beings anytime in the near future is a dream by any stretch of the imagination.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2017, 12:41:30 AM »
Struggling against prejudice is an underlying theme in my Dimension Jumpers stories (only one published so far, but I have another two completed in first draft).  There was actually an ethnic cleansing of magic users after the government drummed up fear of them in order to attempt to quiet political turmoil over a smaller country being merged with a bigger one.  The government tried to unite the country behind hatred and fear of magic users.  So, though that was fifty years before the events in the story, there is still a lot of conscious and unconscious prejudice against magic users.  The sequel also has a bit of sexism and 'traditional' racist attitudes too, because the heroine is a woman from an immigrant background (and a magic user) who is taking on a high-profile role & there are people in authority who are very offended and put out by this. 

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2017, 06:14:56 AM »
I have a racist character in my novella. The book isn't about that, though. It's just who he is, and it's not his only issue. He's out and proud. That doesn't make me a racist, is that's the OP's concern about having racism in books. In some cases, you simply can't write about something without having characters who behave certain ways.

As to defining racism, I think some people just want to stir the pot. There's the whole Internet if someone wants to see how it's defined officially, even find specific examples, but I think people know it when they see it. As an older white woman, I grew up with segregation. I saw how it affected people, and even as a child I didn't understand it.

I do think we can grow past the tribalism that at one time had benefits but is now only a hindrance. This is a very small planet now, and it's in trouble. The sooner we can learn to live together and work together, the sooner we can survive. We're all one tribe now.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2017, 10:55:15 AM »
Gattaca had genetic-based variations of racism and caste warfare. Battlestar: Galactica (new version) had heavy racism elements between humans and humanoid Cylons. District 9 did it well. Star Trek tackled it often. The show Dr. Who actually has ongoing racism/xenophobia in the Daleks versus the Doctor, as well as every other alien or human race to some extent (the Doctor himself is VERY good at stereotyping others and going too far). Total Recall had racism against mutants, as does the X-Men, etc. There are other examples, of course.

With the exception of Doctor Who, I've seen or read some or all of those examples. I can admit analogues of racism in some of those stories, but the specifics are essential to the stories, so we lose more than we gain from calling them racism. The treatment of the mutants in Total Recall, for example, is something like racism because they are human beings considered subhuman on account of their mutations. Gattaca also had humans on both sides. But it's hard to see analogues with District 9 or BSG or even Star Trek because none involved humans hating humans, and the aliens hating aliens tended to be different species. As for X-Men, from what little I've seen, it struck me as ridiculous that non-mutants were portrayed unsympathetically for fearing and hating mutants when mutants all had super-powers. Duh. But then superheroes don't do much for me.



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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2017, 12:32:53 PM »
Classic Star Trek and very good twist on racism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGRZogWq8Vk

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Offline Dennis Chekalov

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2017, 12:35:45 PM »
I think people know it when they see it.

No. That's the problem. Some racists just don't understand that they are racists.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2017, 01:13:31 PM »
Bigotry and discrimination are powerful motivators for characters, both those doing the discriminating and those on the receiving side. Since I write scifi I have the benefit of not having to touch contemporary issues like what's in the news today but it's not something I shy away from but nor do I use it gratuitously.


I think, getting back to the OP, that it could be tricky given the current climate depending on genre and audience. There are a lot of raw feelings right now but in literature authors tend to be given a bit more leeway on these sorts of things. Having a character who is a racist doesn't equate to the author being a racist in most readers' minds.



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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #39 on: August 15, 2017, 02:34:28 PM »
As to defining racism, I think some people just want to stir the pot.

To set the record straight, that's not at all why I suggested that we define it.

Any substantive dialogue about an issue requires that the participants agree on what constitutes that issue. If everyone is in agreement about the particulars, it doesn't even matter whether the definition agreed upon is sound.

What matters is that everyone is working from the same point. That's the only reason I brought it up.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #40 on: August 15, 2017, 08:28:43 PM »
Classic Star Trek and very good twist on racism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGRZogWq8Vk

Don't get me wrong, I love classic Trek. But doesn't it come off a little hamfisted now?

