Thursday, April 11, 2013

Writing diverse characters in Literature, Should it be a shared responsiblity amongst Authors?

This topic came to me when i was commenting on an online friends post on Goodreads. The topic just really spoke to me because she mentioned reading a book by a black author but was upset that the author featured little or no black characters. 

It made me ask myself, As a minority , is it my responsibility as a Afro-latina author to write and feature a diverse set of characters in my arsenal of books?

 Should all authors of color share this responsibility?

I came to the conclusion that there is no wrong or right answer.

Why?Because this is only going to be a topic that comes up when talking about authors of color. White authors seem to have the freedom to write what they would like to see. If they have problems working in characters of color in fear of making them stereotypical, they'll just write them out completely and can still make their stories work. But for authors of color it's much harder because when we write what we know, it can often be seen as not relatable to a caucasian standpoint. That's not to say that there aren't different ways to write people of color, but in cases with people that i know, some caucasian readers have a hard time believing that a black or latino person can be raised in the suburbs or talk with proper english. 

I once read a review for a book i recently bought and the reviewer commented on the unrealistic voice of the main protagonists' black girlfriend(He was white). She stated that she could have just been written white because she didn't really talk like a black girl?????? I keep reading it back to myself because in this day and age I couldn't believe someone would write something so ignorant. There is no way to "talk like a black girl". But apparently this is how someone readers distinguish white characters from black characters, by just speech alone.

In my personal case, I think it's the easiest thing in the world to write for minority characters. For one, I'm a minority person and Two, i want to see more people that look like me in books. I feel like it's my responsibility to share with the world an outlook on my experiences and my culture; and with a lot of research other people's experiences and other people's cultures. I believe some authors want to believe that writing a book with a colorful palette of minorities in unrealistic.Maybe because we live in a country that is dominated by Caucasian standards, So it's easy to cast your excellent idea out the window because you have Adam Rodriguez from CSI in your head as your leading man or Harry Shum Jr from Glee as your Black leading lady's main desire. But how will it change if we don't tackle the problem and make a conscience decision to write more and more books with people who look like us?

To direct back to the main idea of my topic, Should writing diverse characters in literature be a shared responsibility? Maybe it shouldn't, Maybe it should but I'm a person who strongly feels like the world through my eyes as well as another person's eyes are just as interesting and just as important as seeing the world through caucasian eyes.I hope that one day everyone will see that and this conversation that i had in 2013 will seem like a thing in the past.


Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving awesome comments!We appreciate and reply to everyone!