native american racism

Stereotyped vs Nuanced Characters and Audience Perception

Writing with color receives many questions regarding the stereotypes Characters of Color and their story lines may possess.

There’s a difference between having a three-dimensional character with trait variance and flaws, versus one who walks the footsteps of a role people of their race/ethnicity are constantly put into. Let’s discuss this, as well as how sometimes, while there’s not much issue with the character, a biased audience will not allow the character to be dimensional.

But first: it’s crucial to consider the thinking behind your literary decisions.

Trace your Logic 

When it comes to the roles and traits you assign your characters, it’s important to ask yourself why you made them the way they are. This is especially true for your marginalized characters.

So you need an intimidating, scary character. What does intimidating look like on first brainstorm? Is it a Black man, large in size or presence? (aka a Scary Black Man) A Latino with trouble with the law? If so, why?

Really dig, even as it gets uncomfortable. You’ll likely find you’re conditioned to think of certain people in certain roles on the spot.

It’s a vicious cycle; we see a group of people represented a certain way in media, and in our own works depict them in the way we know. Whether you consciously believe it’s the truest depiction of them all or not, we’re conditioned to select them for these roles again and again. Actors of Color report on being told in auditions they’re not performing stereotypical enough and have been encouraged to act more “ethnic.” 

This ugly merry-go-round scarcely applies to (cis, straight) white people as they are allowed a multitude of roles in media. Well, then again, I do notice a funny trend of using white characters when stories need a leader, a hero, royalty, a love interest…

Today’s the day to break free from this preconditioned role-assigning.

Keep reading

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Racism against Native Americans has reached a new tipping point

While Native American protesters were being pepper-sprayed, shot with beanbags and arrested en masse by law enforcement in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on Thursday, the Cleveland Indians were wrapping up Game 3 of the World Series; emblazoned on their hats was the franchise’s racist mascot — Chief Wahoo.

Over Halloween weekend, as protesters were recouping and taking stock of their diminished numbers, photos went public of Jason Walsh — the white boyfriend of actress Hillary Duff — wearing a feathered headdress, red face paint and a fringed leather tunic at a costume party in Beverly Hills.

These are just two of the many ways Native Americans and their cultures have been co-opted, caricatured and ridiculed at sports stadiums and Halloween celebrations across the country of late. It’s not a new pattern — but these incidents take on renewed irony amid the largest Native-led protests the United States has seen in decades. READ MORE

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Although they are presented as harmless, goofy explorations of inane historical side-notes, cable TV specials such as Ancient Aliens and The Lost History of Ancient America normalise expressions of racist intellectual attitudes towards native peoples.

Their basic premise remains: ‘These primitive brown people couldn’t possibly have contributed to our cultural history! It must have been [aliens / giants / prehistorical Europeans]’. Indigenous peoples in North America, Latin America and Africa were practical metallurgists, experimental chemists, civil engineers and urban planners - restoring native peoples to their factual place in human developmental history reveals a dazzlingly beautiful archaeological narrative which throws grubby crypto-fascist conspiracy loons into the shade. 

Busting these absurd, revisionist ahistories is an anti-racist duty.

Adopted Native, Happier Connected with his Roots

@sire-aie asked:

my MC is half native half white.he is not close to his culture+background because his native parent doesn’t not live with him.where he lives it is also considered by others shameful to be native because of political reasons.he later on meets a group of natives and starts to become more spiritual and happy w/ himself. is it bad to make him happy only when he starts to learn more about his heritage? is it cliche? he also starts to grow his hair at this time to feel more connected to his heritage.

Alright so. I’m going to remind everyone that if you’re going to send in a question, pick a tribe. But this question in particular is hitting a note with Indigenous cultural experience that I feel very, very necessary to address.

Forced seizure and adoption of Native individuals is a very real part of being Native. A Cree elder I spoke to is a lawyer who specializes in stopping these seizures. One particularly memorable reason she had to stop a child being taken from an “unfit parent” was the parent didn’t have laundry on site. That’s just one of many ridiculous examples that happened, and still happens to this day.

If you’re dealing with somebody mixed who doesn’t have his Native parent live with him, you’re potentially dealing with an unfair custody ruling and a whole whacking bunch of racism around the start of it. The assumption that he lives in an area where it’s shameful to be Native points to a massive lack of cultural sensitivity from the white parent, which is sadly extremely common.
As a result: it would be very much not cliche to have him be happier when he reconnects with his heritage. He’s going to stop learning to be ashamed of himself and start undoing the colonial legacy of the 60s Scoop and residential schools. He could always feel conflicted about what to pick, but starting to accept part of your racial identity is a good thing! It means your self hate goes down, it means you stop feeling like you can’t exist the way you are, it means you start to breathe.

I wouldn’t treat it as a completely magic pill— the amount of work that goes into not hating part of your identity is an incredible amount— but no, it is absolutely not cliche to have reconnection= an increase in happiness. 

Just please, please educate yourself on the reason Native kids are taken away from their cultures, and understand the white parent should be treated as not a very good person for putting their child through that. Because they aren’t. Teaching your child to be ashamed of their identity is abusive. While you haven’t mentioned the parent directly, that parent still moved to a place where there weren’t many other Natives and there was a cultural message of white as superior. Unless they advocated for the child’s identity, they’re an abuser, full stop.

~ Mod Lesya