The Danger of Political Correctness for Diverse Books
This is one of those posts that will probably get me in trouble, but I believe it’s an important conversation to have. I will attempt to avoid offending anyone, but that’s getting more difficult in our society (which is kind of my point). Wish me luck. *smile*
An online campaign on Tumblr and Twitter called #WeNeedDiverseBooks promotes the importance of books that portray characters of various orientations, cultures, nationalities, and abilities in children’s literature. Diverse books are important for adults too—not simply for the sake of diversity—but so that by sheer number of representations, any one type of character isn’t limited to a stereotype.
The truth is that we are all diverse. My life experience is not the same as any of you. And every one of you have different experiences from each other.
No one stereotypical character will ever represent us, no matter our color, nationality, abilities, or background. Yet stereotypes exist and will always exist.
That might sound like a depressing thought. We might think that if only we worked hard enough, shamed others enough, pushed enlightenment enough, that we might be able to avoid stereotypes.
The simple fact of the matter is that the human brain does not work that way. The human brain is lazy. *smile*
Categories Help Our Brains Process Information
Our senses bring in far more stimulation than we can process. How much do we pay attention to the color of our carpet in our home? We don’t. (Unless we hate it and are thinking of changing it.)
How much do we pay attention to the background noise of our refrigerator? We don’t. (Unless it’s making weird noises and we worry it’s about to break.)
How much do we pay attention to the weight of our clothes on our shoulders? We don’t. (Unless the fabric is scratchy and driving us crazy.)
Our brain ignores everything possible so it can function without being overwhelmed. Our brain constantly puts everything we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell into “ignore” or “this is different—pay attention” categories, and we only consciously notice the latter.
We put people we see or meet into categories too. We think young/old, male/female, tall/short, etc. We ask what people do for a living. We inquire whether we have friends, schools, neighborhoods in common.
This is not bad. This is normal and unavoidable.
In fact, brain research suggests that we can’t remember things unless we can “attach” that information to something we already know, like one of those magnetic sculpture desk toys except made of connected memories. Categories help us remember.
We will never be able to look at an unknown person and not have our brains seek to categorize them in some way. Because of that instinct to categorize, stereotypes—preformed branches for attaching similar new memories—will always exist.
The Danger of Political Correctness
Some might agree with me and then state that the problem comes when stereotypes are harmful. Great! But how do we define harmful?
Kristen Lamb wrote a MUST READ post about political correctness:
“These days, I find myself less prone to joke or make conversation with others of a different ethnicity or culture because, bluntly, it’s exhausting and I always seem to screw it up. I find myself hedging everything I say, backpedaling, and struggling to remember my proper and approved PC vocabulary.
We walk on eggshells to avoid “offending” someone. We no longer can make mistakes. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”
I’ve seen people say the phrase “Oh, that’s so lame” is offensive to those who can’t walk. And then I’ve seen even more people—all of whom really can’t walk—say “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just a phrase, not offensive.”
Multiply that by the hundreds or thousands of potentially problematic words or phrases, and we don’t know who to listen to or what to think.
- Should we follow the lead of those actually with the experience (of which, as they are not a monolithic stereotype, might have differing opinions)?
- Or should we avoid attracting attention from those without the experience, but who wait, all-too-eager, to call us out on some infraction like the thought police?
We can have the best intentions in the world and still screw up. Quite frankly, political correctness has too many rules, and no one will ever be able to remember them all, especially when various interested parties can’t even agree on whether there should be a rule about something. Being unaware of all of the rules, or being unable to keep them straight, shouldn’t earn us an *-ist label or prove that we’re “insensitive.”
Most people don’t mean to be insensitive or offensive. Yet the default response seems to be to attack or judge rather than to inform or give the benefit of the doubt.
As Kristen said, constantly walking on eggshells and fearing saying the wrong thing is nerve-racking. The result is that we’re less likely to relate with others of a different culture or ethnicity. That it seems easier to avoid others than it is to avoid making a mistake.
That avoidance of diversity out of fear is the real danger.
Stereotypes are most harmful when they prevent us from making new friends or being open to new ideas. That goes for people and books.
The Danger for Diverse Books
My friend Roni Loren wrote an insightful post about whether authors are scared to write diverse books. The (understandable) answer for too many is “Heck yeah, it’s too risky.”
In an in-person encounter, we could at least apologize or try to explain our intentions. In a book, we can’t even do that. If we get something “wrong”—which as I noted above, is nearly unavoidable—we’re going to offend someone and not be able to “take our words back.”
The result? If authors don’t want to take the risk, we’ll have fewer diverse books on the shelves.
Worse, those limited numbers will mean each book with a such-and-such type of character will seem more important or be more notable. Any stereotypical aspects will stand out more, rather than being drowned out by a flood of other representations of such-and-such type of character.
Fear of being judged “wrong” in the eyes of political correctness can make us more insulated—from both a variety of people and ideas. That is harmful for all of us.
Should We Write about Experiences We Don’t Share?
Some might think it a good thing if authors aren’t willing to take those risks with unfamiliar scenarios. They might think diverse books should come only from those with the appropriate experiences. While I understand the frustration when authors “get things wrong,” I disagree with that idea in general.
I’ve been to book signings where authors are giving away free books, and the lines for the non-white authors are almost always the shortest. We all “discriminate” in our book reading. (“I don’t like that genre.” “I don’t like stories with that trope.”) Subconsciously, even though they’re not racist, the attendees see those authors and categorize their books as something they couldn’t relate to.
Would we rather that insulation of people and ideas continue? Or would we rather prod people to broaden their experiences?
If it takes reading a diverse book from a white-bread author to show people that, yes, they can relate to stories with diverse protagonists, I say bring on the diverse books from any author who wants to take on the challenge.
Roni’s post shares several tips on how to do our best to “get it right,” starting with not having “a ‘default’ that everyone who walks onto the page is white, straight, and middle-class until proven otherwise.” I hope any author who tries to show diversity in an honest, non-stereotype-driven way is welcomed.
My Choice for Diversity
As I said at the start of this post, I believe we are all diverse because we all have experiences that no one else shares. We need diverse books because they help us explore and discover various beliefs, values, and experiences—and through that exposure, we’ll learn more about ourselves and how we can relate to others, no matter our various backgrounds.
No one looking at the color of my skin would guess that I grew up as a minority in my school (the only white girl for much of elementary). The stereotypical “white” experience doesn’t apply to me any more than the stereotype of xyz ethnicity applies to any real person. The same can be said for our characters.
