nadine-usagichan said: Ok so, I’m writing a sort of fantasy, magical-girl type story and the two main characters are african-american. I was planning on not really describing what the girls looked like until a little bit later on in the story all the while having the readers get to know their personalities and the story plot. Do you think this is sort of an ok way to get readers from thinking “Oh these characters are black so I totally can’t relate to them”?
I don’t think you should have to condition your story to readers who won’t allow themselves to relate to a character unless they come into it not knowing the character is Black. If anything, being ambiguous for too long will have readers picturing their default human (aka usually White, even among PoC) and then to mention later on “Oh yeah; they’re Black.” will likely have readers rejecting the notion and sticking with their own head cannons.
Readers can get to know the characters’ personality and the plot while still knowing they’re Black. Because whether it factors into the plot or not, that’s a part of them too.
It’s fairer to readers of all races to not attempt to hoodwink them into being comfortable with the White or ambiguous character then going “Aha! they’re black!”
As a Black girl myself, I would actually like indicators of the characters being African American sooner rather than later. I want to know what they look like, know that they have brown skin (if they do), how their hair is like, and so on. That’s a part of representation.
It’s one thing to not linger very long on the fact that they’re Black, but a whole other to intentionally withhold the information so readers get comfortable enough for you to land the fact on them as if it’s some great and terrible thing that they need to be sitting down for.
I’d suggest not making a secret of it. And if readers decide they can’t
won’t empathize with awesome magical Black girls, that’s their problem.