To set the record straight, that's not at all why I suggested that we define it.

Any substantive dialogue about an issue requires that the participants agree on what constitutes that issue. If everyone is in agreement about the particulars, it doesn't even matter whether the definition agreed upon is sound.

What matters is that everyone is working from the same point. That's the only reason I brought it up.

I see David's point. It's another in a long list of things adults can't talk about anymore. But I agree with you. It's hard to talk about the depiction of something in literature without specifying what we're talking about. All this talk probably killed the thread too.


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #41 on: August 15, 2017, 08:41:55 PM »
I'm an African American from Alabama. My characters are from the south as well. They do address microagressions and prejudices.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #42 on: August 15, 2017, 08:44:15 PM »
I don't write about it because it's never been necessary to tell my stories. If I wrote historical literature I wouldn't shy away from it. I figure if I start worrying about offending people there's eventually going to be a huge list of things I can't write and I'll be spending all my time censoring myself. PC doesn't concern me because these days different things offend different people. You offend one person with something another doesn't mind, so I just write.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #43 on: August 16, 2017, 12:06:58 AM »
My scifi novels are pretty much about racism. The underground race grade human beings on how 'human' they are. People who have adapted to living underground physically by having larger eyes, paler skin etc are 'low graders' and are looked upon as less human. My MC is one of the high graders who learns to question these prejudices.

It's a pretty unsubtle allegory!

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #44 on: August 16, 2017, 01:22:29 AM »
Don't get me wrong, I love classic Trek. But doesn't it come off a little hamfisted now?


Agree, but it's still fun to watch. And I still fancy Mr Spock :)


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #45 on: August 16, 2017, 01:29:31 AM »
Agree, but it's still fun to watch. And I still fancy Mr Spock :)
Oh yes, Mr. Spock was my favorite character. And I loved that episode because I didn't notice the 'issue' either and it made me realize how any non-Earth civilization would look at our issue in the same way - What are you talking about, You look all the same to me? But just look at that person, they have darker skin color. So? - LOL I loved that!

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #46 on: August 16, 2017, 03:34:10 AM »
Given that human society has been evolving since our ancestors discovered fire, call it ten thousand years just for a mark on the wall, there's no particular reason to think that we will progress past racism--a subset of tribalism--within an equal time. In fact, there have been many societies where race was mostly a non-issue, but something always occupied that social niche of determining how to divide up--often nationality or culture or religion (which overlapped too).

Most likely, the ways we divide ourselves into tribes will morph, but they will be there. Today, race is a central social issue. At other times and other places, it hasn't been, and maybe it won't be--at certain times, in certain places.

One way to think about this is to realize that nothing ever achieves the ideal. It would be ideal if people didn't divide ourselves arbitrarily by their uncontrollable differences, but even if there were no uncontrollable differences, people would deviate from the ideal. If not racism, then some other -ism, maybe even chosen, self-created -isms like communism or capitalism or mercantilism or intellectualism (just random examples).

It reminds me of the famous study where they gave people different colored shirts and introduced tribalist rhetoric. Pretty soon most of the people were expressing solidarity with their own t-shirt color and criticizing the others, based on nothing except what color shirt they were given.

I would argue some of what you wrong is incorrect. As a trained anthropologist I can't find a time where race wasn't a dominant factor in the human timeline. There certainly hasn't been a timeline within the European and Asian civilizations where race wasn't always a huge factor. Are you referring to times where people were so insulated that they had no contact with others? Because those tended to be the most-racist of people.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #47 on: August 16, 2017, 04:00:48 AM »
Someone said to define racism. I've not thought of it before, but isn't racism born of fear, taking tribalism down to it's base survival intincts, which manifests as prejudice.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2017, 04:02:38 AM by Decon »


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #48 on: August 16, 2017, 04:14:27 AM »
Someone said to define racism. I've not thought of it before, but isn't racism born of fear, taking tribalism down to it's base survival intincts, which manifests as prejudice.