Heck, I write paranormal. Some of my characters are dragons, unicorns, faeries, and the like. Am I not supposed to write those characters because I haven’t experienced what it’s like to be them? *grin*
Am I not supposed to write from my heroes’ point of view because I’m not male? That’s not how my genre works. We’re supposed to be able to use our imagination to write fiction.
I write those characters with the attitude of being true to the characters. I use the same criteria when writing my human characters, whether white, black, Asian-American, Native American, gay, straight, etc.
I write books with diverse characters and don’t worry about trying to capture everything “right” because I’m not writing about any such-and-such type of person. I’m writing about a specific character, and as long as I’ve stayed true to their specific experience, I’m avoiding stereotypes.
Will I receive negative reviews for my choices? Undoubtedly. My xyz character won’t be xyz enough. Or maybe they’ll be too xyz. Or I didn’t do a good job of capturing the xyz experience because I didn’t touch on abc.
Whatever. There’s no such thing as a universal xyz experience, so I’m not going to worry about it.
I’m writing my characters’ experiences, and while I would never knowingly write anything offensive, I’m most interested in staying true To. My. Characters. No one is going to like everything we write anyway, so worrying about whether someone might not like our characters because of diversity is a dead end.
We need to stand up to the fear of accidentally getting something politically incorrect. If we don’t, literature—and our lives—will become even more insulated from people and ideas different from our own. And that would be a real dead end.
Have you participated in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign? Do you worry about accidentally being politically incorrect? Have you ever written diverse characters? Do you plan to? Do you think political correctness can cause damage to our willingness to explore diverse friendships and characters?Pin It
I think you’re 100% right. I wrote a much briefer blog post on the topic last month because I found the whole campaign confusing. It seemed like people were pushing for diversity over quality. I want agents and publishers to select books that are good, regardless of whether or not they’re diverse. If they happen to be diverse, so much the better! But I’d hate for political correctness to heavily influence the publishing industry.
I do support diverse books, but I don’t want books judged solely on the basis of how well they got xyz experience “right” because as I said, there isn’t a universal xyz experience. I don’t want authors of any size, shape, or color afraid to write diverse books due to the fear of being judged as “doing it wrong.” That fear will lead to fewer diverse books, not more.
Along the lines of what you said, the storytelling quality should take precedence–for the “judgment” (if any is actually needed)–of whether the story is true to the character. For example, my black character isn’t of African ancestry and isn’t American, so I wasn’t going to go PC and call him African-American. His experience isn’t supposed to match the experiences of the African-American community, so it would be ridiculous to judge his character on whether he seems like a “real” African-American person. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
I go on tumblr; I have seen the most politically correct of the politically correct…The oversensitivity drives me crazy sometimes.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have a point.
This makes it sound like the mild inconvenience of possibly being accused of insensitivity is far worse than actually being racist, sexist, etc.
And the whole justifying categories based on brain processes thing comes off as an excuse for not even trying to make an effort. Like potentially perpetuating problematic stereotypes that hurt people is far less of a problem than bothering to put some thought into it.
Hi Sophia, I agree with you…to a point. Online accusations for many situations (not just political correctness) have gotten more destructive. Instead of merely informing or stating disagreements, I’ve seen people go into “I will destroy you” mode. I’ve seen witch-hunts erupt over differing ideas, where people get their friends involved to “bring someone down.” For authors, what we write is our career. If someone makes an accusation about us based on our writing, they can literally destroy our livelihood and our family’s income. And yes, I’ve seen it happen. That’s huge risk for authors to take. But we need authors to be willing to take that risk or else we’ll have fewer diverse books. That would go backward and go against everything we want to accomplish in society. So no, this isn’t about “mild inconvenience” or people not wanting to make an effort. I believe most people are making an effort, yet the response is to take offense anyway. I do everything I can to avoid offending anyone, but I’m sure it happens anyway because everyone’s line–everyone’s sensitivity–is someplace different. My explanation of brain categories was in no way an excuse for not trying to make an effort. And quite frankly, the fact that you interpreted my words that way proves my point: People can misinterpret us despite our best efforts. 🙂 However, what I meant was that our brains–even if we value all people equally–will still stumble when (for example) we meet a transgendered person. Our brains aren’t… — Read More »
We couldn’t please everyone even if we don’t raise the apparently terrifying specter of political correctness. Not every book will be for every reader, and that’s as it should be. It would be a pretty bland world otherwise.
I think it’s important to remember that people just wanted to be treated with respect, regardless of who they are or where they come from. And people want to see themselves represented in fiction, as human beings with real emotions, not as caricatures or symbols. Accomplishing this as a writer is challenging, but I think even more so when we come from a place of fear and entitlement, comparing our critics to “thought police” and likening being criticized to an attack on our freedoms akin to Nazism, and claiming our own experiences and outlook as universal to all. I’m not saying you’ve done or said any of this, but I’ve certainly seen it done and said, more than I’d care to.
I don’t think treating people respectfully and with humanity is as terrifying as people think. And it is true that the best intentions can go wrong, and that issues like these can be complex, but I think it really comes down to respect, context, and a willingness to learn. For that reason, I think it’s important that we challenge our own perspectives as frequently as possible, no matter who we are and where we come from.
Exactly! And that’s why I’ve decided not to worry about the fear. 🙂 I think it’s more important to increase the numbers of diverse books than to try to avoid the unavoidable fate of someone not liking our book.
I agree completely that the issue comes down to respect. And most people I know are willing to learn. Where I’ve seen the most problems are when the context leads to an assumption of a lack of respect, and that’s not necessarily the case.
