Most of you have figured out by now that I’m black, if for no other reason than my picture off to the side of this blog. I also happen to write genre fiction. You probably have figured this out too.
There are a lot of issues people of color (PoC) face when writing genre fiction. Should you write about black characters? Will it hinder you if you do so? Do you have to sneak PoC characters on white readers? Believe it or not, all of these things are issues within the community. I think too often the default color for writers and readers is white.
I also think that it’s too simple for writers to revert back to what they’ve been taught or they’ve seen and read all their lives. Dark skin and hair is bad and ugly. Pale white skin is beautiful and good.
It’s a shame how many writers, even today, simply fall back on this formula, instead of trying to create more complex, multi dimensional characters of all shapes and colors and worlds. Sure it’s harder but in the end it will be more engaging, thought provoking.
I attended a Fantasy Roundtable about people of color working in the field. There were a lot of interesting people from many different backgrounds. We talked about many of the problems facing PoC in the genre. It was very enlightening. Check out the first part here.
After that, go over to read Catherine Valente’s interview with Tempest. She discusses race and diversity in fiction. Then go out and buy her book. Buy two.