Oh, I like that. I've often heard that everything, once zeroed in on all the way down to its root, is either born of fear or love. And separating ourselves from others is rarely done for love.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2017, 06:08:29 AM »
Someone said to define racism. I've not thought of it before, but isn't racism born of fear, taking tribalism down to it's base survival intincts, which manifests as prejudice.

In a bare-bones evolutionary view that's a good place to start.

Long, long ago being wary of people you didn't know was a survival skill. I'm talking pre-history.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #50 on: August 16, 2017, 08:40:22 AM »
Oh yes, Mr. Spock was my favorite character. And I loved that episode because I didn't notice the 'issue' either and it made me realize how any non-Earth civilization would look at our issue in the same way - What are you talking about, You look all the same to me? But just look at that person, they have darker skin color. So? - LOL I loved that!

Exactly. :)

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #51 on: August 16, 2017, 09:04:17 AM »
I would argue some of what you wrong is incorrect. As a trained anthropologist I can't find a time where race wasn't a dominant factor in the human timeline. There certainly hasn't been a timeline within the European and Asian civilizations where race wasn't always a huge factor. Are you referring to times where people were so insulated that they had no contact with others? Because those tended to be the most-racist of people.

Here's what happens when we eschew definitions. David seems to be talking about social race and you a mix of social and biological race. I'd have to agree that biological race has always been around because it is an observable physical thing. But the age of social racism, and especially social racism based on biological race, is open to question.

Consider your anthropological evidence. Hunter-gatherers competed for resources directly with people nearest and thus most like themselves in appearance and social organization, not people who were different from them. They didn't fight along racial lines, but along tribal lines over territory with their nearest neighbours who, given the distributions of races and food sources, would have looked and acted just like them. Plains people versus plains people, mountain people versus mountain people, and coastal people versus coastal people. Take the ancient feud between the Huron and Iroquois, two groups who were virtually identical to each other in every way, even speaking the same language. They'd been at war (as far as they could remember) for at least 200 years.

Now ask the question: What does any of this have to do with racism? Does it explain anything about this history? Not really. Even if the Huron and Iroquois thought of themselves as different races, this was more likely an effect and not the cause of the enmity between them. In other words, the war came first, the racism second. After all, there was virtually no way to distinguish them from one another, and they looked, talked, and lived more like each other than they did like any of the other groups around them--and this is an important point, their primary enemies were those most like them. This is no anomaly either, and it generalizes right into the historical era. The ancient Greeks, for example, fought each other far, far more often than they fought outsiders. 


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #52 on: August 16, 2017, 02:24:34 PM »
Here's what happens when we eschew definitions. David seems to be talking about social race and you a mix of social and biological race. I'd have to agree that biological race has always been around because it is an observable physical thing. But the age of social racism, and especially social racism based on biological race, is open to question...

I agree. I minored in anthropology myself. I argue that racism is an inherent natural condition of humans, and is why multiculturalism is a doomed idea. There is natural backlash to outsiders when those outsiders begin to be noticeable in any significant numbers. Almost looked at as invaders. History proves this over and over.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #53 on: August 16, 2017, 02:55:10 PM »
It depends on how you do it. Let me make a comparison to homophobia. I recently started a historical mystery series. When the characters made some homophobic comments, I had no problem with it because the era was homophobic. It was still a hanging offense. However, when the author put in a number of homosexual characters all of whom were deplorable or worse in one way or another, I stopped reading.

