Avoiding Stereotypes by Changing Character and/or Traits
Luke Cage! You might want to change his power because a character like this already exists. But that’s the only reason.
Assuming you didn’t know about Luke Cage, the real question asks whether you should change some aspect of your story to avoid reinforcing a stereotype. I’m also assuming that you either meant the character’s ethnicity and/or their power. Change the character to a White man to avoid potentially writing a stereotype?
You could change the character to another POC, but you are going to run into the same problem. Change the characters powers to avoid writing a stereotype? You might be avoiding one stereotype and reinforcing another. Why don’t you avoid the stereotype by just writing a three dimensional character? If your story hinges on stereotypes, you need to rethink your story not your character.
I’m getting a little frustrated with people thinking that it’s the character’s race that is the problem with the story. This is why stories featuring POC don’t get made! What do you gain by changing a POC character to White? I can’t think of any benefit other than it shields you from potential criticism, which as a writer, you need to be open to if you plan to get any better at writing. And that goes with anything worth doing. Writing diverse characters is worth doing to not only to expand your knowledge, but also contribute to representing a portion of society that has limited representation.
Here’s a quote from Gene Luen Yang, a famous comic writer and artist.
"I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human. Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about." (Bolded for emphasis)
Keep your story the way you intended it to written. Push yourself past the fear. As I’ve said before in Avoiding Racial and Patriarchal Stereotypes, you are only reinforcing more powerful stereotypes by changing a character’s ethnicity to White.
Gene Luen Yang’s Diversity Speech
I get the concern with making the Black man a basically indestructible, pain-resistant character. And I would like to see more roles and powers in Black characters than strength-based ones. As mentioned in the FAQ, yes, people truly believe Black people (even children) feel less pain and thus we receive less medicine as well as sympathy when hurt and injured, even emotionally. Because we’re so strong that we can take it, right?
I personally am wondering why so many Black characters default to having a power connected to how strong and/or indestructible they are, and I personally want to see more depictions than this. Sleek characters, speedy characters, element-yielding characters, nimble characters… and not always your iron-skinned, impenetrable powerhouse. Black people are more than just strength.
Since you said “it” I’m taking you’re asking if you should change his power rather than his race. Najela already provides some wisdom above for both cases, but I’d hope, in any case, despite his body being so strong, he is allowed to have emotional vulnerability.
Does he have loved ones? Friends? A significant other? Family? Hell, a cat? What exactly are his weaknesses, even if they’re not physical? What could send him to his knees? Is his persona as hard as his skin?
You’re avoiding trouble when you make him a three-dimensional character, aka human, so i’d recommend that if you don’t want to change his power.
I’d also hope that, if there’s another Black character with powers, they don’t all have power based on indestructible strength, for then it really would feel as if you’re pressing in that strong, and often “scary" stereotype.