Black Woman Gladiator with Servitude Ties
I have a fantasy story with a black female MC. She is in a industry where homeless children are snatched off the streets and trained as gladiators. When they become adults they can be “rented out” as bodyguards and such.
There are gladiators of all races and are judged by their performance. However, I realized it could be very problematic to have a black protagonist in this position, due to how similar it is to slavery in how the gladiators are treated as objects or animals.
The race of the character was a complete coincidence bc I created the character before I created the plot. And the whole system is shown to be corrupt, kind of like a fantasy dystopian society.
I wouldn’t want to take away diversity from the story by making her white, but still, this greatly worries me and I’m really unsure if I should continue the story as is. Do you have any advice on how to handle the situation? Is it like super offensive and problematic? (I’m so sorry if it is!)
The first thing that comes to mind is, would this be representation I’d want to read as a Black person? This really is a concept we get too much to be a mere coincidence and it makes me wonder what would be best to do.
In terms to debunking harmful tropes it would best be left to a Black author who has their own lived experiences to find the right nuances, points and areas to focus on and sensitivity to write this so it’s not jarring even with the best of intentions. And with a premise and protag like this you really need that sensitivity and knowledge to give it different from all the other harmful representation we get.
Another thing that comes to mind is that it would be great if your Black MC is not dehumanized in your writing, even if other characters are. This story needs a fully developed and complex character and they need agency, even if it’s limited by their situation. Allow them to be vulnerable too, no Strong Black Woman nonsense here.
But most of all you’ll need to think about if this would be a story your readers would like to read. Ask yourself: is this representation Black women are looking forward to reading?
~ Mod Alice