Can White Writers Write Characters Of Color?

It has both benefits and drawbacks. Nevertheless, that's the phrase authors use most often when discussing creating minority characters, especially those of color.

No matter what you do, it seems to imply that you'll always come out on the losing end. Type minorities? Individuals will find fault with you. The term "minorities" should not be used, and you will get a lot of flak. However, many writers I know use this ideology as an excuse not to expand or diversify their writing or worldviews.

Naturally, at its core, this is correct. You can expect to receive feedback throughout your writing career. Sadly, that's par for the course. And the point of criticism — honest, valid criticism — isn't to attack white authors for avoiding stories about minorities. That doesn't mean it's clearing white authors of racism. Instead, the lack of representation of marginalized groups in literature and the publishing industry is highlighted.

Many white writers I've come across seem less concerned with writing genuinely multicultural characters than they are with avoiding responsibility for their own implicit bias. Finding one person of color who will say, "yes, of course, you can write characters of color without indulging in the kind of research and cultural knowledge that should be expected of you," while ignoring any dissent from other people of color is a top priority for these white people. Or they are trying to find a way to defend their actions by saying things like "here come the PC police again" or "you can't win no matter what you do!" when criticism is leveled at them.

The situation, alas, is not so straightforward. Having just one person say "please" won't cut it. I give you full creative license to include people of color in your writing. And just because someone says, "nope, don't write characters of color ever," doesn't mean you should stop trying to do so. Simply admitting defeat, exclaiming, "Because you can't do it!" and resigning yourself to focusing solely on white characters would be appropriate responses.

Writers of color, and readers of color, have valid concerns about white authors who write characters of color, which should be acknowledged and addressed.

It's best to write about things you're familiar with.

To properly portray specific characters, cultural understanding is often beyond the reach of white authors. In addition, they lack the motivation to acquire this knowledge actively; they fail to go out and conduct the necessary research. I know many white authors who think they can write about people of color without trying to learn about or empathize with their cultures. This is likely one of the reasons why authors frequently create characters who aren't white but don't fit neatly into any other racial category. It's a way to avoid doing actual research or trying to learn about the experiences of people of different races and cultures.

People often think that "write what you know" is the best piece of writing advice ever. But over the past few years, this exact phrase has come to be looked down upon. This is especially true for writers who write science fiction or fantasy, which are not based on real life. They think that the advice "write what you know" is trying to limit them and their imaginations.

This vital piece of writing advice is complicated for white writers to understand. People often say you can't be diverse if you only write what you know. For example, they say they can't write about characters of color because they don't know what they would be like.

Research

Because we live in an age of technology, we can find almost anything we want to know. For example, some blogs and websites help writers create characters from different cultures, sexual orientations, genders, races, etc. People who identify with these identities and are willing to help writers naturally write diverse characters often write them. Writers can also find sensitive readers who will look over their manuscripts for problems with how they are represented.

Hands-on research is, of course, the best kind of research. Most of the time, I get ideas for my characters of color from how I interact with my friends, who come from many different cultures and races. But many writers don't have a large group of friends and acquaintances, so the internet is right there to help them.

Most writers know that other writers are the best people to teach writing. However, to improve your writing, you must read more (or at least read more broadly). We all know how to write because of the books we have read. The same is valid for writing characters with different skin tones. Therefore, you should read them if you want to be able to write them well.

Tokenization

When writing characters of color, writers often fall into the trap of stereotyping them, often seen as passive racism or just plain ignorance. One reason for this is that the writer didn't do enough research, and the other is that there aren't many characters of color in fiction. When you only have one character from a particular race or culture, it's easier for that character to fit into a stereotype. The best way to deal with this is to have more than one character from this particular ethnic background. This way, you won't be forced into a stereotype and won't have to write "token" characters of color.

Support Writers of Color

Some people think you shouldn't write characters of color in certain situations. Or, to put it another way, I think that some stories written by white authors don't help anyone. Some stories and experiences belong to us, and just because a white writer has researched some of those things doesn't mean they can put themselves in our shoes and do those experiences justice. When you have an idea for a story, it's important to be able to ask yourself the right questions. Do you know enough about other cultures to tell this story and the character's story well? If the answer is no, don't write that story. Don't write about that person. Probably, you shouldn't tell that story.

Most of the time, these stories have vital cultural and racial elements that people outside of that culture will find hard to understand and even harder to put into a story or character. These stories will be about things that don't happen to people outside these cultural and racial groups. These are the kinds of stories you shouldn't try to read if you haven't read them before.

White writers feel pressured to write about characters of color because the people who can tell these stories are constantly pushed to the side. Many types of fiction are written primarily by white people, and so are most of the world's most important book awards. Publishing is an industry that doesn't have much in the way of variety. It's more important that writers recognize this difference in the industry and work to help writers who aren't as well-known get the attention they deserve. Putting writers of color in the spotlight will ensure that the books we read are real, new, and different.

So, should white writers write about people of color? The answer isn't easy and won't be any time soon. My thoughts on the issue might differ from those of other people of color. The important thing is that writers know what kinds of stories and characters they want to write, know what might happen if they include characters from different cultures, and are willing to listen to criticism from a wide range of people.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.

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