Similar considerations apply to race. There is no point in pretending that it didn't and doesn't exist. It's when unrecognized racism seems to creep into our work that it is a problem (for me as a reader). I am writing a novel set in Oregon during WWII which was extremely racist at the time. I'd do myself and my reader a disservice if I ignored it, but how I present the characters is important too.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #54 on: August 16, 2017, 03:03:45 PM »
I would argue some of what you wrong is incorrect. As a trained anthropologist I can't find a time where race wasn't a dominant factor in the human timeline. There certainly hasn't been a timeline within the European and Asian civilizations where race wasn't always a huge factor. Are you referring to times where people were so insulated that they had no contact with others? Because those tended to be the most-racist of people.
Probably true but we're authors, not anthropologists. If our characters are not interacting with people of other races then it is usually a non-issue in the story. However, 'racism' has its interesting permutations such as a belief that the 'Celtic nations' are inferior.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #55 on: August 16, 2017, 07:06:01 PM »
I agree. I minored in anthropology myself. I argue that racism is an inherent natural condition of humans, and is why multiculturalism is a doomed idea. There is natural backlash to outsiders when those outsiders begin to be noticeable in any significant numbers. Almost looked at as invaders. History proves this over and over.
As a child I remember asking my mom why a woman's skin was so dark. It was the first time I'd seen a black person and I remember feeling curious, not afraid or feeling some inherent natural racism switch flipping on. Even in grade school, I remained curious about the differences - hair especially. Learning to fear difference came from my parents and relatives and other adults in my life. It wasn't an innate instinct.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #56 on: August 16, 2017, 08:07:51 PM »
Maybe it's worth exploring intent?

It seems to me, you have on the one hand, some version of historical accuracy, regardless of who the oppressed culture/race/religion may be. Silence was a recent Scorsese film that explored the experience of Christian missionaries, and the Christian Faith, in seventeenth-century Japan. Hotel Rwanda was a more recent, journalistic example.

On the other hand, perhaps the author is using examples of racism to make a point, be it how to endure, overcome, educate or as a metaphor to make some broader social commentary or empower their readers. Hidden Figures, Loving, Get Out, Snow Falling on Cedars.

Amistad, like many historic films, aimed to be more than a simple dramatic re-telling of "history". It meant to make us think while it educated. More often with these movies and books, it's about creating empathy. Glory, Schindler's List, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

The other other hand is fairly common too, especially in books, but can be much trickier; this is where racism is used for character development rather than as a metaphor, be it the MC or side characters or villains. It's trickier because depending upon how it's done, it could signal, or be mistaken for, author intrusion.

I think however one is planning to use an "ism" in their story, especially the uglier ones, it is important to have a clear understanding of your themes and what your're trying to say. It's easy to make a bad guy evil without using racism, but racist attitudes have become a cliche to signal evil. I think one should always ask yourself, when introducing anything horrific like this: Why is this in my story? What purpose does it serve? Why is this bad guy like this? Why is this society like this?

I'm not encouraging self-censorship or saying we shouldn't tackle the tough stuff, (how else would we move forward?), but I am saying: be respectful of your subject matter. Words have power. Maybe respect them too.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2017, 08:09:50 PM by P.J. Post »

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #57 on: August 16, 2017, 11:14:19 PM »
I would say most of the characters in my writing are racist. They may not agree that they are, but I would say they are. They all use racist terms, some in a very casual way, but more often in a direct, intentional way.

It suits who the characters are as most of them are [expletive]s.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #58 on: August 16, 2017, 11:42:21 PM »
I agree. I minored in anthropology myself. I argue that racism is an inherent natural condition of humans, and is why multiculturalism is a doomed idea. There is natural backlash to outsiders when those outsiders begin to be noticeable in any significant numbers. Almost looked at as invaders. History proves this over and over.

That's actually not true. Most of it today is learned behavior from a lifetime if nationalism and social othering.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #59 on: August 17, 2017, 12:04:44 AM »
As a child I remember asking my mom why a woman's skin was so dark. It was the first time I'd seen a black person and I remember feeling curious, not afraid or feeling some inherent natural racism switch flipping on. Even in grade school, I remained curious about the differences - hair especially. Learning to fear difference came from my parents and relatives and other adults in my life. It wasn't an innate instinct.
As a lot of people here know, my son is what they call today, special needs. He went to a special school with others like himself or worse off. When he started there at the age of seven, he made himself a lot of friends, one of which he talked about a lot, a little girl called Melanie. Speech has always been a major problem for Ian, so I asked him to take his time and tell me what Melanie looked like.

