SLYTHERIN: “I am not evil, despite the name. I may not be a hero either, but I am a leader. And leaders do what’s necessary.” –Jerome Schwartz + Leah Fong (The Evil Queen: Once Upon a Time: I’ll Be Your Mirror)
1/2 Hello! I'm writing a sort of fantasy story/series, and the (white) main character is Fae, which is a species of kinda ethereal non-humans. There's a subplot and a lot of little anecdotes about the prejudice she and her father face in mostly human London for being visibly fae. But of course, what my main character experiences may seem a lot like racism, but it isn't - especially because the Fae are literally not people, and feel compassion and emotions in entirely different ways, and are
simply not human, and a lot of the prejudice they encounter is based around that. How do I avoid drawing analogies which suggest that PoC are less human?Secondly, there are dwarves in this fantasy series. A family of dwarves who are quite prominent in the story are Black (originally Djerban, I think) and Jewish. I know that a lot of dwarf tropes in fantasy stem from stereotypes of Jewish people, and I’d like to know how to make sure I don’t stray into those tropes. Thank you for your help!
White-coded Fae + North African Jewish-coded Dwarves
I’d love for you to trace the thought process that led your imagination to come up with a plot where the “pretty” supernatural characters are coded white (and gentile) and the, well, less-pretty supernatural characters are coded as North African Jews.
The Rabbi’s Cat is by a Jewish author. I just wanted to put that image in your mind for a second.
“How do I avoid drawing analogies which suggest that PoC are less human?”
Human characters of color are the best way to establish that your Fae really are something else and not a metaphor for PoC. in my opinion.
>> A family of dwarves who are quite prominent in the story are Black (originally Djerban, I think) and Jewish. I know that a lot of dwarf tropes in fantasy stem from stereotypes of Jewish people, and I’d like to know how to make sure I don’t stray into those tropes.
Why are they Jewish in the first place, then? A piece without Jewish human characters doesn’t really need Jewish dwarves, especially if there aren’t gentile dwarves alongside them. Caveat that if you’re writing from inside the community I have less of a problem with it because this is our nonsense to reclaim if we want.
So, your options if you don’t want to have people go “….why….” are:
Add Jewish humans alongside the Jewish dwarves (or, alternatively, Jewish fae, we never get to be fae… we never get to be anything beautiful like mermaids or fairies or whatever. Dwarves. Lovely. *sobs into knitting project*)
Make the dwarves not Jewish – is there a plot reason they need to be Jewish?
The “dwarf=Jew” trope comes from these stereotypes:
clannish/unfriendly to outsiders without ever bothering to justify, oh, why a marginalized group might do that
avaricious/super into treasure and riches
And possibly a little harder to pick apart, but a weird smoothie of antisemitism/misogyny/transphobia in which our women are supposedly too hairy and too loud to be feminine (which is double bull because women can be as hairy as they want and still be feminine, and nothing’s wrong with being a masculine woman, either.)
So those are the specific tropes you’d want to avoid. But I’d say if you’re gentile, writing Jewish dwarves into a story that doesn’t have any non-dwarf Jews just seems like giving yourself a lot of extra work trying to stay out of the Sarlacc’s mouth. Ya know?