And discuss

And discuss….
I’ll start by saying that although we writers are often encouraged to “celebrate diversity” and “be inclusive” in our writing, I’ve seen FAR MORE of the type of reaction described in this article. Just this year, a well-established author of one race/ethnicity was lambasted, as in FLAYED ALIVE IN BOLD PRINT on a review site, which then sparked outrage across social media, for having written a character of another race/ethnicity “wrong.” The comments I read on that review site fell on both sides of the line. For some, “wrong” meant that character was portrayed TOO positively (the “magic [insert race/ethnicity of choice] girl/boy”). Others said the character was not portrayed positively ENOUGH (the “villainized [insert race/ethnicity of choice] girl/boy”). To me, that’s a catch 22 “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” situation, because no matter how you write a character of another race/ethnicity, SOMEbody from that group is going to take offense. The author in question actually responded to the comments and said she’d been trying to be inclusive in a positive, respectful way and had meant no offense. She was mortified and utterly bewildered by all the uproar and backlash. Witnessing that sort of incident does *not* encourage writers to “celebrate diversity” and “be inclusive” in their writing. It scares them into doing the exact opposite in an effort to be “safe.” But then those same writers risk getting slow-roasted over hot coals for “not being diverse enough” in their writing. Thoughts?

4 thoughts on “And discuss

  1. Here is the thing. I’ve been hearing about the struggles of authors of color getting their works published with the authenticity they bring because of ‘whitewashing’ industry tactics. So encouraging white authors to create characters of other colors seems like another way to promote diversity without actually having to introduce diverse authors and voices. That said, I personally don’t give a rat’s hind if the author is white or black, I need an creative voice sharing a story.

    1. That’s not a perspective I’d heard before, Jamey, at least not among romance authors. I’ve heard much more of a call to stop white-worlding in stories, regardless of the author’s ethnicity. This goes Liana’s damned if you do… point. I guess it’s a problem with a lot of facets–there’s what goes in the books, and who gets published, and who decides who and what get published (mostly cis white women managed by cis white guys).

  2. Yeah, it’s a problem. I’ve got a character of a different ethnicity in one of my stories, and I’ll probably get in trouble for my portrayal of her.
    The problem is that readers won’t see the character as she is, they will see her as THEY are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *