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.
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.
“Black lives matter. Latinx lives matter. Trans lives matter. Native lives matter. Disabled lives matter. Muslim lives matter. ” “Donald Trump: Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay” “We stand with Standing Rock” “Gay rights are human rights” “Refugees are welcome here” “Her body, her choice” “Global warming’s fucking real”
This is some dialogue from tonight’s NYC rally that spanned for dozens of blocks up until Trump Tower. Tonight I witnessed a mass of determined young people from different races, genders and backgrounds unify and stand up for each other. We are fighting for a future that is selfless and inclusive, and everything Trump’s regime is against.
DOODA ŁEETSOH! NO TO URANIUM! This picture was taken in Cameron, AZ, where there are numerous abandoned uranium mines. Over the whole of the Navajo reservation, there is a conservative estimate of over 500 abandoned uranium mines that are in existence that continue to impact the health and well-being of various communities. Many of these mines that emit high dosages of radiation are within a quarter of a mile of inhabitants on the reservation. No to environmental racism, no to desecration of sacred lands, keep it in the ground!
This entire thread by @sydnerain on twitter is SO IMPORTANT but here are some particularly important points to consider. The women’s march provided so many opportunities for women to listen to each other, to listen to women of colour and to see why intersectionality is important. This isn’t the beginning of the protest for some of us.