me: *looks at ocs i made 4 years ago*
me: we can rebuild them. we have the technology
I’ll bet you’d look adorable grasping at the sheets on my bed
no matter how many times u compliment me im not making ur bed
this has to be one of the best responses I’ve gotten to this text post
i met a cat named larry today
really sick of seeing so much hate directed towards the police on here. look, we get it, you prefer sting’s solo work, i like it too alright? that doesnt mean ‘every little thing she does is magic’ and ‘can’t stand losing you’ arent awesome jams. ‘roxanne’ and ‘don’t stand so close to me’ are classic, don’t even get me started on ‘spirits in the material world’. just stop ok?
But it has Adam Baldwin. I feel that’s an important point.
oh yes. yes it is a very important point
Short answer: yes, you should write more characters of color. But let me tell you why, really why.
I have said it before and I will say it again: The reason to include diversity in your work (and this goes for race, sexuality, gender, ability status, everything) should not be because you are afraid people will complain if you don’t. The reason to write POC is because we deserve stories, too. Please do not join the ranks of people who ignore us. You have recognized a problem in your writing—call it whitewashing, lack of diversity, what have you. But what I want you to do is recognize that it is a problem, and take the initiative to learn how to fix it.
- Troubleshooting: But my story isn’t about race. Why do I need POC in a story about [not race]?
There is a misconception out there that characters of color need a reason to be characters of color. White characters never face this kind of criticism, as if “white stories” are “normal stories” and “POC stories” are “race stories.” Race does not need an explanation.
"By saying that a character’s skin color needs to be essential to the plot to be described, you are saying that only white characters are worthy of having stories that don’t have anything to do with racism, racial identity, and other issues related to race and colorism. It’s not that hard to say your character isn’t white. Their ethnic and/or racial background does not need to tie into the plot for them to exist."
- Troubleshooting: I can just add in a few more characters and it’ll be fine.
The answer isn’t to toss in a few extras just to have characters of color. This is tokenism, and is not at all going to solve the problem. People of color deserve more than to be relegated to the background. We deserve to be represented as more than set pieces and one-off characters that revolve around a white cast and their problems.
- Troubleshooting: I’ve never done it before. / People will be mad if I do it wrong.
I get that it can be daunting to write POC if you have little or no experience doing so, if you have written them poorly in the past, or if you aren’t used to it. These are not valid reasons to avoid characters of color. These are flimsy excuses that writers hide behind to explain why they don’t write characters of color.
If you find yourself thinking this, it means that you need to do your research and get to writing. At some point, you need to buckle down and commit to writing what you learn about. This is not a task for next time, this is not a task for later, this is a problem now and there are answers now.
And it’s true—if you do it poorly, people will get on your case. This does not mean the only characters you are good at are white characters, but it does mean you had a misstep somewhere in your writing and research. That’s why we edit and have beta readers: to catch and identify these things before they go to print. Do not be afraid of criticism, it’s how we learn. There are plenty of kind people in the world who can help you, but they cannot help you if you refuse to start.
- Troubleshooting: I don’t know where to start.
We have plenty of resources here on the blog, and there are plenty of others out there that can help you get started writing characters of color:
- writingwithcolor. PLEASE FOLLOW IMMEDIATELY.
- Is It OK for a White Writer to have POC Main Characters?
- Racist writing is a craft issue
- Visibility Matters: Why POC Must Be Described As POC
- Tokenism vs. Representation vs. Inclusion
- NK Jemisin’s Guest of Honor Speech
- Why Representation Is Important: a bunch of links on the matter
- Diversity tag
- Race tag
So here is the thing: Maybe you wrote exclusively (or at least mostly) white in the past. Maybe this is the first you are learning of the whitewashing phenomenon in fiction and you want to learn more about diversity and representation. That’s great, and I am glad you want to learn more. What is going to cause problems between you and I is if you take all this information and decide that none of it applies to you. It does. It applies to everyone.
Now you know better. So—do better.
Thank you :]
This needs to be my future relationship