Author Topic: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread  (Read 1744 times)  

Offline BlossomBubblesButtercup

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POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« on: June 13, 2018, 09:41:33 PM »
Hello!
There are a lot of great support threads on Kboards and I was wondering if anyone was interested in one for POC authors and/or characters?

Online L_Loryn

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 09:46:27 PM »
If there isn't one already, then it looks like you just made it. :)

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 09:56:52 PM »
I agree that there needs to be more support for POC lit, especially visibility. Might as well just make it be this one, since I haven't seen one yet. :)
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Offline Becca Mills

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 10:17:04 PM »
We've had a number of discussions, but I don't believe we've had a support thread ... until now! :)

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 11:03:30 PM »
WOOOO!

*Sets up a tent*

Offline BlossomBubblesButtercup

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2018, 02:34:12 AM »
Yay!
Then to get the discussion going I have a question: So far my main characters have reflected my own ethnicity and culture but I'd love to write about characters from all sorts of places and backgrounds. The issue is I'm worried I'll veer into stereotype territory because I don't know enough about the culture to write a character from that point of view.
How do other authors tackle this?

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2018, 07:34:58 AM »
Yay!
Then to get the discussion going I have a question: So far my main characters have reflected my own ethnicity and culture but I'd love to write about characters from all sorts of places and backgrounds. The issue is I'm worried I'll veer into stereotype territory because I don't know enough about the culture to write a character from that point of view.
How do other authors tackle this?

I do it two ways:

-Have them rediscover their culture or be detached from their culture for some reason. Like trying to fit into another.

-Do a LOT of research, but dont go heavy handed. Ill include food, language, and general expectations, but ultimately people still have their personalities.


As far as stereotyping, I would try to avoid stereotyping the main characters, but secondary and tertiary can be a little stereotypical.


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Offline RaeC

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2018, 07:51:06 AM »
Great to have one of these threads around!

Can't disagree with L_Loryn's advice concerning writing outside your ethnicity and culture. I would add re:research that talking to people of whom you'll be representing is an easy way to make sure you don't stick foot in mouth.

It's not going to be perfect. Hell, the way I write my own peeps isn't perfect, and I've been in this skin my whole life.
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Online Fran Feliz

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 09:07:22 AM »
I agree, and it can be a challenge. As someone raised in a bilingual U.S. household of Hispanic descent, I can definitely feel comfortable writing Latinx characters, but even I can get it wrong at times, hence many of my characters being Americanized. The thing is, I'm only familiar with being from a Puerto Rican family, which can differ from other Hispanic households. It'll always be a challenge to write what you don't know, but that's why research is so important. That said, the best research will always be personal experience, something that isn't possible for everyone, so we just have to do our best. Good luck to those writing different cultures outside of their own! :)
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Online dj Rangel

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 11:19:50 AM »
And sometimes personal experience can be iffy. I've about finished with the 3rd book in a 3 book series set in San Antonio with the 3 heroes (I write romance) all from the same barrio neighborhood on the West Side of town. Each of the 3 stories displays a different aspect of the culture, 2 skim lightly, but one is fairly in-depth -- and the one that required the least research because it was a part of my own life for a while. It is also the one I worry about the most when it comes to possibly stepping on cultural toes. Not the toes on that side of San Antonio, but the Hispanic toes elsewhere, including the North side of San Antonio. One side poor, the other middle class. And then there are the Hispanics everywhere else in the U.S. who may see my West Side setting as condescending or an Anglo's perception of Hispanics at large as being poor and relatively uneducated. Which isn't my perception at all, but what if a reader is really sensitive about what they're reading? Or reads things into my story that I don't mean to be there? I know what I'm writing has truth, but it is also local and may not be true in other locales. An Hispanic beta reader from the North side of the city read the story and said she didn't find anything negative in it, but still I worry.

On a different note: you used the term Latinx. I've seen it written that way a couple of times recently, but it's a new spelling to me. Is there a meaning I am not familiar with behind the spelling?