Like you, I want my ideas challenged so I can ensure that I’m not making mistakes. And that’s exactly why we need more diverse books. But I’m afraid the fear of doing something wrong will hold us, as authors, back from the goal. And that’s not helping any of us, no matter what we think about political correctness. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Jami, I take take part in the movement the hash tag #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and did a video that I hope comes off as I mean it to: http://youtu.be/gBleB-Vr7EM One thing I’m glad you noted was that diversity is not limited to ethnicity, and while the #WeNeedDeverseBooks moments spawned because of a kerfuffle around ethnicity, there’s more to it. That said, I think I don’t think people on average that “lazy” in their thinking. I certainly understand why we compartmentalize and categorize to avoid overwhelm, but there’s a BIG difference between what you’re saying and just being willfully ignorant and snobbish. As I’ve said before, we don’t inherit EVERYTHING from our family, some things are just “My Stuff” be it bad or good. I grew up with smokers, but I never became a smoker, and while not everyone can resist temptation to experiment, not everyone submits to pressure in all instances either.” After all, when parents are alcoholics, that doesn’t instantly deem the kids will follow suit, whether they later drink as minors or after being legally old enough to do so. Now addiction is different than social ignorance, but you get my point. That said, you can learn to rise above your programming. Matilda and James (Of “Giant Peach” fame) sure did, wouldn’t you say?” (I still feel Dahl could’ve stood to have some adults in his books who weren’t abusive and still have kids come out on top, but that’s my only nitpick with him…) While I see truth in… — Read More »
Hi Taurean, Oh yes, I agree that there’s a big difference between lazy and ignorant or snobbish. One means that we’re willing to retrain our brain and one doesn’t. One means that we’re willing to ensure that all categories in our brain are seen as worthy of respect and one doesn’t. 🙂 As I mentioned, categories aren’t the problem. It’s the lack of respect (or even worse treatment) of certain categories that creates the problem. I think you’re spot on with how important adults are to this issue. For example, I wasn’t complaining about being a minority in my school, and I was never bullied by them. But I can understand how all of us, as adults, might have the “oh, how awful for you” reaction. Honestly (and this goes against all those who claim there’s no such thing as color-blindness, but that’s how kids are until they’re “taught” differently), I didn’t notice the racial difference until an adult pointed it out to me my last year at that school. To me, the kids in my school were my friends. Period. My best friend and I “competed” on being the smartest two in the class. Her family was much better off than mine, and her mom was a local celebrity. So as a child, my impression of African-Americans was: nice, friendly, smart, successful, role models, etc. I was devastated to learn from others (i.e., adults) that most didn’t have the same impression. (There’s a reason I noticed the line-differential at… — Read More »
Another fantastic post!
I haven’t participated in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Hadn’t heard about it, but I will be searching the hashtag now that you brought it to my attention.
I have seen, however, first hand, the line differences at book signings between black and white authors. Can’t stand that. Two of my critique partners and very favorite people in world are black. And we’ve discussed the differences in the number of books on the shelves with black models, or a black author on the back cover…there are much fewer of those out than there are white. My crit partners are excellent authors. I don’t want the color of their skin or that of their characters to keep them from being as successful as the next author, mainly because people might be closed minded enough to think they can’t relate..
I have written diverse characters…I’ve written homosexual characters (which I plan on adding to another novel, though they are not the love interest or main character, they still hold pivotal roles in the story) And I’ve written in African American characters as well…again, not as main characters.
Does that mean I’m racist? I don’t think so, but now that I’m discussing it here with you, I wonder…what does it mean? Why haven’t I branched out and written a black hero or heroine?
It’s definitely something worth thinking about.
Thank you so much for your wisdom and for having the courage to write this post. it was awesome!
Yes, I’ve worried about the cover of my black hero’s story being whitewashed. 🙁 I’d hate for that to happen, and I’m making plans for how to ensure it doesn’t.
As for myself, it’s not that I’ve tried to make diverse characters, and I certainly haven’t “guilted” myself into it. It’s just that, as Roni said, if we start our characters with a completely blank slate and not start with “default” assumptions, we’re more likely to hear diverse voices for our characters. 🙂
I’ve been rolling around ideas for my next story, and I couldn’t “hear” my heroine’s voice until I opened my thoughts to that blank slate idea. See if that helps! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
To add another dimension to this, the reason I’ve never written about my ethnic background was simply what I chose to focus on didn’t demand it. When I say that, I mean that my story wasn’t hinging on a (human) character’s nationality. I once thought the major human character in my debut novel might be white, but is actually a European immigrant. I only learned that when I realized that my debut, GABRIEL was the first of further stories in the story’s world. I know a lot of articles about series writing STRESS knowing key things before you even write the first book, but for some writers like myself, that isn’t always possible. Especially when you’re going on a book by book basis, what I think some writers forget sometimes is that series don’t “sell” if they either- A. Overstay their welcome. and B. Are too “By The Numbers.” There’s something to be said for growing a series organically. That said, there was one book I wrote years prior to Gabriel that I intended to be a series because I knew I couldn’t tell full story in only one book. More that later… While some readers may like to read the same thing over and over, I don’t, and I think the best series avoid that, especially if they’re limited series, meaning after the major arc ends, so does the series, or at least at that point in time. Tamera Pierce has her world of Tortall, and by writing about… — Read More »
Yes, as all my “be true to the character” advice attests, I’m very much into organic story development. 🙂 I don’t write stories ABOUT diversity. Rather, that’s just one element affecting the character and the story, just as much as any personality trait or job or character age or setting location, etc. can affect the character and the story.
And don’t worry, my “brain talk” wasn’t meant to imply that we’re unchanging or unable to find redemption. (My stories focus on change and redemption themes in fact. 🙂 ) Instead, I was merely talking about how the brain processes information by default, but as we learn and grow, we move the things we learn into new categories. The categories we put people or things in are NOT unchanging.
So our brain will always look to categorize things, but the labels or attitudes we hold for those categories can certainly change, and we can move information from one category to another quite easily. The general categorization PROCESS stays the same, but the specifics are very changeable. So all is not lost. 🙂
Well stated! This times 1000, highlighted, with blinky lights around it! 😀 Thanks for the comment!
Categories Help Our Brains Process Information *blinks* I want to research this, now. My memory actually functions in categories—well, I should say, it functions in categories when it works properly. I have some suppression issues. With reason. But…it’s still problematic, sometimes, because some people get ticked off when I have to process the answer through the categories, rather than give them the answer immediately. (A few of those “some people” are why I have memory suppression issues. But that’s kinda off-topic.) I also have an excellent memory for data, especially if numbers aren’t involved. (I tend to transpose numbers.) But I’m also a generalist who knows at least the basics on a ton of topics, so I have a broad spectrum of categories into which to parse data. Kinda sad thing I’ve realized this week is that I can often quickly spot manipulation and identify the type, but I have no mental categories for “drunk” or “intoxicated” or “drugged”. None. I know I’ve seen people drunk, or doped up on meds, and I’ve probably even seen people on drugs. At most, I might think, “She doesn’t need any more alcohol,” but my brain doesn’t jump to “She’s drunk.” Pretty much, someone else has to bring it up for the thought to even occur to me. I’ve grown up around alcohol, with people drinking enough to be affected, but everything was always described as “relaxed”—or, at worst, “tipsy”. Among my parents and their friends, “drunk” is often redefined to mean “have… — Read More »
Yes, ever since hearing about that brain theory, I can’t tell you how many times–when coming across something new–I’ve “heard” my brain think “Oh! That’s like such-and-such.” 🙂 And like you, I know a little about a lot of things, so my brain has oodles of categories. LOL!
