black people in fantasy

strangeauthor  asked:

we draggin tv tropes? good! lets also mention how they'll talk about how ~unrealistic~ it is to have black people (or just people of color in general) in a fantasy medieval setting BUT somehow its totally fine to have white folks with black hairstyles in said settings and anyone who complains is "fandumb" (aka black vikings page lol)

i love the black vikings page bc they pointed out that black vikings actually existed and had a real life section for a while 


All of you are so strong, you are.
I suppose I ought to work a tad harder if I’m going to keep up now.

This just in.  We have now taken a break from posturing over “racist Americans” to complain about black people being portrayed as fictional Italians. Not the other non-white members of the cast who aren’t black, no just the black people.   You know, we never actually fight to represent black Italians and have a terrible reputation on how we treat black people in general, but this backlash is totally in good faith.  It is totally racebending, which only works in America because there’s such a booming black population that’s respected and represented and…oh wait, there isn’t any of that.  We could go back to watching the majority of all media (in Italy OR America, even though the show isn’t filmed in Italy and wasn’t formed for an Italian audience) where white people are the majority and all Italian representation has pretty much been white (no matter what the ethnicity of the actor actually is)  We won’t complain about white Italians taking roles from PoC but we take issue with colorblind casting for a Shakespeare play because the very implication that we have *black people* in our culture would be culturally insensitive.  . 

 Black people weren’t invented till the 1960s.  You can’t adapt Shakespearean works with black people in the main cast unless they’re servants or something because black people didn’t exist in fictionalized Verona.  Clearly adapting it with white people is fine though, no matter where they come from.  Black Italians don’t exist and have never existed, we’re all light skinned until its time to justify whitewashing.  And even though this is a fictionalized story written by someone who has never lived in Italy and was never meant to be historically accurate, we now must all be armchair historians because black people are on screen.  Oh, apparently Othello was a white man all along. And don’t bring up those prominent black and mixed race Italians (because accuracy is only accurate if its supporting racism), because they don’t count anyways and just because we had black Italians doesn’t mean we had black Italians (logic!).   Please don’t steal this *valuable* representation from people who never once cared about Shakespeare as representation of any ethnic group *any* other time. 

Oh this isn’t backlash against a show showing black people in prominent positions in a European fantasy, no its totally about historical accuracy (where we erase most of actual history because that’s the only way we can pretend there were were no black people where black people were…) 

Its just culturally insensitive to cast black people in Still Star-Crossed

Pregnant Jewish Teen kicked out, and Angels of Color = Cultural Erasure?

Hi! I have two questions to ask.

I’m writing a book in which two teenage girls live in a small fictional town in Alabama.  The main character is a white protestant queer girl. Her best friend is a conservative jewish girl (still figuring out her sexuality) named Dalia. Dalia and her parents are the only jewish people in the town, and they commute to their synagogue (its mentioned that they have more family in Birmingham). 

The book establishes that Dalia is essentially the best person in the whole town, meaning she is more patient, kind, less corrupt than anyone else.  She does have flaws of course, she fears being a burden and tends to be a little impulsive. Anyway, Dalia’s dad is Ashkenazi and i was thinking her mom is Sephardi from Turkey, and immigrated to America earlier in her life.  

Dalia does get pregnant at 17, and hides the pregnancy for a little while. She does know exactly who the father is (a teenage boy who isn’t in the story) and when it is revealed that she is pregnant her parents are very angry, and kick her out of the house (i also planned for one of her parents to hit her in the face, but i dont have to write that). Dalia does intend to go live with her relatives in Birmingham, who are aware of her pregnancy and are fine with it, but ends up not going because of plot events. 

There is also an Angel who takes a male form, but really has no concept of gender.  I know i dont want him to be white because of the white=pure=holy connotation of that. The problem is he’d be completely separate from any culture of the race he’d be presenting, because he’s an angel and is simply using a random corporeal form.  

So, is Dalia’s situation with her parents in anyway coming off as anti semitic/painting immigrants as being backwards and inherently sexist/abusive?

