Creative writing Thursday: Characters of Race

Creative advice

Oooooh, you guys I am slacking. I ended up going to Toronto to draw tomorrow and my laptop/android died, guess who is a jackass that forgot the charger!
Either way I’m here now guys and I am ready to upload another creative writing post, this time we’re going to focus on Characters!…Part 1.
I have a strong belief that your characters have a huge impact on your story and you should never skimp out of them or else you run the risk of ether writing yourself into a corner or completing the story but having all the characters suffering from a severe case of living lamp syndrome. I’m not here today to talk about Lamps and Corners though, if you want that there are several house and home blogs for that. I really want to focus on writing characters of different races because I find a lot of people have a hard time doing that and I would like to address some of my biggest pet peeves. Let me start by giving you all the big secret to writing racially diverse characters…..are you ready?….here we go…
Write them like real people! Gasp! Shock!
Wow, you hear that? That’s the sound of my fellow white writers having a sudden epiphany.
Okay, enough sass more class. I’m going to list for you all my top annoyances with writing racially diverse characters and you’re all going to sit down and read it and keep in mind that this is a personal opinion and I am not the word of God. 
Stereotype 1
Sexy Japanese Girl
“Okay, no, but hear me out! Her name is Asami and she isn’t a stereotype at all. I’m not a racist so I made her super serious and pretty and she is the lead female and everything! But I wanted to please the feminists so i gave her a Katana and made her strong. There is a super good reason why she uses a Katana and seeks revenge for her dead teacher! Because she is Japanese she was raised with a strong belief in honour and blah blah” Blah blah blah….See I’ve already started tuning you out as soon as you said “raised with honour”. Oh look, another racially stereotyped East Asian(I would say Japanese but American writers often blur the lines out of lack of proper research) chick that uses a Katana…..

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How new!

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Katanas wielding ladies can’t be that overused….can they?

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Hmmmmm.
It’s really out of a lack of creativity that you wind up with this. How about instead of following a template to avoid insulting certain racial groups you just write them like you would any other character….Maybe make Asami a Boxer…..or give her a gun. Also “Because she is Japanese” isn’t a good enough reason for her to be using a Katana, you’re just an asshole that lacks creativity. One more thing, “honour” isn’t a personality trait.

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Although some would contest that.

Stereotype number 2
Street Savy Black man
We all know that stereotype. Usually partnered with the “I’m white and don’t know how to do anything” stereotype. These stereotypes usually appear in cop dramas and they kind of irk me. So tell me, were you really that lazy or were you suffering from a severe and miscalculated case of white guilt.
“No, no. My character, Will Foxx, is meant to be a representative for the people on the streets,”
“Why is he black?”
“What are you? Racist?! Are you trying to say that I am implying all black people are street people?”
No, not really. I just think you’re lazy and can’t come up with a better character so you threw in a template you knew would work and wouldn’t offend anyone. Think Chris Tucker in Rush Hour, Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop and pretty much any Will Smith Character in existence. It’s kind of getting to the point where if your black character is below the age of 40 they’re either a fast talking street savvy mother fucker or a Black Dynamite style character. If they’re over 40 they’re Morgan Freeman. I will say that in the past few years this stereotype is on a sharp decline and I love it.

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Falcon in Captain America 2? Well written character that didn’t resort to used up stereotypes and, wait for it, was written like a real person! Praise the Gods I love life.
Moving right along though.

Stereotype number 3
Spanish speaking? You are just fucked.
As someone who is dating a foxy fine Spanish speaking lady, and my best friend is Chilean, I find this one super funny and frustrating as all hell from personal experience(I’m also Portuguese and people just assume we are the same thing). Sit down for a moment and think of all the times you’ve seen a Spanish speaking character that isn’t a blatant stereotype. Go ahead, the rest of the post can wait. I also encourage you to look it up. Keep in mind all these posts only used movie examples because the pictures are easier to find for comedic effect and such, so I also encourage you to look up other mediums.
Done? Yeah me too. My personal favourite example is the recent Blue Beetle run from DC comics. Needless to say it was cancelled. I actually gave the first volume to my Chilean friend and he felt really insulted reading it.

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They took every Hispanic racial trait and exploited it and it just leaves you feeling gross and your intelligence insulted. They actually thought that this would pass as an okay thing. One of the hardest reads I have endured.
Don’t even get me started on the whole “every Mexican man and woman must be Religious” or even the “Crazy Latina” issues because I will just cry fro utter frustration.

I urge you all to do some research into the standard portrayal of any racial group you’re planning on writing and take notes on how not to go about it. A persons race is not a liable personality trait. When told to describe my Friend MaddSketch I don’t say “We’ll he’s kind and funny, he’s also very motivational and Filipino,”. Want to know why? Because you’re nationality and race don’t always play into the way you present yourself. Granted there are some people out there like “Religious short tempered Latina’s” and “Quick witted Black men from the streets”, but I think we already have enough of characters like that running around so I think we can hold off on basing characters off of them any time soon. Let’s be a generation that writes more Falcons and Kamala Khan’s, show the older generation what we are creatively capable of.
Anyway, that’s enough from me today. Sorry this turned more into a “what not to do” rather then a helpful tips and pointers post but I really feel like I shouldn’t even feel the need to write this post. Anyway, if anyone knows of more examples of characters done right please do send me their name seeing as I would love to check them out! Even if it’s your own character.
Anyway for now everyone, stay Tobly awesome.

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“I get that I’m super foxy mega awesome hot but if you base one more Asian bride fantasy off of me I will straight up shove my foot up your ass,” Lucy Liu, an assumed Lucy Liu proverb.

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