More Musings on Race

I’m tired of posting what other people are saying about race, now it’s time for some of my own thoughts.

When I first said “I’m going to write this story that’s in my head” I’d already decided that it was going to be a multiracial setting. I was tired of reading works where there was a continent of white folks and a continent of dirty savages black folks and never the two shall meet (except if they’re killing each other).

And then I noticed a couple of issues:

The first was that, in using a setting like pre-dynastic Sumer as a “base” for my secondary world, I inevitably found myself creating brown-skinned, black haired people (the Sumerians called themselves “the black headed people”) so at first it seemed odd to create black characters with kinky hair or white folks with any hair colour (especially since very light skin + desert climate doesn’t work so well). I decided I definitely wasn’t going to spend a lot of time describing any of my characters (so as not to exoticize “the other”) or use food metaphors  in my descriptions (seriously, who wants to hear that their skin looks like coffee?).

Then suddenly I realized something: Why was my protagonist’s best friend black (thus being a “black best friend”)? Why was the only white person in the story so far occupying the top position in the City? (Though to be fair, sie didn’t come in and take over.)

And then I thought “Man, I really am failing at this race thing….”

To be fair to myself, I’m not too far along in the story, so other characters will inevitably come along that will hopefully not make me want to slap myself. But the thing is, if this story is ever published, who is going to read this post, and say “Oh, okay, at least she was thinking about this.” Nope, they’re going to look at the book and say “Man, Gef is such a racist.” I guess there’s always the option of changing the characters, but for the moment, I’m content to leave them as is for now.

What do you think? Would it be better if I changed these characters or is it too soon to tell?

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4 thoughts on “More Musings on Race

  1. It’s really hard to have an opinion without knowing more about your story (like, why is the white person the main POV?) but there’s no reason you can’t finish a first draft, or at least keep writing while looking for opportunities to change what is bothering you, and then look at revising it with an sharper eye later.

    1. The white character isn’t the main character of the Big Story I have going (sie plays a minor role) but sie (sie’s intersex) is the main character of the short story I’m writing. The main character of the Big Story is, well, brown.

      1. Oh, I see. I still think the best solution is to write it and then look at it (or even better, have someone else look at it) and see where you succeed and where you could do better.

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