He said she had hair the same colour as the tv (he couldn't name colours at that point), she was a bit shorter than him, she had eyes the same colour as mine (brown) and a few other things. He never once mentioned that she was black, yet she was probably the first black person he had ever had close contact with. He had not even noticed.


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #60 on: August 17, 2017, 06:27:22 AM »
I agree. I minored in anthropology myself. I argue that racism is an inherent natural condition of humans, and is why multiculturalism is a doomed idea. There is natural backlash to outsiders when those outsiders begin to be noticeable in any significant numbers. Almost looked at as invaders. History proves this over and over.

I'm not sure we do agree. I said biological race (= observable human differences) has been around since human spread out from Africa, not that biological racism has (= hatred of different others or outsiders). The anthropological and historical evidence suggests that enmity occurs far more often between like people than between unlike ones. The Greeks and the two Iroquoian peoples, for example, warred with each more than they did with their dissimilar neighbours. Look at more recent examples. The two world wars involved multiple races on both sides. In fact, making alliances with distant and dissimilar peoples to fight closer and more similar neighbours is a universal in human conflict. Even the Greeks allied with non-Greeks against other Greeks in their never-ending wars with one another.

Of course, the ancient Greek culture itself is a counterexample to inherent racism. On the one hand, they were unashamedly self-regarding. They did consider themselves superior to everyone else, to the barbarians who didn't speak Greek. On the other hand, they actively engaged with and learned from other people, and they didn't pretend, as some people do, that they hadn't learned a lot from their neighbours (e.g., from the Egyptians and Phoenicians). On top of this, the Greeks thought they were, in some sense of the word, multi-racial. Dorians, Ionians, Pelagians, etc., were seen as something like races in the modern sense. The English long thought of themselves in this way too. It may sound strange for us to think of Anglo-Saxons, Britons, Danes, etc., as races because they're all Europeans. But that's not as important as how they thought of themselves.

Anyway, it's easy to say things like "racism defines human relations" if you restrict yourself to certain sections of, and events in, comparatively recent history. But it's a lot harder to generalize to everywhere, at all times, and in all things.     



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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #61 on: August 17, 2017, 07:01:21 AM »
I'm not sure we do agree. I said biological race (= observable human differences) has been around since human spread out from Africa, not that biological racism has (= hatred of different others or outsiders). The anthropological and historical evidence suggests that enmity occurs far more often between like people than between unlike ones. The Greeks and the two Iroquoian peoples, for example, warred with each more than they did with their dissimilar neighbours. Look at more recent examples. The two world wars involved multiple races on both sides. In fact, making alliances with distant and dissimilar peoples to fight closer and more similar neighbours is a universal in human conflict. Even the Greeks allied with non-Greeks against other Greeks in their never-ending wars with one another.

Of course, the ancient Greek culture itself is a counterexample to inherent racism. On the one hand, they were unashamedly self-regarding. They did consider themselves superior to everyone else, to the barbarians who didn't speak Greek. On the other hand, they actively engaged with and learned from other people, and they didn't pretend, as some people do, that they hadn't learned a lot from their neighbours (e.g., from the Egyptians and Phoenicians). On top of this, the Greeks thought they were, in some sense of the word, multi-racial. Dorians, Ionians, Pelagians, etc., were seen as something like races in the modern sense. The English long thought of themselves in this way too. It may sound strange for us to think of Anglo-Saxons, Britons, Danes, etc., as races because they're all Europeans. But that's not as important as how they thought of themselves.

Anyway, it's easy to say things like "racism defines human relations" if you restrict yourself to certain sections of, and events in, comparatively recent history. But it's a lot harder to generalize to everywhere, at all times, and in all things.   