And, is someone adopting a form with an ethnicity but being totally disconnected from any connecting culture racist? 

Wait, you’re writing a story where a Jewish mom and dad kick out their teenage daughter for being pregnant? That strikes me as a little… “look over here at this marginalized culture! don’t they treat their young girls badly?” I mean, I’m sure getting kicked out for a teen pregnancy has happened to someone Jewish somewhere but I haven’t seen it, personally. 

Could they maybe be overprotective instead? Stop letting her go out with her friends, refuse to give her any freedom? That would do away with the “where did this author even GET this” in my head, although it would still paint us as More Backward. 

If you’re not Jewish yourself this becomes even more awkward.


>> is someone adopting a form with an ethnicity but being totally disconnected from any connecting culture racist? 

Well, these are non-human beings that just look like humans, right? I’d assume angels have their own culture of sorts and it’s not necessarily erasure when it’s a being that isn’t even from earth. We’ve talked extensively on disconnecting PoC from their cultures and the erasure that is, but having a non-human being that simply appears as a Person of Color so doesn’t have the associated culture(s) is alright with me personally and is not the same. 

Now, if they switched between races at leisure that would feel like dress-up and is a whole different story. Also, please assure they’re not being a certain race because they just think it’s cool or interesting (see: Androids, Black Culture & Appropriation).

But if pale and white angels don’t need a reason for existing, why do Black and brown angels need one? It helps to also have human PoC of the same coded race in Angels who do have (human) cultures, though.

Here’s a discussion Shira and I also happened to write on how to differentiate species from similar-looking human ones. See: Differentiating Black-skinned Species from Black people.

–Mod Colette

Someone complained about there being too many black people in the Beauty and the Beast remake. They complained about historical accuracy.

You do realize there were no princes who got turned into monsters during that period of France right? You can’t complain about black people existing in a fantasy film and even if it were a historical film, black people have existed forever.

I swear to fucking god.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Confederate, the upcoming project by the creators of game of thrones. I’m not alone in actively hating the idea for this, but it took me a while to figure out why the idea for this show bothers me so much. Part of it is the current political climate, part of it is the idea being not nearly as new or interesting as the creators think it is (sci fi and fantasy is full of stories about chattel slavery in more modern/technologically advanced societies), and part of it is just me not trusting these two guys with this kind of story. 

But what it really comes down to for me is this: even if I could buy that the south won the war, I do not buy that black people, in a majority black country, would be content to live in the only slave-holding society in the world for another 150 years. And the fact that the creators of this show can imagine that says a lot about how they feel about black people and their agency.

Like to put that idea in perspective, black people waged a successful national campaign to end jim crow in a majority white country and it didn’t take them 150 years. Haiti rebelled in 1804, and while we can talk current economic conditions (and how frace is primarily to blame for that), what you can’t say is that chattel slavery exists there now. Like what world are you living in where black people aren’t resourceful, smart or motivated enough to end chattel slavery 150 years after the entire world decided that maybe chattel slavery was doing too much. 

The entire premise doesn’t work as alternative history because its not an alternate world, its a complete fantasy - a fantasy where black people are not only subjugated but incapable of taking steps to end that subjugation. And that leads to all the “who is this for” and “why would you do this” questions that smarter people than me have talked a lot about. 