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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2018, 11:31:33 AM »
Great to have one of these threads around!

Can't disagree with L_Loryn's advice concerning writing outside your ethnicity and culture. I would add re:research that talking to people of whom you'll be representing is an easy way to make sure you don't stick foot in mouth.

It's not going to be perfect. Hell, the way I write my own peeps isn't perfect, and I've been in this skin my whole life.

RaeC! OMG I went to Ole Miss for undergrad!!

Yeah, the thing with writing different people is that there is no perfect. No one is the perfect example of their culture/ethnicity so it's not something to worry about. I've found that people appreciate the different representation.

Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2018, 11:52:10 AM »
I am certainly no expert...but I do think the more diversity we have in our characters, the more readers we may have for our stories. :)

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2018, 11:53:16 AM »
And sometimes personal experience can be iffy. I've about finished with the 3rd book in a 3 book series set in San Antonio with the 3 heroes (I write romance) all from the same barrio neighborhood on the West Side of town. Each of the 3 stories displays a different aspect of the culture, 2 skim lightly, but one is fairly in-depth -- and the one that required the least research because it was a part of my own life for a while. It is also the one I worry about the most when it comes to possibly stepping on cultural toes. Not the toes on that side of San Antonio, but the Hispanic toes elsewhere, including the North side of San Antonio. One side poor, the other middle class. And then there are the Hispanics everywhere else in the U.S. who may see my West Side setting as condescending or an Anglo's perception of Hispanics at large as being poor and relatively uneducated. Which isn't my perception at all, but what if a reader is really sensitive about what they're reading? Or reads things into my story that I don't mean to be there? I know what I'm writing has truth, but it is also local and may not be true in other locales. An Hispanic beta reader from the North side of the city read the story and said she didn't find anything negative in it, but still I worry.

On a different note: you used the term Latinx. I've seen it written that way a couple of times recently, but it's a new spelling to me. Is there a meaning I am not familiar with behind the spelling?

Yep, this is very true, and I have often worried about that. I wonder if some kind of statement in the front or back matter of the book could help. Or maybe if you had different characters with different views on the same locale, but then, that might not work for every story.

"Latinx" has been around for... a few years now? It's most often used by the LGBTQ community, particularly by nonbinary individuals. It's pronounced la-TEE-nex, despite there not being an E. It coincides with the gender-neutral X in the title Mx. for gender-neutral identities to avoid Mr./Mrs., etc. I understand many people consider it a PC/SJW issue, but I disagree. "Latino/Latina" are socially problematic for nonbinary people in that they only specify male and female. The other option "Latin@" has a similar social issue in that it's still binary. Yes, "Latinos" historically includes everyone, but this is where it also becomes a feminist issue with the masculine form taking power. This of course applies mostly to English, but I imagine some who only or mostly speak Spanish might use it, or they might even "latine" for a more Spanish gender-neutral option. I hope this helps! :)
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Online dj Rangel

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2018, 12:37:57 PM »
Thanks. I just learned something. Trying to identify in this multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-gender country of ours can certainly become problematic. Especially when one is more than one. :) Example: my children are half anglo, half Hispanic and participate in both cultures so which little box do they check? It's an interesting (and often frightening) world we live in these day.


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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2018, 12:42:29 PM »
No problem, and I agree! Anything to help raise awareness and visibility. :)
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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2018, 12:46:09 PM »
I have a little theater where I direct plays I write. I'm in Miami in a Haitian part of town, so with playwriting, I could just write the plays I want (myth and magical realism) and then cast the local, talented Latins and blacks. This worked out well because the actors put much of themselves into their roles. I learned during rehearsals that as a white lady of respectable age, I had to be very gentle to my black actresses when giving them direction because what won't bother a white person, comes across as threatening to a black person. Also audience reactions are very enlightening. One night we had an all black audience, and there is a moment when my character, a crazy puppeteer, is angry (she's a cantankerous soul) with her two assistants. The audience assumed when I (that is my character) demanded that they put out their hands that I was about to accuse them of theft. But my character is looking for Velcro in their palms because she half-thinks they are puppets and need Velcro to pick objects up.  When I went off and returned with Velcro and put it in their palms, I  could feel the audience's astonishment and pleasure that this was not going the way they thought it would. As a white person I learned from that performance how often blacks are falsely accused of misdeeds.