I don't think those examples are necessarily accurate to this discussion or are reflective of human interaction in general. Even up to present day, just about any group with ANY differences whatsoever be them color, religion, political ideals, economic status, etc. engage in wide-scale conflict.

Just the very notion of being outside the "tribe" is enough the cast someone as the villian. Which we see time and time again. And sure, as I just mentioned, in more recent times people have even fought more amongst themselves but that's more confined to recent "settled" states. In the 50,000+ years humans lived in small bands there was unlikely to be much serious in-fighting. It was only when groups became so large that it was hard to know everyone well that more serious in-fighting would have become common.

The faceless stranger was much easier to "wrong" than your family or the guy in the next hut ...so to speak.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 07:03:11 AM by Herefortheride »
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Offline Al Stevens

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #62 on: August 17, 2017, 07:42:03 AM »
I would say most of the characters in my writing are racist. They may not agree that they are, but I would say they are. They all use racist terms, some in a very casual way, but more often in a direct, intentional way.
This raises an issue that have often given thought to. Some of my characters are as you describe yours. Not to define them as bad people, not to deliver a message, nor to define my own attitudes as the writer, but simply to define the characters. I grew up with them. Real people act and speak that way. I write about--I hope--real people.

We as writers may assume that some of our readers are so inclined and others are not. Depending on the bent of the reader, those characters are either good or bad people and not necessarily [expetive]s as you put it.

It's a challenge. Write a character who is okay with some readers and not okay with others and yet contributes to the story and helps move it along.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #63 on: August 17, 2017, 09:07:01 AM »
I don't think those examples are necessarily accurate to this discussion or are reflective of human interaction in general. Even up to present day, just about any group with ANY differences whatsoever be them color, religion, political ideals, economic status, etc. engage in wide-scale conflict.

First, my examples were representative. You can't get much more representative of "human interaction in general" than two world wars that involved virtually all humans. Second, part of my point is that conflicts over religion, politics, and economic status can't be attributed to or called racism unless racism just means conflict.

Third, as I pointed out, your abstract conflict over differences in race breaks down when you look at the facts in the real world. Asian Japan and South Korea are allied with the multi-racial, mixed-racial West against Asian North Korea. That's a political conflict defying racial lines. And this is but one case of many that have happened and are happening right now that encompass large swaths of the world. The truer generalization is that human groups choose allies and make enemies according to their interests, which are, to judge by the allies and enemies, rarely related to race.

Quote
Just the very notion of being outside the "tribe" is enough the cast someone as the villian. Which we see time and time again. And sure, as I just mentioned, in more recent times people have even fought more amongst themselves but that's more confined to recent "settled" states. In the 50,000+ years humans lived in small bands there was unlikely to be much serious in-fighting. It was only when groups became so large that it was hard to know everyone well that more serious in-fighting would have become common.

The faceless stranger was much easier to "wrong" than your family or the guy in the next hut ...so to speak.

First, tribes or kinship-groups are not races and, as far as anyone can tell, they didn't fight other groups because they didn't like the colour of their skins, if only because, as I pointed out, most fighting would have taken place between similar-looking people. Second, tribes have to cooperate with other tribes, at least some of the time, to obtain needs from beyond their territory (e.g., salt) and to avoid in-breeding. No one who despises all outsiders lives very long.

Third, and here's where you need to revisit your anthropology textbooks: Compare homicide rates within hunter-gather societies to deaths from external wars and you will see that the idea of "blaming outsiders/ the other" is an invention of very recent times. Every hunter-gather society I've ever read about blames disease, food shortages, pests, and sudden deaths on in-group members (usually through witchcraft), not out-group members. So that villain of yours is actually always the guy in the next hut.


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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #64 on: August 17, 2017, 09:21:15 AM »
First, my examples were representative. You can't get much more representative of "human interaction in general" than two world wars that involved virtually all humans. Second, part of my point is that conflicts over religion, politics, and economic status can't be attributed to or called racism unless racism just means conflict.