And that goes back to my point that no matter our color, orientation, background, or abilities, everyone’s experience is going to be different. Our experiences create those categories, so my categories are unique to me.
As I said from the outset, we need diverse ideas to challenge us. And on some level, when people aren’t trying to be offensive, whether we get offended anyway or not is a choice. What people choose to be offended by is going to be unique as well, which is yet another reason why we can never avoid accidentally offending someone, no matter how much effort we put into the attempt.
The only way to avoid ever offending anyone is to avoid others (not to mention not writing for public consumption!). And that’s not healthy. 🙂
As authors, we have to write stories and characters and situations that make us uncomfortable all the time. We write antagonists who disrespect our protagonists and others. We write villains who kill, rape, etc. We write protagonists that aren’t perfect either. We have to allow the story–and the characters–lead us to where it needs to go. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
I actually just realized that one of my currently backburnered stories are kind of a case in point about diversity and stereotypes in a “writer oops” fashion.
It’s going to be a serial, see, and I’ve written the first episode. And I’ve set it up so, presumably, the guy’s going to like the girl. But the girl’s a character I’ve had rattling around in my head for a while, though I’ve not yet finished any stories where she’s a major character, and when I tried to figure out what she’d like about the guy, I came up with a blank page.
I finally realized she’s probably an aromantic asexual. That hadn’t occurred to me. She’s a young, pretty, socially adept physics whiz…who also ended up a werewolf at 12. (For the record, I came up with this character before I ever heard of the Mercy Thompson series.)
I finally figured it out while realizing that I’m asexual, at least for the time being. (I have reason to suspect it’s a reactive asexuality rather than an actual natural one, with me naturally qualifying as a gray-a.)
But asexuality wasn’t one of the options I was thinking about, when I was trying to figure out this character. I knew she didn’t like other females or both genders, so I assumed she had to like guys.
Fortunately, I realized it pretty early into the story. 🙂
Interesting! And that’s why listening to our characters is really the best way to make sure we’re not making stereotypical assumptions. 🙂
As I mentioned in one of these comments, I didn’t “hear” my upcoming heroine’s voice until I wiped the slate clean of assumptions. Only after realizing how her background was so different from mine was I able to “know” her. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Of course, this is a sensitive subject – and one that does need to be discussed. In my current novel, I’m working on having a highly diverse population – but that is because the world involves refugees from all over the ‘world.’ So how awkward would it be to have only white males in my refugee city? And frankly, I’m having fun meeting all these ‘different’ people! I agree that we have to stay true to our art. My other novel is completely populated by ancient Japanese people, and that’s okay too. On the labeling topic- I want to add a layer to it: yes, we all make an instant label when we meet someone, but it is what we DO with that information that makes a difference. Do you keep that person in a particular ‘bucket’ even though they move on to show you evidence to the contrary? Do you apply all your past experiences with that ‘label’ to the person you just met? [tangent- I think that’s why stereotypes in novels can be so successful – people are applying their own emotional experience of that stereotype to that character]. Articles like these are great because they keep the conversation going. Once the conversation goes silent, that’s where harm lies. The movie/writing industry is saturated with such a high percentage of white males, it’s ingrained in our minds that’s what most characters are. I think it’s the DISCUSSION that’s of key importance, so we do actually stop and question… — Read More »
Hi Jennifer, Good point! I faced this “need” to be diverse when writing my first story. The “world” involved groups from around the globe, and it would be disingenuous to ignore the diversity of the characters. So I started out my writing career with that thought process of questioning assumptions. Some who might not have faced the “need” might work from default assumptions until the issue is pointed out to them. That’s where the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign can help. On the “what we do with that categorization” issue–Exactly! If our categories result in disrespect or in limiting our understanding of unique individuals, that’s a problem. I’m not a brain expert, but I think what happens in our brains (if we’re not an *-ist) is that a new acquaintance starts in a category of whatever we can observe or determine from small talk, anything from gender to friends in common. But as we get to know someone and become friends with them, our brain moves them into their own unique category. That’s why we can look at someone we know and think “Oh, that’s so-and-so” and not about the superficial categories. But it takes time and more information before our brain takes that step of creating a custom category for someone. Just as we don’t name the “spear-carriers” in our books, our brains won’t create a custom category without a reason. As long as we’re open to others, however, that customization will happen. But it’s against human nature (not to mention our… — Read More »
Great post! What irks me is that certain groups are immune when it comes to stereotyping and categorizing. Yes, we need the shortcut and we simply CANNOT know everything (I.e. that someone is Argentinian and not Hispanic and yes I have been REAMED for that). But other races have no problem referring to me as the “white woman” and I don’t have issue with this. But, if I say, “Yeah, you’re looking for Cynthia, the black woman with short hair” then I am being insensitive by not saying “African American?” I need to be able to spot the difference between a Cuban and an Ecuadorian, a Thai and a Korean, but “white” is okay even though I am primarily Scandinavian and our looks, values and culture are very different from English, Italian, Polish or Russian. So as a “white” person, I’m supposed to be an expert on PC and instant recognition of all world ethnic groups, but the same burden isn’t on others? I say that people need to just LIGHTEN UP. I don’t demand the world know I am a Scandinavian-American. I’m an American. Yes, the white lady with the big mouth :). And as far as writing a diverse group of characters, sometimes I think we as writers might write those of another race, religion, sex, etc BETTER because we pay far closer attention since we aren’t part of those groups. My male characters are ALWAYS better than my female characters and likely because as a chick? There… — Read More »
Yes, our brains can only learn what they’re exposed to. Until I lived in an area with many Asians, I didn’t “see” the visual differences between Asian nationalities (knowing what features to pay attention to). I still can’t differentiate between the various Hispanic and South American nationalities. (I see the differences, but I don’t know what they mean.)
That doesn’t mean I was–or am–racist. That simply means that I don’t have enough information to train my brain. That’s not a crime. As you said, people of another ethnicity might say that all “white people” look the same to them too–and unless they’ve been exposed to what creates the differences, they might not pay attention and that’s not a crime either.