So I finally got up the daring to use Indian (Hindustani) type of characters in a novel because I don't like it when all the characters are one color and only speak one language. I had been watching and studying Indian films for years, taking the occasional Indian classical dance class, reading Indian history, reading about their religion and theater, and talking to many Indian people. Also I have an Hindu friend from when I went to a high school in London who invited me to two weddings in her family. Whenever I had a question they were always willing to explain things to me and let me take part in the wedding rituals. So I write this Indian main character as a foil to my white main character and my writing group tells me they like the Indian character much better my white character, so I wrote more scenes for her. Nevertheless I do feel very anxious that this character will offend people because she has flaws though is a heroic character. The white character seems to have no flaws but then she erupts in anger and hurt in a very destructive way (but that doesn't happen until book 2).

I'm in the midst of writing the fourth and last book in the series, and most of it is set in the India type of place. I saw some more Indian films that were set in their ancient cities, and these places are so astonishingly that they really inspire me.

It does take daring to write outside of one's own life experience, but if no one ever does it out of a sense of expressing truth, we are going to have the same boring, idiotic stories of hate and condescension that has so far misshaped American consciousness.

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2018, 03:38:22 PM »

It does take daring to write outside of one's own life experience, but if no one ever does it out of a sense of expressing truth, we are going to have the same boring, idiotic stories of hate and condescension that has so far misshaped American consciousness.

Does someone really only write inside their life experiences? If they do, then they're going to run out of stories pretty quickly.

I tend to take elements of things from my life (various places I've stayed), but it's pretty impossible to stick to just your life experiences.

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2018, 03:23:21 AM »
Does someone really only write inside their life experiences? If they do, then they're going to run out of stories pretty quickly.

I tend to take elements of things from my life (various places I've stayed), but it's pretty impossible to stick to just your life experiences.

As a Sci-Fi/Spec Fiction writer, I write outside my own experiences all the time. I've yet to live in a Dystopian city, or in a post-apocalyptic environment, or on another planet. hahaha So I don't think you need to be of the same exact background to write a certain way--what I think you have to do is learn to be empathetic to other people and how they see the world. So far, I have written as several characters and several different races. To my ease, because I'm writing in a different age/time, I'm not limited to cultural norms. In 3095 who is to say that anyone will act the same or have even the same culture.

One thing I try to do, especially because I write a lot of MG and YA is to include biracial children. I had a lady read one of my MG books and was thrilled that the main character was biracial, because that was rare to find--especially because the main character was a boy and was mixed with Asian & White and not Black and White.

So far in my books I have: Blacks, Whites, Latinx (trying to use the word for the first time) (Puerto Rican, Mexican), Indians, Asians (Korean, Japanese, Chinese), and several versions of Biracial characters. Even my "extras" the characters that will come in and say three lines in the whole book, get an ethnicity. In my books the reader never has to assume the race of the character, because I tell them. I've had a few editors who don't like my explicit saying that this character is this race, etc, but I feel like representation is important. I don't like ambiguity and you can't describe race IMO effectively. "Brown skinned and curly haired" could mean so many things. Also what's "fair" or "dark" to some people is totally different than what "fair" or "dark" means to someone else.

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2018, 07:57:45 AM »
The first thing to do is to be open to other's experience. Accept that while fundamentally humans are the same, we come from so many different lives that even in a particular community there will be variations of outlooks, experience and beliefs.