Third, as I pointed out, your abstract conflict over differences in race breaks down when you look at the facts in the real world. Asian Japan and South Korea are allied with the multi-racial, mixed-racial West against Asian North Korea. That's a political conflict defying racial lines. And this is but one case of many that have happened and are happening right now that encompass large swaths of the world. The truer generalization is that human groups choose allies and make enemies according to their interests, which are, to judge by the allies and enemies, rarely related to race.

First, tribes or kinship-groups are not races and, as far as anyone can tell, they didn't fight other groups because they didn't like the colour of their skins, if only because, as I pointed out, most fighting would have taken place between similar-looking people. Second, tribes have to cooperate with other tribes, at least some of the time, to obtain needs from beyond their territory (e.g., salt) and to avoid in-breeding. No one who despises all outsiders lives very long.

Third, and here's where you need to revisit your anthropology textbooks: Compare homicide rates within hunter-gather societies to deaths from external wars and you will see that the idea of "blaming outsiders/ the other" is an invention of very recent times. Every hunter-gather society I've ever read about blames disease, food shortages, pests, and sudden deaths on in-group members (usually through witchcraft), not out-group members. So that villain of yours is actually always the guy in the next hut.

Just about everything you wrote is completely false. Have you ever been to Japan and South Korea? Or Asia in general? It doesn't sound like you have much grasp on the ideals of race in Asia. And the alliance you are refering to between the US and Japan was forced upon Japan after WW2. We helped rewrite their constitution and said we'd be keeping bases in their territories, etc, etc. The reasons for invasion by the Japanese (and Germans) were largely based on RACE (or perceptions of race).

I'm not going to break down the other examples as you have a lot of research to learn about and places to visit before you dispute people with years of in the field research and degrees in the subject. But I do hope you try to become better informed on these issues as they are important and not anything like you have painted them.
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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #65 on: August 17, 2017, 10:08:43 AM »
Racism and bigotry are great literary devices. It enables you to show the very worst and very best of human nature. And the reference sources are, needless to say...abundant.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #66 on: August 17, 2017, 10:16:04 AM »
While not a major theme, I touch on it from time to time.

In my novel Crow Vector, my white protagonist has a discussion with a black colleague who asks him directly if he's been chosen to do something because he is black and the agency (the CDC) wants a black public face (because of accusations on the news that whites are getting better anti-virals during the pandemic they are dealing with, which is a false accusation because no antivirals work and everybody of whatever skin color is dying in shocking numbers.) My protag is uncomfortable with this discussion. The black scientist, who has just come back from investigating a MERS outbreak in S. Korea, sighs and says something like, "Well, if I can be black in Korea, I can be black in Washington DC, I suppose." My protagonist has a thought about how he doesn't know diddly about the experience of either and figures anything he says at that point will come out wrong. He is thrilled when they move away from the topic. He of course is aware of the history of infecting black people in the US to research various diseases, and he knows how awful that was.

In my volcano novel, a white family hosts a Japanese-American scientist for dinner and their 12 year old kid says something about Japanese monster movies, and the mother is embarrassed/horrified and shushes the kid, but the borderline autistic Japanese-American scientist says it's okay and actually enjoys talking about Japanese monster movies (Jet Jaguar is mentioned, as is Gamera, as I'm an MST3K fan)--it's his deepest human connection in the novel. And at another point, a Hmong teen protagonist and his buddies are at the school bus stop and say something about the cluelessness of white people.

All of this comes from experience or discussions with friends or, when I taught, overhearing students talk about race among themselves.

It's not like the main plot or anything, though it comes closer to being a plot point in Crow Vector, but half of what I write is set in today's USA, so I try to be accurate about what normal people think/talk like.

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #67 on: August 17, 2017, 11:36:11 AM »
Just about everything you wrote is completely false. Have you ever been to Japan and South Korea? Or Asia in general? It doesn't sound like you have much grasp on the ideals of race in Asia. And the alliance you are refering to between the US and Japan was forced upon Japan after WW2. We helped rewrite their constitution and said we'd be keeping bases in their territories, etc, etc. The reasons for invasion by the Japanese (and Germans) were largely based on RACE (or perceptions of race).