Like you, I choose not to be offended. It’s very difficult for people to offend me. (They have to really try. LOL!)
Great point about how outsiders might be more objective about characters unlike themselves! I agree completely about how I write male characters more individually because I’m not one. 😀 It’s much easier for me to listen to the character and not to my assumptions when the character is so different from myself. Thanks for the comment!
And the irony of writing that post on PC was when I looked through all my relationships and friendships and school experiences as a kid and young adult in Texas, I WAS THE MINORITY. I didn’t realize that until 25 years later. My group of friends has three Vietnamese, a Choctaw, three Mexicans, two African Americans, there Muslim-Americans…and then me, the “white” girl ;).
LOL! Yep, and you know what? The only time I was bullied in that school was by a white boy who joined my class for a couple of months. 😉
I had a similar experience in my friend-group in high school, as I went to an inner city school.
I love this post! 😀 Yes I definitely agree that we should stay true to THAT SPECIFIC PERSON (character) rather than that SPECIFIC CATEGORY of person. Good point in that we thus shouldn’t worry so much about getting the “types right”, lol. Yeah I used to fear writing from the POV of male characters, but now I’m not afraid anymore. In fact, I find that I write from male POVs more often than from female POVs, lol! I heard from George R.R. Martin that we shouldn’t fear writing characters of the opposite gender from us. Instead, we should think of them as PEOPLE, not as GENDERS. This makes a lot of sense and now I feel perfectly comfortable with and LOVE writing in the male perspective. I even find it easy and not at all unsettling to write in the POV of a male being in love with a girl or even to write sex scenes in the POV of a male. Because he is a person, not a gender. :D. In fact, I think if we want to worry at all, we should worry more about similarity of PERSONALITY rather than of gender. It’s easier for me to write a male character with a personality similar to mine, than to write a female character with a very different personality from mine. That said, we can still write about people with different personalities from us. Though I find that no matter how different they are, unless they are minor characters,… — Read More »
Exactly! If we try to stick to some “ideal” representation of a category, that’s just as bad as using a cliche. Much better to think of unique individuals–and just let their various categories be part of what defines them, along with all their other aspects. 🙂
I hear you on the worry about family and friends’ judgments. But we can’t be responsible for what others think or feel. As long as we’re not being offensive (unless that’s the point, such as with an antagonist), self-censorship will drive us crazy and stifle our muse.
That said, I’d also say don’t feel the need to put something specific in unless it fits the story to be specific. This “being true to our story and characters” goes both ways. 😉
And I love what you said about how our characters shouldn’t be seen as a “statement.” That’s exactly why I want to see more diverse books.
If there are only a handful of XYZ type of diversity in such-and-such genre, each XYZ type of character will feel like a statement. Whereas if we have a lot of diversity, each type of character can be seen as individuals–which is what we all want. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Mmm, good point that following an ideal for a category would be a cliche. It’s much more fun to see PEOPLE rather than cliches, haha. The categories being only part of what defines them, yes indeed! Actually, my lesbian character doesn’t have any stereotypical lesbian characteristics (e.g. very boyish/ butch; she’s actually rather feminine, and she’s like everyone’s beloved older sister :D), except that the person she’s in love with is also female and that she’s not interested in men. But that’s just the definition of a lesbian, not really a stereotypical trait, haha. ” I hear you on the worry about family and friends’ judgments. But we can’t be responsible for what others think or feel. As long as we’re not being offensive (unless that’s the point, such as with an antagonist), self-censorship will drive us crazy and stifle our muse. ” True, that. I really shouldn’t feel that anxious about writing about homosexual characters just because I know some of my readers are kind of homophobic, lol. ” And I love what you said about how our characters shouldn’t be seen as a “statement.” ” Yes! And I really hate how some readers automatically assume that any beliefs expressed by your main characters represent YOUR beliefs. I could write about people with completely different attitudes towards things from me. E.g. my character might think that gambling is acceptable and even enjoyable, but I obviously DON’T think gambling is okay, lol. So it’s better if a work is not… — Read More »
LOL! Yep, I know several lesbians, and while a few are the stereotypical butch, others are most definitely not. 🙂 And that’s why stereotypes fall short. Stereotypes might be a legitimate starting point for our brain’s understanding, but they shouldn’t be the ending point.
Very true about how our characters are not us, and while we might write stories with themes that agree with our worldview, that doesn’t mean every element or every character will reflect us. Our stories will usually be better if we can explore any variety we want.
Exactly! on the reason why we need to see LOTS of diversity to avoid stereotypes. More of that subtext I love. 😉 Thanks for the comment!
I think we are all looking to see ourselves represented in fiction and we’re also constantly categorizing everything as “like me” or “not like me”. Do we humans have a natural tendency to villainize or fetishize what we see as different? I’d like to see respectful discussions about how specific words do trigger feelings, because while we can’t please everyone, we can all broaden our understanding of how our own perspective is shown in our writing.
Thanks for bringing this up.
Yes, it would be great to be able to have calm conversations about various words and impressions. I’ve seen others try to start such discussions, and unfortunately, the often devolve into someone trying to state that their opinion (which is often unrelated to their personal experience) should be universal to everyone. *sigh* We can hope that as a society, we’ll eventually get there. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
This is an important topic to discuss, although I don’t really think there’s a solution. I get reviews that criticize my books as “politically correct drivel” because I have a diverse cast of characters. And others say my books “set feminism back 1000 years” because my heroine is more Lucille Ball than Lara Croft. We live in the age of the permanently offended. There are people who will take offense at anything, even if it means purposely twisting words or making up stuff that isn’t there. One of my favorite writers is Ursula LeGuin, who makes you think differently about stereotypes by not telling you the POV character is black until halfway through the book, and he/she changes gender along the way. But I see lots of people who hate being “tricked” out of their usual stereotyped shorthand by her writing. Not that there’s anything wrong with the shorthand. As you say, the human brain thinks in categories. They make for easier reading. I think that in the end, we have to write what works for our story. And that usually ends up following the old rule of writing what we know. I figure if you don’t know any African-American trans people, you probably can’t write about them as well as you can about Armenian-American farmers in the Central California Valley where you grew up. Or fat Irish girls with unmanageable hair if you happen to be one. So write about the Armenians and fat girls with bad hair and… — Read More »
Yes, there are far too many wanting to be offended, and often for things they don’t have personal experience with. It’s one thing to be sensitive to others, but it’s a far stranger thing when I see someone tell the affected party that they “should be” offended at something and are upset when they’re not. O.o
Ooo, great point about how authors can not define characters, and how that approach comes with its own fans and complainers. I remember when that happened with Hunger Games and Rue. The author never specifically said the skin color of Rue, but the subtext of her district implied black. Yet there was a whole host of people complaining about the movie deceiving them when Rue was revealed to be, yes, black. *sigh*
LOL! about complainers being happy only when they complain. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
“Political Correctness” = pseudo intellectualism hiding intentional destruction of any opposing free will based thoughts and ideas. Why it persists and continues to grow seems based on the amount of teeth gnashing the NON-“Politically Correct” waste on it. It (PC) seems to have taken on a uncontrollable life of its own bringing down any who oppose it.