The neat thing about the current time is we can communicate with people from places we never would have dreamed of knowing about. If I wanted to write about any person anywhere in the world, I can get on the Internet and do it, in real time. That's amazing! The more we talk with each other the more we share our lives, our hopes and our dreams, the closer we become.
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Online L_Loryn

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2018, 10:08:53 AM »
As a Sci-Fi/Spec Fiction writer, I write outside my own experiences all the time. I've yet to live in a Dystopian city, or in a post-apocalyptic environment, or on another planet. hahaha So I don't think you need to be of the same exact background to write a certain way--what I think you have to do is learn to be empathetic to other people and how they see the world. So far, I have written as several characters and several different races. To my ease, because I'm writing in a different age/time, I'm not limited to cultural norms. In 3095 who is to say that anyone will act the same or have even the same culture.

One thing I try to do, especially because I write a lot of MG and YA is to include biracial children. I had a lady read one of my MG books and was thrilled that the main character was biracial, because that was rare to find--especially because the main character was a boy and was mixed with Asian & White and not Black and White.

So far in my books I have: Blacks, Whites, Latinx (trying to use the word for the first time) (Puerto Rican, Mexican), Indians, Asians (Korean, Japanese, Chinese), and several versions of Biracial characters. Even my "extras" the characters that will come in and say three lines in the whole book, get an ethnicity. In my books the reader never has to assume the race of the character, because I tell them. I've had a few editors who don't like my explicit saying that this character is this race, etc, but I feel like representation is important. I don't like ambiguity and you can't describe race IMO effectively. "Brown skinned and curly haired" could mean so many things. Also what's "fair" or "dark" to some people is totally different than what "fair" or "dark" means to someone else.

I didn't say you needed to be of the exact background, I was asking if others thought they did. Feeling like you do reminds me of something Tyra Banks said on America's Next Top Model. One girl complained about being a virgin so she couldn't portray "love". Tyra's comment was: You have never been all the other [older photo shoots] either.

This comment stuck with me because it's true and I hear the excuse a lot. I'm not POC, I can't write POC! Well, you're not both/all genders (people write from male POV in romance all the time). For me, I've never been a repairman, a recording artist, lost a sister to a tragic accident, been a financial officer in a business -- these are just random things I've written about. But they've never stopped me from writing. I don't have those people's experiences either. Nor do I have the experiences of a hispanic person, japanese person, native person.

I don't go out of my way to "include" biracial people only because, well, a lot of times biracial people are seen as prettier than the two races/ethnicities they came from. It's a problem. So for most of my stories, my people aren't of mixed descent, or if they are, their last name falls under an ethnic last name and I never bring up the mixed descent portion (I'll always know if they are or not, but it may not pop out in the story).

Most people don't like a preoccupation around race/ethnicity (that's usually how it feels to non-poc people). However, I have a question. You point out everyone's race/ethnicity? So you also are clear in saying when someone's Non-POC? I've noticed in a lot of works, people will be clear about every POC, but when it comes down to the generic White person, the white person isn't as heavily described, more things are assumed. Like, the author will state "This person is Japanese. This other person has blonde hair."-- okay what's the blonde haired person, then? Are they African? Are they Russian?

I don't like the description of "fair skinned". And I only use "dark" for hair and eyes generally. Dark eyes is dark eyes (brown/black). Dark hair is dark hair (brown/black). Anything else I use a myriad of descriptions (nonfood related, generally): mahogany, oak, tawny, tan, fawn, ochre, russet, terra-cotta, and so forth. I do use "creamy" but it's more to describe how the person feels or how the viewer thinks they feel.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2018, 10:52:40 AM »
Most people don't like a preoccupation around race/ethnicity (that's usually how it feels to non-poc people). However, I have a question. You point out everyone's race/ethnicity? So you also are clear in saying when someone's Non-POC? I've noticed in a lot of works, people will be clear about every POC, but when it comes down to the generic White person, the white person isn't as heavily described, more things are assumed. Like, the author will state "This person is Japanese. This other person has blonde hair."-- okay what's the blonde haired person, then? Are they African? Are they Russian?

