Albinism & Genetics

marcierocksthedollhouse asked: About the magical albino trope. In my other story I have a character who is a biracial (half taiwanese half white) albino mermaid. Her mother lives in the deep dark oceans of Taiwan. Like most fish there, she is luminecient. My mergirl inherrited this trait from her mother. The glowing mermaids can learn to control over this ability. But mine is with her dad, never met her mother and lives in an area that’s not that dark. So she has no clue how. It’s closely tied to her emotions. Ergo, she’s basically a living mood ring. I decided to make her albino because the pale, translucient skin would mean the colors she glows would shine more brightly. Kinda like a clear lightbulb over a mutlicolored one. And I know that albinos are underrepresented, so really why not? The mother was not albino nor is the father. I’ve read that albinism is not genetic. All mermaids in my story have certain abilities over the sea and its creatures, her included. Would you say she falls in the trope? And if so how can I fix this?

As a person with albinism, I fear that you are only making your character albino for this translucent skin.

You’re ignoring the fact that many east asians are pale or that albinism is a serious genetic disorder that should be taken seriously and not used to add flare to your story. 

You should also do some research on albinism because you read wrong. It is very much so genetic. Neither of my parents, grandparents or great grandparents were albino, yet here I am. Recessive genes are a thing and I suggest you familiarize yourself with them.

People with albinism are underrepresented, but it’s better to not be represented at all than to be misrepresented.

~ Mod Brei

I would also suggest that you read Aliette de Bodard’s post on mixed-race people in SFF, since one point addresses how the whole ‘possessed of powers based on our non-white blood’ can be offensive to multiracial readers. I recommend the post in general to followers who want to write multiracial characters but don’t have that perspective, since de Bodard is multiracial herself and lays out the dos and don'ts nicely.

–mod Jess