Things writers need to STOP doing:
  • “Olive toned skin” BITCH IS SHE FUCKING GREEN?! Olive toned skin is just an excuse for readers to praise the author for including PoC, but when the character is white washed in the movie, the author can say “oh well, olive toned can mean white” (@ Suzanne Collins)
  • Writing high fantasy books where all the characters are white, even though the human default is to be black. Humanity originated with black people so why the fuck would you not have high fantasy be about black people? That doesn’t make sense. 
  • Saying someone has thin eyes or “slits” for eyes when you mean to say that they’re Asian. Just fucking say that they’re Asian. Don’t sit here and act like the defining feature for Asian people is their eyes. Do you know how fucking racist that is?
  • Having the heroine of the story almost get raped and then having the hero of the story show up to save her. AND THEN NEVER BRINGING IT UP AGAIN. Did you know that there are other ways to show male characters being heroic and chivalrous than using rape as a plot device? 
  • Post-apocalyptic America. This is the future of one of the most racially diverse countries in the world. But 99% of the people are white. 
  • Making mixed race characters have light/pale skin so that your readers can think it’s okay to whitewash them. It’s even worse if you DEFEND the whitewashing (@ Mara Dyer fandom/Michelle Hodkin)
  • Racial ambiguity is fucking dumb as hell. It’s just an excuse for you to act like your book has PoC in it then when they’re whitewashed by fans or in the adaptation, you can act like it’s fine (this is the same principle as the olive toned skin bullshit). Just give your characters specific races. It’s not that hard. 
  • Killing off PoC just to make white characters sad (@ Sarah J. Maas - I’m still pissed about Sorscha and Nehemia)
  • Writing an Indonesian character and then defending BOTH casting choices when the actor is not Indonesian EITHER TIME because you think all Asians look alike (@ She Who Must Not Be Named)
  • Writing gay characters and having all of their characterization be about them being gay/coming out. 
  • Writing PoC and having them all be half-white because apparently you’re only valid as a character if you’re part white. 
  • The girly girl being a total bitch because she’s blonde, hot, and rich? Just because the popular girls didn’t like you when you were in high school doesn’t mean that every girl who fits that stereotype is automatically evil.
  • Male love interests who stalk/abuse the heroines? What kind of message are you sending to young readers when you say “if he’s cute, it’s okay if he stalks/abuses you”? 
  • Boys fighting over girls? When was the last time you actually saw two boys fighting over a girl? 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. 

clypso  asked:

First off, thank you for all your hard work. I was wondering if you and/or your followers had any opinions on presenting orcs as black in (urban) fantasy? From what I gather (as a white person), the problem is more the Primitive Savage Trope rather than orcs being POC. If orcs were given a culture and orc characters actual development and personalities, would there be a problem in them having (specifically) black appearance traits? (There would also be orcs with white features as well.) Thanks!

Portraying Orcs as Black People (Please Avoid)

Nooooo no no no no, don’t go there. 

No matter how much you reinvent Orcs, they will ALWAYS be connected to Tolkien’s and all the others where they are ugly, brutish, savages, etc. Just the mere thought of it makes me VERY uneasy. This reminds me of that Warcraft movie (which wasn’t bad but) they tried to give more depth to the Orcs, who were coded as Black, but they were still an antagonist and used “dark magics”. 

When there are literally authors out there who write Black people the way fantasy authors write their classical Orc species, this will never work out as well as you mean it to. 

~ Mod Alice

Still Star-Crossed was cancelled ( mainly due to bad advertising) and then you have the people who can’t get over their prejudices. People were so upset and INTIMIDATED by a black woman with darker skin tone being desired, indepedent, emotional, and treated with significance [in other words like a 3d person] to the point Italians™ [I originally wrote fake Italians but an Italian user informed they want to claim their racism] on tumblr said Rosaline, Escalus, and Livia existence in the show was “cultural appropriation” and erasure of Italians. A universe where its namesake city was never visited by the creator, the universe that was created by an Englishman, a cast with the majority (the majority being white) wasn’t italian either, and not to mention the blatant ignorance of African presence within nobility all over Europe, and erasure of Afro-Europeans today. (Read a fucking book)

People (especially on tumblr) always want to see diversity, but when a female and male don’t pass the paper bag test and are given significant roles it becomes a problem, because it challenges your implicit biases, the standard of fantasy, and representation of black people. The sad thing is the plot was actually good.

*I focused on Rosaline because SHE and the actress was the main target, black males are usually ignored or demonized - which was impossible with Escalus character.

