Anonymous said: Are there any stereotypes to avoid when writing a parent-child relationship in a black family? Thank you! ^^
A Note on Stereotypes
First of all, there are real People of Color who have realities that are “stereotypical.” Sometimes circumstance and culture dictates somewhat recurring themes in certain peoples lives. But that should in no way speak of the worth of those individuals.
And while there are definitely stereotypes fulfilled and realized in the Black community, that shouldn’t grade their worth, nor the whole lot of are worth.
On the other hand, I want to see more than only stereotypical portrayals being brought forth on my screen. Even if some stereotypes ring true in some people’s lives, it is detrimental for media to milk one image of a human being, and in this case Black family life, as it adds to the belief of that group of people being as a monolith with the same ole situation, say ole story.
Plus, as mentioned, people are not their stereotypes yet when we’re given the same image of a person over and over, that’s certainly all they become. More caricature, less human.
Writing Black Family Relationships
On that note, I do think there are “universal truths” so to speak within some Black cultures, and as you’ll see in Black tumblr/twitter memes “Black mamas be like…black family reunions be like…” Which I find myself laughing at because they’re often so true to my life and experiences.
Instead of focusing on not creating a stereotypical family life or parent-child relationship with a Black family, though, try focusing on the circumstances that surround your character, their personality, and their community.
Who are their parents? Are they still together, divorced? Both alive? How close is your character to their parents? What is their parenting style? How does your character get along with her parents? Do they share the same religion, beliefs? How much can they confide in one or more parent? How comfortable is their dynamic; it is strict, laid-back, somewhere in between? Again worry less about falling into a stereotype, but what’s true for your character’s reality.
You’ll know you’re falling into some problematic areas if the storyline lacks complexity, with one negative aspect after another without anything dynamic to it. If you’re still worried, I suggest searching “black family stereotypes” to get a feel of the sort of redundant portrayals in media and society.
Remember the good ole 90s and early 2000’s with all its Black sitcom families? The Baxters (That’s so Raven). The Huxtables (The Cosby Show). The Banks (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). The Winslows (Family Matters)…
Within this array of shows we’ve got all sorts of varied relationships between parent – child and none come off as problematic to me. You’ve got goofy, uncool parents, busy, working-class parents, upper-class parents, chill parents. strict parents…
Kids who get into mischief and are rightly disciplined, kids who get love and support…kids who jest with their parents and get quipped back in return… yeah know, just normal life and family stuff. And that’s what I, personally, want to see more of.
On POC Characters not being “authentic” enough