Yeah, I think descriptions of white characters very commonly lean on readers' unconscious assumptions of whiteness instead of explicitly stating the characters' race. An author may feel it's easier or more efficient to just let that happen, but when you stand back and compare -- as a small but growing number of readers are wont to do, I think -- the different treatment is noticeable and surely off-putting. I think it's a good habit to break.

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2018, 12:03:39 PM »
This comment stuck with me because it's true and I hear the excuse a lot. I'm not POC, I can't write POC! Well, you're not both/all genders (people write from male POV in romance all the time). ... I don't have those people's experiences either. Nor do I have the experiences of a hispanic person, japanese person, native person.

Agreed. In fact this was in another thread a long time ago. The point of that particular with the thread was that POCs were saying that they want to be seen as something other than the stereotypical ethnic being. So don't say I want to write a story about a guy who plays basketball and then make the character black. If Black Panther (Movie) has shown America anything is that POCs want to be the Harry Potters and Katnis Everdeens and not be there just because they are a POC or to be tokenated where it's the same story but they just happen to be a POC.

I don't go out of my way to "include" biracial people only because, well, a lot of times biracial people are seen as prettier than the two races/ethnicities they came from. It's a problem. So for most of my stories, my people aren't of mixed descent, or if they are, their last name falls under an ethnic last name and I never bring up the mixed descent portion (I'll always know if they are or not, but it may not pop out in the story).

That's understandable. Especially for certain kinds of fiction. I think an authors desire is their own and to some degree shouldn't be questioned. However, I've stood in front of kids from 2nd grade to 8th grade at school functions. I've seen the biracial kids wonder where they fit. It's not their fault that they exist, and from their perspective no one celebrates them or their parents's union. I will not tell someone who they should marry or have kids with, but my concern is the kids.

These days about 10% of the kids I run into are biracial. My books don't lean toward any child as being more attractive than another one, unless those characters are the main characters and there needs to be attraction. My goal is for kids to read my books and say "I see myself. There I am." While POCs have been trying to get this point across for a long time, as we build the next generation, I would like to extend a palm leaf toward the kids who are biracial or multi-ethnic as well because technically they are POCs too.

Most people don't like a preoccupation around race/ethnicity (that's usually how it feels to non-poc people). However, I have a question. You point out everyone's race/ethnicity? So you also are clear in saying when someone's Non-POC? I've noticed in a lot of works, people will be clear about every POC, but when it comes down to the generic White person, the white person isn't as heavily described, more things are assumed. Like, the author will state "This person is Japanese. This other person has blonde hair."-- okay what's the blonde haired person, then? Are they African? Are they Russian?

Generally, I do. Everyone gets a race. LOL
Here's a quote from one of my books:

A figure appeared in his gaze. Red and brown hair swayed from side to side. Two green eyes stared at him. The mouth was pulled taut to the side and both tanned hands were on the figures hips.
The figure, that his brain registered as a thirteen-year-old white girl, pulled a short rod from her back.


I'm writing to the future and beyond America. If this book ends up in Africa or Asia or India, generally majority populations assume the characters look like themselves. (In India the majority is Indian, not white) I do my best to make sure that people know who the characters are and what they look like. I do get some flack, but honestly if that small bit of information that spans less than a half a page over the course of a 300 page book is enough to stop you reading, then I'd say go find some other books that cater to your ego. My goal is to have books that are fun and inclusive.

I don't like the description of "fair skinned". And I only use "dark" for hair and eyes generally. Dark eyes is dark eyes (brown/black). Dark hair is dark hair (brown/black). Anything else I use a myriad of descriptions (nonfood related, generally): mahogany, oak, tawny, tan, fawn, ochre, russet, terra-cotta, and so forth. I do use "creamy" but it's more to describe how the person feels or how the viewer thinks they feel.
I use a lot of things to describe skin color from pale as a sheet to mahogany to appears like a cup of steaming hot cocoa. I use what I "think" the character would use. I know some POCs don't like food descriptions, and I've read a few articles from bloggers discussing it. However, I use what I think the character would think about. An eleven year old kid is not going to think oh wow his skin was the perfect color of mahogany. They might think, he looks like a cup of hot chocolate with a piece of peppermint melted inside.

