Saturday, February 7, 2015

Keep Calm and Don't Stereotype White People

Before I get this started I want to say that I know this is a controversial subject, but I feel like this needs to be said. I've procrastinated posting this for months now, because I've been dreading the potential heat. If you want to comment, please keep it courteous. I'm not looking to start a comment debate, I'm just putting my side of the issue out there since I've never seen anyone else say it. Now here is the actual post:

I see a lot of these posts about diversity, diversity, make sure there are enough characters with diversity your book. Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. Don't offend someone. Don't stereotype. With today's politics everyone is so afraid of being racist.

And it's always white peoples' fault.

This is partially because of history, but doesn't that mean that all Caucasians are ignorant, snobbish, racist jerks. And aren't white people diverse too? Aren't we an ethnicity? Does the color of my skin exclude me from being called such (I'm as white as a piece of paper.)?

Our views come out in our writing. Too often one or more persons writes the idea then everyone takes it for truth. If one person stereotypes one group of individuals then others will often follow and spread infectious lies. This has happened to other people groups such as Christians or hunters.

After reading this post about writing people of color, I was very motivated to write this post. This author treats white people like they have no respect for any other ethnicity. In his attempt to remove the stereotypes from "colored races", he stereotyped white people. Though there have been posts that have been gentler about the subject like this one and this one, this issue still needs to be addressed. Making white people feel ashamed of their race isn't the answer.

White people are very diverse as well, and not all are Americans. There are many diversities. French culture is different than American. Others include German, British, Canadian, Irish, Scottish, and Russian. All white, but starkly different culturally. We are just as varied as anyone else. Our behaviors within cultures vary as well. I'm sure not every Russian likes vodka just like every American doesn't like ketchup (me for example).

Why are white people pressured to put other races into their stories? Why aren't other colored races pressured to put white people in their stories? The latter is unheard of this day and age. Is this atonement for history? I'm not my ancestors. Generations ago my family owned a sugar plantation in Florida with slaves who worked it. Those family members are long dead. I'm not responsible for them owning slaves nor am I responsible for any other bad treatment my family may have had toward any other race. Nobody else should be either for their ancestors.

If a publisher told a black person today to write a white person into their story, not only would the black person refuse (and they'd be right to do so), but the publisher would be considered racist. If a publisher tells a white person to write diverse races into their stories, they're just considered pro-diversity. How does that make sense?

What character ethnicities you have in your stories should be your choice, not political pressure. What matters is your story world. If you are writing a story set in the United States it wouldn't be appropriate to not at least mention someone of a different race. Seeing all different kinds is very common. On the other hand if you're writing a story set in Tibet, China, it's much less likely you'll encounter a white person. In real world settings you're dependent on the facts. Do your research.

Concerning fantasy worlds, it's up to you. If you want all Asian, all white, all black, more white than black, more black than white that's your choice not society's. You're not racist. Don't let people pressure you or do it just to avoid offending people. People will always find some way to be offended even when you're totally not trying to be offensive. What races you choose is just what you think is appropriate for the story world. Tolkien chose to have all Caucasian in Lord of the Rings and Gene Roddenberry decided to be more varied in Star Trek. It's just how they pictured their story worlds.

Dan Eagleman (Guilty Crown)
A point stated in one of the aforementioned articles about stereotyping other races was having a Chinese girl know martial arts just because she's Chinese in the film Candleshoe. That was a bit stereotypical, and probably foolish of the filmmakers, but colored people aren't the only ones stereotyped.

In the Japanese anime Guilty Crown, there is a white American character named Dan Eagleman who is extremely stereotypical. I mean seriously his last name is Eagleman. He is extroverted and a former American football coach. I don't see any white Americans getting upset about being stereotyped like that.

(WARNING: Spoilers in this section.) In the film X-Men First Class, one of the very few black characters is killed and people raged about it. In Death Note, the only American character FBI Agent Raye Penber dies and no white people are raging about that. Why are people calling racism if the colored person killed and not the white person? (End of Spoilers)

I'm not saying there is no base to why diversity posts have arisen. There are some people who are naive and just don't know if they're being offensive or not. Then there are some ignorant morons out there who don't bother to ever change. But there aren't just white racist morons, there are racist morons in all races. I don't like being called "white trash" any more than other race likes to be called a number of extremely offensive names I won't list here. Every race has had its hardships caused by a variety of other races. Making one race feel responsible for all the troubles of the other races won't bring good change. It's just hurtful. Putting these opinions into literature immortalizes these feelings and fans flames.

Some stereotypical things have merit such as French people do eat a lot of baguettes, or Hispanics talk really fast and tend to phase into Spanish when emotional, or Americans are often extroverted, or the Chinese will still practice the tradition of taking off outside shoes and putting on slippers, but that doesn't mean there isn't variety within every race and culture.

Any culture or person can be stereotyped by their hair, their skin, where they grew up, or what political group they're in. That's how people work. I'm republican and a person I know thinks Republican are all rich, snooty white people. I'm not rich, I'm pretty sure I'm not snooty, and I know a people of a wide variety races who are Republican.

What I'm saying is we are all people. I know one of the aforementioned articles thinks that when I say that I mean, "We're all white." I don't mean that at all. I mean we are all beautiful creations of God (No, I don't think Jesus was white. He's Jewish.) whatever your skin color is. The amount of melanocytes (skin pigment) does not make anyone any more or less human than another person. I love my Ecuadorian aunt, my Korean friend, or my adopted Haitian cousin just as much as I love anyone with white skin.

Our skin doesn't matter, it's what's under the skin.

Write in the ethnicities that you believe are best for your stories.

Don't feed the stereotypes, but include all races in that. Write the truth.

I'm all for diversity, but don't leave white people out of it.

What do you think?

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