This whole subject could easily devolve into a diatribe against a political party or derogatory spiel against main stream media.
Instead of withering up and blowing away as all bad ideas should, this will continue to grow and demand an ever higher price for free thinking non-conformity. What a shame!
Yes, it’s very true that many discussions about political correctness devolve into personal attacks and political rants. I’ve seen people claim that EVERY member of such-and-such political party must be an *-ist label. That’s the destructive kind of stereotyping, and all groups can be guilty of it.
I write with lots of subtext and I see much more nuance in the world. Most labels of any kind don’t apply to me (much less fit perfectly). Because of our unique experiences, I’d guess that most of us could say the same.
We might agree with X party on this issue and Y party on that issue. Attacks don’t want to see nuance–only enemies. And that’s the most destructive idea of all. 🙁 Thanks for the comment!
Great post, Jami (as was Kristen’s)! My next novel features a main character who is paralyzed in an accident. I am not paralyzed, so I know that in order to make sure I understand (as well as I can) what that type of life event does to a person beyond the physical is to research, research, research.
This will involve talking with people who know what that’s like. In my day job, I happen to work with employees who need accommodations at work due to medical conditions/disabilities, and many of them are paraplegics or people who require assistive devices to walk. I’ve worked closely with them this year and seeing their challenges has opened my eyes. This type of diversity is horribly lacking in fiction, especially in YA. The teen years are hard enough–imagine losing your ability to walk when you’re that age. That’s what I want to explore in my work.
But like you’ve said, my MC will be her own person, with her own life experiences. She’s not going to be “generic” paraplegic. Will it speak to everyone with that experience? No. But this story is much more about this one person’s experience.
Exactly! We want to know about the potential experiences our characters might have had so those we portray that are specific to them are shown honestly. That involves research. But no matter what, our story won’t speak to everyone with that experience, and that’s okay. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Last year, I wrote “The Disability Challenge” for Unleaded Fuel for Writers. It’s worth posting here, and can easily be converted to other diverse characters: http://unleadedwriting.com/2013/01/08/the-disability-challenge-getting-a-disabled-character-in-your-story/
I think the challenge is that diversity is such a volatile issue that discussion turns into knock down drag out fights that scare people off. Political correctness, unfortunately, tends to speak to the people who don’t need to hear it or don’t want to hear it, and leaves the people who might make a difference too scared to try. A challenge like the above is a very simple way to get your feet wet in a safe way. I did it with a relatively minor character in one of my books (a guy in a wheelchair who painted surfboards), and he turned into an awesome character. Which I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t tried it into the first place.
Thanks for sharing your experience! I love the challenge idea–and the way you pointed out that this isn’t about making stories where the diverse aspect is the story. That’s where we too often run into trouble. Instead, the story is the story and the characters are three-dimensional, and the diversity aspect is just part of who they are.
And you’re so right about the ultimate issue. If we don’t even try, we’re going to miss out on great characters–and so will our readers. 🙁
There are some blogs focused on discussing books from a diversity standpoint, and seeing what resonates or what offends might help us get a handle on the challenge as well. One I know of for the romance genre is Love In The Margins. Under “Reading Guide,” they list many more review blogs focused on various aspects of diversity. Thanks for the comment! 🙂
I very much appreciate all your writing tips, but that out of the way, I came away kind of confused about what you were trying to say.
I agree some people are afraid to “write diversity” and I get why–but as you point out, if authors can write fantasy (or be another gender), they can do race, too. I agree white shouldn’t be the default.
So, we are on the same page there, but being “true” to your character is to me a cop-out. It’s easy to say, but doesn’t change much. Unfortunately, much does need to change, because 8% for characters or authors of color is not enough. I don’t see agonizing about how authors can’t be “authentic” writing from the viewpoint of another gender.
I do try to make sure I always have someone diverse. I mean, I write fantasy. If I can write about a ghost, I can write about someone who is a different color (or gender) than I am.
Hi Fiona, Most of the time, when authors are seriously slammed for writing diverse characters, it’s because the author chose to write a character according to a stereotype or because they made the character an “other” (like an uber-insightful, near magical elderly black woman whose only purpose in the story is to make the protagonist “better”). Neither of those situations treat the diverse characters as three-dimensional. They’re important only for their diverse aspects and not treated as a “real” person. My call to be true to the character is for us, as authors, to ensure that we’re treating these diverse characters as characters first. That they’re not just that diverse element–that is just one piece of their whole. And if we’re viewing these characters as whole, three-dimensional beings, we’re more likely to portray them in unique, non-stereotypical ways. So I guess you could say that my call is that not only should we be open to diverse characters in our stories, but also to reassure authors how they can ensure they avoid the stereotype issue. In other words, I’m trying to get rid of the fears that could be used as excuses for avoiding the inclusion of diverse characters. 🙂 As I mentioned on Facebook: “Having lots of diverse books means that the stupid stereotypes will be drowned out by sheer variety. But… The only way to have LOTS of diverse books is if everyone feels “allowed” to write stories beyond their experience. And that means we can’t let fear… — Read More »
Just putting in my two cents worth:
It’s a big problem getting people to put diversity into any stories. I have a friend who was an editor of a publication. They put into the guidelines they wanted diversity characters. They advertised it everywhere. Out of the hundreds of submissions, they got exactly 12 diverse characters. Of the 12, the disabled characters were all bad guys (i.e., disability made them evil) or got killed on the first page (i.e., disability made them victims). The PoC in the stories followed a similar trend, and there were few women characters. Some were likely thinking that the reader would apply diversity and the writer could leave off the description, which then resulted in a default character, rather than a diverse character.