I think one of the issues with threads like these and even with books that have POCs is that many times everyone has a different view of what is "good" and "helpful." Like I said I've been "pinged" for saying the character is this race or that.

It it bothers me to this day the backlash over Rue in the Hunger Games, and I feel almost like it was irresponsible of the author to allow this. If she had simply said Rue was black we wouldn't have had an issue. We live in a racially charged environment where POCs want to be considered from the very beginning. So for me, it's okay that a few people don't like it.

I believe everything has to be done with caution and with lots of sensitivity readers (if possible). But like I said earlier, I think its important to me empathetic to other people's struggles and most importantly be true to the character. I do my best to give every character a background, real emotions, and do my best to break stereotypes--even ones for white people.

Online L_Loryn

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2018, 12:26:18 PM »
Agreed. In fact this was in another thread a long time ago. The point of that particular with the thread was that POCs were saying that they want to be seen as something other than the stereotypical ethnic being. So don't say I want to write a story about a guy who plays basketball and then make the character black. If Black Panther (Movie) has shown America anything is that POCs want to be the Harry Potters and Katnis Everdeens and not be there just because they are a POC or to be tokenated where it's the same story but they just happen to be a POC.

That's understandable. Especially for certain kinds of fiction. I think an authors desire is their own and to some degree shouldn't be questioned. However, I've stood in front of kids from 2nd grade to 8th grade at school functions. I've seen the biracial kids wonder where they fit. It's not their fault that they exist, and from their perspective no one celebrates them or their parents's union. I will not tell someone who they should marry or have kids with, but my concern is the kids.

These days about 10% of the kids I run into are biracial. My books don't lean toward any child as being more attractive than another one, unless those characters are the main characters and there needs to be attraction. My goal is for kids to read my books and say "I see myself. There I am." While POCs have been trying to get this point across for a long time, as we build the next generation, I would like to extend a palm leaf toward the kids who are biracial or multi-ethnic as well because technically they are POCs too.

Generally, I do. Everyone gets a race. LOL
Here's a quote from one of my books:

A figure appeared in his gaze. Red and brown hair swayed from side to side. Two green eyes stared at him. The mouth was pulled taut to the side and both tanned hands were on the figures hips.
The figure, that his brain registered as a thirteen-year-old white girl, pulled a short rod from her back.


I'm writing to the future and beyond America. If this book ends up in Africa or Asia or India, generally majority populations assume the characters look like themselves. (In India the majority is Indian, not white) I do my best to make sure that people know who the characters are and what they look like. I do get some flack, but honestly if that small bit of information that spans less than a half a page over the course of a 300 page book is enough to stop you reading, then I'd say go find some other books that cater to your ego. My goal is to have books that are fun and inclusive.
I use a lot of things to describe skin color from pale as a sheet to mahogany to appears like a cup of steaming hot cocoa. I use what I "think" the character would use. I know some POCs don't like food descriptions, and I've read a few articles from bloggers discussing it. However, I use what I think the character would think about. An eleven year old kid is not going to think oh wow his skin was the perfect color of mahogany. They might think, he looks like a cup of hot chocolate with a piece of peppermint melted inside.

I think one of the issues with threads like these and even with books that have POCs is that many times everyone has a different view of what is "good" and "helpful." Like I said I've been "pinged" for saying the character is this race or that.

It it bothers me to this day the backlash over Rue in the Hunger Games, and I feel almost like it was irresponsible of the author to allow this. If she had simply said Rue was black we wouldn't have had an issue. We live in a racially charged environment where POCs want to be considered from the very beginning. So for me, it's okay that a few people don't like it.