Rare Horse Colors

So you’re writing a fantasy novel geared toward teenage girls and you need a fantasy horse. Welp, it can’t just be a chestnut or bay horse cuz this girl is special, probably the chosen one. And the Chosen One needs a whacky colored horse. But because you are forever the most anal writer, you want to make sure that the color is actually realistic, because horse color matters as long as your fantasy world doesn’t have black people, because that would be too unrealistic /sarcasm.

Anyway, here are some not-so-often-seen horse colors:

Champagne (they usually have light-colored hazel eyes, which is unusual; most horses either have blue or dark brown eyes)



Chocolate Palomino

Silver Dapple

Blue Roan

Red Roan

There are no “albino” horses. There are gray horses and extreme variations of cremellos and paint horses that appear white, but there is not a truly “white” horse with red eyes and pink skin. Most gray horses have black skin (which means dark flesh around the nose and eyes), but a select few do have pink skin and look kinda weird:

So anyway, no to albino horses. They don’t exist.

like all of you Feminissmsmts and White Allies literally just wanna say you experienced and lived through a second civil rights area, where you didn’t fight for the rights of others, you want a pile up of dead black bodies to say you stood tall over while chaos happened around you, you wish literal fucking nazis on black people just to say you stood by and watched a war outside your window and how troubling it was for you, you’re fucking disgusting, the fact that you view my life as a footnote in your story of Spineless White Activism is disgusting, white people are so fucking eager to yell and scream just to spark a fire for no fucking reason, this isn’t a game, nazis aren’t playing games, they want to kill me, fucking wishing them into my presence to sick me and whatever other black people on them like attack dogs is disgusting, having this weird fucking fantasy of seeing black people, because it’s always fucking black people, clean up your messes in the most dangerous ways is disgusting

pomrania  asked:

I want to make sure this idea isn't inherently horribly offensive, before I invest time into it: people getting superpowers from how "othered" and "I don't belong" they feel (from race, orientation, disability, etc). The powers themselves are not determined by the "otherness", only the strength of the power. Any character who finds a "home", no longer has superpowers (but they have people who love and accept them).

Powers Gained from being Oppressed

Matilda works like this – the original book, not the movie – except it’s not about oppression, it’s about abusive and neglectful parents. They don’t let her read at her reading level (she’s six but she’s smart enough to be in the sixth grade) so she winds up telekinetic. Once she’s moved into the proper grade level at the end she stops being telekinetic.

I don’t know how I feel about applying that towards pain from bigotry. It sounds like it could be a “satisfying” idea to write (like, your hatred only makes me stronger! you can’t tie me down) but at the same time it puts a positive spin on something there really isn’t any positive to. Like, in real life, I can’t fly because of homophobia. I don’t get any benefits because of homophobia. It is a 100% negative.

But I could also see someone wanting to write out their own pain this way. Like “ha! you wouldn’t let me in the right bathroom? Well, I can now poop money.” So I don’t want to tell another oppressed person how to cathartically deal with their own pain.

-Mod Shira

It depends on who writes it and how it’ll be written. At first read this felt as if your characters’ struggle was somehow fodder for your story and that we’d be enjoying some sort of struggle story while they would be punished for finally getting a better life (as they lose their powers). 

But Shira made some excellent points in that it can be a way to process and deal with your own struggles. That you can find the strength to get through all the horrible things life throws at you and that in the end you find a different kind of strength. Something like that. From such a perspective I feel like something very beautiful could be written which could be very empowering even, but it needs to be written by the right person and it takes a lot of care and research to know what to do and what to leave out. 

So my advice to you is to write this close to home. To give it a personal touch so it can be authentic. You can still write characters who experience struggles unlike your own, but you’ll definitely need good beta-readers to help you crop out the problematic parts and show you where you might have strayed too far. With this I mean to not write other people’s stories or what it’s like to experience life as an identity you don’t share (random example: like adding in a Black character, but not to write about what it’s like to be Black in present day America, etc. if you as a writer are not Black yourself).

~ Mod Alice