Are you saying the Japanese feel more allied with North Korea on account of race than they do with the U.S. on account of common interest? If you have such evidence, you better inform the State Department because the foolish Yankees are under the impression that the Empire of the Sun set in 1945. And please share it with me too because I'm under the same illusion.

ETA:

I forgot to address the WW2 angle. I don't deny that German and Japanese motivations had a big racial component. But it still doesn't fit your picture. You said racial differences create the conflicts. Yet the Germans (European) and Japanese (Asian) were allied against the Allies (European, Indian, African, and non-Japanese Asians). You can argue that the Axis was an alliance of convenience and that they each planned to eliminate the other when they'd taken care of the rest. But it doesn't change the fact that, for the time being, common interest in getting rid of their mutual enemies outweighed racial membership among hard-core racists. A more plausible explanation is social and political, where race was one component in, not the cause behind, the rise of two millenarian cults that took hold of these societies and spread in them like epidemics.   

Quote
I'm not going to break down the other examples as you have a lot of research to learn about and places to visit before you dispute people with years of in the field research and degrees in the subject. But I do hope you try to become better informed on these issues as they are important and not anything like you have painted them.

Facts would impress me more than credentials and put-downs. 

I have no problem backing up my claim that homicide rates are higher in virtually all known hunter-gatherer societies than the rate of death in war between groups in those societies. It's pretty much common knowledge nowadays because Steven Pinker made lots of hay in his last book by using these figures to support his claim that the world is so much nicer now. (I don't agree with Piker's whole thesis, but he did make the research known to the public.) A few other general books have come out too, but the names and titles escape me.

Being an expert, however, you'll probably want to begin with B. M. Knauft's work on the Gebusi in New Guinea, and perhaps with his article in Current Anthropology 28, no. 4 (1987): 547-500. He (unintentionally, it seems) and others reignited interest in violence in egalitarian societies and a stream of literature has come out since. It's all there waiting on Google Scholar.   

I'll even double-down by pointing to more facts. Crime statistics show you're far more likely to be killed by someone of your own race than someone from another race. Everyone here knows the reason too. People all over the world kill other people for the same motives writers make their money on: greed, jealousy, pride--basically, the Seven Deadly Sins. Inter-racial killings make the news because of their emotional and social salience, not because of their frequency. In fact, the FBI's hate crimes report for 2015 does not show a single case of murder:

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015-hate-crime-statistics-released

And the agency's report on homicides in the U.S. for 2010 doesn't even have a category for racially motivated homicide:

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expandhomicidemain

So does the FBI need more degrees and more fieldwork? Or does the fact that none of the 15,696 homicides in the U.S. in 2015 was determined to be racially motivated suggest that hating people because of their race is not a significant factor in human conflict? I'm in no way diminishing the harm and the effects of racism generally--far from it. But you're claiming it's at the root of human conflict, and I'm showing (as opposed to asserting on my own authority) that reality says otherwise.

 
« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 12:59:52 PM by WHDean »

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Re: Racism In Your Literature?
« Reply #68 on: August 17, 2017, 01:11:09 PM »
As a child I remember asking my mom why a woman's skin was so dark. It was the first time I'd seen a black person and I remember feeling curious, not afraid or feeling some inherent natural racism switch flipping on. Even in grade school, I remained curious about the differences - hair especially. Learning to fear difference came from my parents and relatives and other adults in my life. It wasn't an innate instinct.

When I was really young, we lived on an Air Force base in the South.  The first time I remember thinking there was anything obviously different was that a little girl in line at the commissary had about 12 barrettes in her hair and I thought that was just wonderful!  I wanted to know if my mom could do that with my hair and my mom looks over (and of course, I'm loud at 4) and the other mom is just smiling and trying not to laugh.  Kids notice things, but it's often not what's different/wrong, but what's different/better! :)


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