It sounds easy, but it’s not. If the writer wants to do diversity, they have to OWN it, and they have to pay attention to it. I’ve heard many writers say, “I don’t like describing characters. It’s better to let the reader imagine it.” In the absence of description, the default sets in. I saw a recommendation that the easiest way around this was to describe all the characters’ skin colors, but the first time actually trying that will be very hard.
Thanks so much for sharing that information! That’s incredibly sad and disappointing, but also not surprising. 🙁 Those are all “throw-away” characters with negative aspects, which is about the worst combination possible.
I say we shouldn’t count a story as being truly “diverse” unless the diverse character is a) specifically described (not just un-described), b) a major-enough character to be three-dimensional, and c) if one is the bad guy, there should be others who aren’t the bad guy. Thoughts? 🙂
Some readers might apply diversity to an un-described character, but as you said, many won’t because their defaults are too strong. The example you had in the challenge you listed–with using sound (or other senses) and action in addition to sight for description–might help authors get over the awkwardness. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Wonderful post! And I agree I want more diversity in my books, and I love writing diverse characters as they travel to countries I’ve never been. I do my research, try and find someone of that xyz to give me their opinion on how I’m doing and for my YA series I’m totally cheating, its written 1st POV, so all my diverse characters are seen from her POV and I’m not in their heads.
Yes, research definitely helps, and starting with a non-POV character can ease us into learning the stereotypes and assumptions we need to avoid. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
I also tend to write first person, but sometimes I find it helpful to read memoirs and first person accounts (online) by people who’ve been in the position of one of my characters, whether it’s the way a pretty part-Asian girl might get treated in a club, or what a gunshot to the chest feels like.
That’s a great tip! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Well said. I responded on the blog of a writer who started the campaign (though it was probably multiple writers). I agree that minorities get treated differently. I work a mile outside the Detroit city limits. I talk to these guys every day. I hear the stories. But I also stated that we cannot force readers to read more diverse books just because it’s the right thing to do. We read diverse books because the stories are good and characters interesting (funny how that universal rule works). We read diverse characters because we’re sick of reading about people just like us. I will write in a black Detroit man because he’s a fantastic character, not because black Detroit men get watched like hawks whenever they enter a department store. This attempt to engineer human behavior has been a losing proposition for centuries, and will result in the inevitable backlash. Like I said, I talk to my black Detroit friends here where I work. And I no longer walk on eggshells. Niether do they. Start there, with a conversation, then you won’t need some hashtag campaign to change the world.
I absolutely agree that storytelling comes first! As you said, readers have to want to read the story. Then the diversity comes along for the ride and sinks in through subtext. 😉
I certainly hope more diverse authors write their stories, and none of this is meant to take away from their efforts and work at all. But the rest of us can add diversity to our stories, simply by starting with a true blank slate for every character that walks onto the page.
If we do that, we’ll not only be insuring that the story comes first, so this isn’t about trying to “cram” diversity into stories, but we’ll also be adding to the overall diversity of the stories on the shelves. I see that as a win-win. 🙂
I agree that any attempt to “cram” in diversity or as you said, “engineer,” behavior will result in a backlash–which is on some level the problem with political correctness, at least as far as these unintended consequences of eggshell-walking. I’m glad you were able to move past that point with your friends, and that’s what I hope to get away from, but that might mean people needing to cut each other more slack as long as we’re all trying. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
[…] of Self-Importance—Can We Find a Cure? Jami Gold wrote a fabulous follow-up piece about how PC could endanger diversity in books. If we allow PC to reign, will it discourage authors from writing about a diverse mix of characters? […]
Oh, this is something I shouldn’t comment on, because I really just don’t care about diversity in literature. I’m certainly not afraid of it, but I don’t feel that any victory has been gained because a book’s character is female or black or gay. There was a time when we were supposed to be colorblind. I always hated that phrase. Now, though, we’re supposed to celebrate diversity by making certain that everyone is represented, even in fiction where the people are not people, they are words on paper. I think colorblind was better. Can I relate to a female or black or homosexual character as well as a white, straight male? Yes. Absolutely. In fact, I take a bit of umbrage at the idea that any of these things is a barrier between myself and the ideas and experiences of others. I don’t need characters who resemble me or those that I know. I certainly won’t resist the idea of diversity in literature, only the deliberate quest for it. My resistance to this quest for diversity is, ironically, based on a kind of idealism. I hate to sound this sunny and naïve, but I do truly believe that we are all the same. As you’ve pointed out, Miss Gold, we are all different and diverse unto ourselves. We are also all the same. We all think. We all feel. I think it’s misguided to APPLY diversity to a story. Write the characters that you see in the story. Just make… — Read More »
Hi Matthew, On many levels, I don’t disagree. The story needs to comes first or we’re likely to invoke yet more backlash. However, if we leave characters un-described or we don’t start from a true blank slate (for example, not assuming every character is white, middle-class, straight, male, etc. unless proven otherwise), we run into problems. That’s why I believe, as authors, we should be conscious of this. I don’t force any of my characters or stories to be diverse. This isn’t about trying to meet a quota or cramming diversity in to make a point. I don’t try to make sure “everyone is represented.” Instead, what I’ve found is that by NOT assuming that “default” character, by ensuring that I start with a true blank slate when characters walk onto the page, diverse voices naturally creep into my characters. So merely by being conscious of avoiding “default” characters, diversity appears. 🙂 That, to me, is what this push (at least as far as non-diverse authors) can be about. Also, while I agree with leaving minor characters un-described, for major characters, something (maybe not visual) should hint at their diversity or they are going to be whitewashed. It’s easy to say that would be the reader’s problem and not the author’s, but that also wouldn’t necessarily be true to character to not have their diversity affect them or their experience in any way–EVER. I don’t write stories where the diversity is the point–or even where it’s trying to make a… — Read More »
Great article. Glad to see someone else noting that it’s not as cut and dry as many people make it out to be. It’s not just as simple as ‘buy more diverse books’ or ‘write more diverse books’. PC Sameness is literally stagnating our culture and not having the positive impact it was originally intended for.
Good point! It does no good to say that there’s “only one right way” to write a such-and-such character. a) That’s not true to the diversity of experiences such-and-such type of people have. And b) that will just create new stereotypes and cliches, which is lazy writing. 🙂
True diversity means welcoming stories with all manner of characters with all manner of experiences. Thanks for the comment!
