i did it.

airagorncharda  asked:

I'm writing/drawing a beauty & the beast retelling set in a fantasy world where the architecture/clothes/food are meant to resemble those from India. The royal family are also meant to be Indian. The beast is a princess, transformed by a sorcerer into a dragon/tiger creature. Beauty is a black woman named Gorgeous. Both characters & their families are depicted in a positive light. The beast hires Gorgeous as a gardener (doesn't force her). Is there anything obvious I should avoid/change?

Indian + Black: Beauty and the Beast Retelling

Even with the “doesn’t force her”, this ties strongly into the “happy servant” trope that Black people were expected to put up with (to the point not smiling at white people was considered an act of rebelling and very dangerous).

-Mod Lesya

Coming into this knowing how rampant the colorism in Indian society is and knowing about how difficult a time Black people can have there is making me see all the ways this could go wrong, optically.

This seems to be a graphic novel or comic of some kind so one way I can see possibly mitigating this is to have the royal family, if there’s any depiction of their skin color, be very dark skinned as well.  That way, you at least don’t have a light-skinned-royal/dark-skinned-servant dichotomy, and since Indian skin tones run the complete gamut there are plenty of people who are about as dark skinned as many sub-Saharan Africans so it wouldn’t be unrealistic at all.  Plus there are established communities of African descent in South Asia as well (e.g. Siddi people) so the Gorgeous character could be from a fantasy version of such a community.

Also, I get it’s fantasy but “Gorgeous” as a name in pseudo-India?  Kinda weird; at least in the Disney version “Belle” is a legit French word.  Call her Sundari or something, maybe?

Maybe having a Black character in another, more commanding role, could also help as well.  During the Mughal period, a number of people from the aforementioned African communities attained positions of some power, as generals, chatelains, and political advisors (e.g.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malik_Ambar).  I can easily see how one such character could be worked in here.

-Mod Nikhil