I'm planning on writing a book, and the main character's girlfriend is a vampire and black. She's very dark skinned, so she can spend a moderate amount of time in the sunlight without any ill effects. The idea behind it is sunlight does affect vampires negatively, but white vampires can only spend a very limited because they don't have the melanin to protect them. I'm wondering if this is racist or sort of hokey. Thanks for any feedback :)
Black (Dark-Skinned) Vampire and More Protection from Sun over White (Pale) Vampires
I think this is adorable and hilarious because most of our vampiric folklore comes from Europe and this is a very refreshing take on the black vampire.
[Refrains from making Wesley Snipes/Blade jokes]
Removing the vampire aspect, i’d like to mention the idea that Black people cannot get hurt by the sun is misinformed and can lean into strong, black, and invincible stereotypes. I was even told growing up “oh, we [black people] dont need sunscreen” because our dark skin protects us; fact is while we may not as easily burn, we still need to use sunscreen. The sun can still harm us, especially how it is today. Kerry Washington even has a whole campaign to remind Black people that yes, we do need sunscreen to protect us from the sun.
And not so fun fact; despite skin cancer not being as common in Black people, our survival rate from it is lower compared to whites (75% to 95%).
On another note, historically, I don’t believe the vampire’s stereotypically pale skin is the main factor in why they can’t get sunlight. I may be wrong, though.
I always figured the pale skin resulted from the vampire having to avoid sunlight, not the other way around, and that the sunlight-avoiding was symbolic of them being associated with death and night and creepy things because regular humans (who don’t work third shift) are usually awake and active in the daytime.
Octavia Butler’s Fledgling is about a Black vampire.
SPOILERS but important:
[She was genetically manipulated to have a vampire not be as sensitive to the sun, since all the vampires were white and died almost instantly in sunlight. Sunlight still burns her, but more in matters of minutes instead of seconds. She also handled the racism popping up, but sadly enough, I don’t remember handling the experimenting part]
I think it’s a good idea to not just do the “dark skin = absolute protection from sunburn” thing since I agree that it’s a global myth that’s causing people to ignore skin cancer and such in darker-skinned people.
I think (not sure) the pale skin originated with vampires being dead. The pointy teeth is because when they’d dig up the dead their gums would have retracted in death and so their teeth seemed longer. The not being able to tolerate sunlight was added on later via popular fiction.
There’s also other sources that discuss different origins (such as being cursed by Apollo to burn when under sunlight).
Not to mention part of the reason skin has, y'know, colour, is blood. Funeral homes go to great lengths to cover bodies in makeup so they don’t look like actual corpses. But when you see a real body that’s been dead for long enough the blood settles… the colours get a little unnatural. (I watch a lot of forensic shows okay)
Even somebody Black would get paler, just because they suddenly don’t have deep red under their skin.
In the tabletop role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade most of the vampires get paler the older they get as a symbolic show of their losing grip on humanity. However others rot literally, or carry their wounds that never heal so over time they look freakish…. and bizarrely the Assamites or Turkish vampires turn darker the older they get. I think that the myths they were based on had dark skin and basically the whole reason why any of the different types of vampires’ appearances change over time is to reflect that disconnect with humanity.