[…] Kristen Lamb wrote a post called The Disease of Self-Importance—Can We Find a Cure? that I would NEVER have been brave enough to write. Jami Gold wrote a follow-up piece full of fabulous badassery about how Political Correctness could endanger diversity in books. […]
[…] so far I’ve survived the discussion about diversity in literature from last time. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment because I want to touch on one concern […]
Unfortunately being on the inside doesn’t protect you from the PC brigade. A future book I want to write features epilepsy quite heavily and whilst I have epilepsy myself, I can guarantee that there will be people who take offence to it. To be honest, I don’t care. I think that most people will recognise that it’s just an expression of the question we all ask when things get tough, “Why the hell did I get lumbered with this?” Even though my portrayal would be just as valid as any of my epileptic peers I expect it’ll come in for some heavy criticism. The pep squad is so intent on quashing any kind of stereotype that it almost denies people the right to their own feelings and thoughts. It’s sad when you can’t express anything other than shiny happy crap because someone believes that it’s to the detriment of the group. I’m in a Live Journal community called Epileptics and we were all quite happy sharing our experiences and woes when someone came along and posted a rant about how she found the name of the community unacceptable as the term “epileptic” was offensive. She herself was a carer rather than a sufferer (yes I said sufferer as we sure as hell don’t enjoy it) and she was universally told to get a grip and stop being so sensitive. The truth is as well that sometimes epileptic is the only word that makes a sentence make sense and trying to… — Read More »
Hi Lolita, I understand and suspect you’re right about the criticism some will have for your story. 🙁 I’m sorry for your experience with LJ, but thank you so much for sharing it so we all can learn! That style of judgment–assuming that there’s only one right experience or attitude or whatever–is what drives me craziest. The expectation that everyone with ONE similar aspect would be lockstep in every aspect is just another form of stereotyping. It dismisses and shames the reality of others’ experiences, and when that expectation comes from someone without the experience, it’s infinitely more frustrating. LOL! at your pink rant. I don’t mind pink now, but as a child I hated pink (or anything pastel, really) with a passion. I absolutely refused to wear any of it. My mom probably had a heck of a time buying anything for me. 😉 And by the way, I own an all-black baseball cap too. 😀 Mine is a woman’s cap (I think), but the fabric is more felt-like than usual baseball cap material. So yeah, I know the struggle. :-/ As for the gender reality, the truth is that many stereotypes exist for a reason. If I included characters like those you’d describe, I’d just make sure that the stereotype wasn’t limiting. That is, maybe other female characters wouldn’t be like that, or maybe one of them changes during the course of the story, etc. We don’t want to be unrealistic on either extreme, and sometimes that means… — Read More »
Great comment, Lolita. I think the only thing we can do that can ring true is write from our own experiences with these things, and we all have them in some form. There will always be haters and trolls.
As for the gender issues, well said. I remember being amazed in law school that even the most serious women students spent their time obsessing about the men. Needless to say, the men found other things to talk about.
I am determined to write strong women who are actually women. What self-proclaimed feminists don’t seem to realize is that women are not men with girl parts. We are different. We have different brain chemistry, we have different life experiences, and in many things, we have different values. So the women in our books have curves, they like sugar, and while they may be great shots with sniping rifles (we write spy thrillers), they also knit great sweaters and make lasagna. I’m tired of overboard PC feminism putting women down for being women, and I refuse to play along. I have to believe there is an audience for strong women who aren’t men with girl parts.
Thank you for your perspective and your courage.
Yes, “gender equailty” doesn’t do any good if it’s just going to dictate that there’s only one way to be a “strong female.” But that’s a different rant. 😉 Thanks for sharing your insights!
Great post, Jami. For myself, I don’t give a rodent’s rear end about PC. I’m a child of the 60s. The whole point of the Civil Rights Movement was that everyone is a PERSON first, and that race, religion, and disabilities are IRRELEVANT. Unfortunately, that has been turned on its ear, and race seems to be more relevant than ever. In the 80s, I was shot at, my horse was shot, and my family was savaged and run out of a predominantly Mexican-American town because we were white. In the 90s, I was told by minorities that I would not be considered for jobs because I’m white. My daughter was the only white girl and only middle class girl at her school in first grade, and we had to move her because she was constantly the brunt of vicious racism. The result? I am more convicted than ever in my belief that racism is racism, no matter who perpetuates it, and there’s plenty getting spread around by the people who scream foul the loudest. The behavior is the behavior, and no one gets a pass. At this point, I’m so sad to see that The Dream of racial equality is being buried by the new institutional rise of racism. All of the questions we fought to have removed from medical and education forms are back with even deeper implications than before. Racism has become an industry, and there is a great deal of money and political power in convincing people… — Read More »
As someone who grew up with a black Santa as normal in the local store, I want to see people as people too. And sometimes struggling to find the “right” labels feels like it’s calling attention to differences, which–and I don’t mean to erase different struggles by any means–can feel “othering,” which I don’t want to do.
There has to be a way to recognize different struggles–so we’re not blind to them–but not making such a big deal of people’s differences that it’s “othering.” :-/
And yes, I’ve heard “traitor to your race” and “traitor to your gender” and all sorts of things, which…just make no sense to me. I’d rather search for commonalities with anyone regardless of our labels. *sigh* Thanks for the comment!
Everyone has struggles. Everyone. The PC culture ranks struggles, and that is an elitist approach that encourages people to think of themselves as victims rather than people with opportunities and responsibilities. It’s divisive and perpetuates racism.
That said, there is definitely racism to be dealt with, and no one is being honest about it. All minorities get a free pass to openly hate on whites, and in fact, it has become fashionable to do so in movies, media, and TV. At the same time, no one is confronting the rampant racism in marketing. Corporations are the worst. For example, the last time I visited Holmes, he received a credit card offer in Spanish in the mail. “Cash this check now.” Fine print? 55% interest rate. I don’t think that’s even legal, but Spanish speakers are targeted with this crap. It’s SICK, and no one is talking about it. These are the same companies that carry on about PC in the workplace.
And “race traitor”? What kind of crap is that? Last time I checked, we’re all the “human” race.
I’m with you. We are all individuals who have suffered and struggled. Let’s focus on the commonalities.
Wow, that experience with Holmes. Sick is right. That exploitation is the kind of racism that deserves attention, and yes, should be ranked above angry debate over whether this respectfully meant label is more PC than that respectfully meant label. As you said, divisiveness just perpetuates racism. Thanks for the comment!