I believe everything has to be done with caution and with lots of sensitivity readers (if possible). But like I said earlier, I think its important to me empathetic to other people's struggles and most importantly be true to the character. I do my best to give every character a background, real emotions, and do my best to break stereotypes--even ones for white people.

I can't get fancy and slice and dice comments like you.

Yeah LOTS of children are biracial and I absolutely understand the "where do I fit in" situation. I've experienced it most of my life being a child who lived in 3-4 different states before the age of 10, being a "white sounding" black person, etc etc. Two of my closest friends talk about the different childhood experiences surrounding race at length. They're both biracial men and while they had issues finding places to sit, they had no shortage of women interested in.... you know.... and wanting to make "pretty babies" with them.

I write romance, so I make my characters pure ethnicities to avoid the "light skinned" person always being the attractive one. In my current WIP, the supposed "top" is a rich Black guy. The supposed bottom is, well, he's not really sure what he is. He's brown hair and hazel eyes "generic" wildcard person. Because, truth is, a LOT of people have no idea what they are.

At the end of the day, I really don't think there's a right or wrong way to do it. You'll get dinged for throwing out exactly what race/ethnicity everyone is. And then there's the matter of American White / Black not actually being a race or ethnicity at all as compared to someone being Nigerian or Japanese or even German. I'm sure I get dinged for using weird racially ambiguous people on my covers and not outwardly warning people they're about to read about a multicultural relationship.

And I have mixed feelings about sensitivity readers. It seems extra to me, but I'm sure people need it because they don't notice the underlying implications of even the simplest stuff. Though, I don't expect anything to be perfect. At the end of the day, trying to clear a whole book from implications means the character you're writing from has no bias-- that's not true.

Online L_Loryn

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2018, 12:30:12 PM »
Yeah, I think descriptions of white characters very commonly lean on readers' unconscious assumptions of whiteness instead of explicitly stating the characters' race. An author may feel it's easier or more efficient to just let that happen, but when you stand back and compare -- as a small but growing number of readers are wont to do, I think -- the different treatment is noticeable and surely off-putting. I think it's a good habit to break.

Agreed. I think it's important to note, just like with feminism in a way, fighting for more inclusion of POC is also a fight for a fair inclusion of white people. If I expect to know an American Black person from a Black Nigerian person, I'd like to also know if the white person in question is Italian or Russian or whatever. Or if they don't know what they are, I would like it expressed that they don't.

Offline RRodriguez

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Re: POC Authors / Diverse Books Support Thread
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2018, 12:40:03 PM »
White people don't avoid writing POCs because "I can't relate to them". They avoid writing POC's because they are TOLD by POCs "you can't relate to me." I'm biracial, and as this thread has already proven, I don't even know if I'm qualified to have this type of opinion, so I'll make this short. POC are tired of having their voices taken from them. They tell white people not to write their stories. White authors want to include diversity, and as humans do, sometimes make mistakes. POCs are understandably upset at being further slandered and stereotyped and again, tell white people not to write about them. White authors stop including racial diversity for fear of making further mistakes because it's all too easy to be labeled a racist, and are still called racist for only having white casts.

Research is great. Sensitivity readers are FANTASTIC. But POCs, like any group of people, aren't a monolith. I can get 20 people to sensitivity read my book about someone who is a different race than I am. What are the chances I'm going to make all 20 readers happy? I'm not, because them being the same race doesn't mean they all think the same or view issues the same way. Maybe I make 90% of them happy, they feel my book is accurate and sensitive. I'll still have that 10% calling me a bigot and a racist because their views aren't the same as the others.

I'm working on a book about my personal experience within a certain minority group. I already KNOW it's not going to align with how a majority of people within this group feel. Maybe I'll get a pass because I'm also within the group and it's my own experience. But what if someone else wrote the book? Someone who wasn't in the group? Because the experience doesn't align with the majority, they'd likely get ripped to shreds and called awful names and told to "stay in their lane".
« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 01:12:49 PM by RRodriguez »
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