First of all, did you know there are still performers making a living doing "Black Face" theatre? And one such performer is coming to Los Angeles -- West Hollywood to be specific -- in Feburary, just in time for Black History Month. Read more about the story at Jasmyne Cannick's site.
Which brings me to today's writing topic: Race/Ethnicity and Fiction.
What role, if any, do these subjects play in your characters' lives? Is race/ethnicity too sensitive a topic to be addressed in fiction? Do you prefer your characters to be color blind, or conscious of the issues and experiences around race/ethnicity that have shaped their lives? What about as a reader?
So much to ponder. But very good to think about.
In my first novel, Down For Whatever, one of the characters, Keith Hemmings, does diversity training work and tends to think a lot about race/racism in the gay community. It annoys some of his friends in the book. It also annoyed some readers of the novel, who said that Keith's parts of the book came across as preachy. Others said "Amen" to Keith's speech/preach on the "racial hierarchy of gay L.A." and that it meant a lot to see their feelings reflected by a character in a book. (BTW, the character Keith is a son of a preacher, so he's used to having his say, and used to seeing his way as right, so he's meant to be preachy.)
The cool part about writing fiction is that you get to create characters and worlds that are like no other. You also get to reflect your reality, or the reality of those around you, in your work. If that reality is being color-blind, then that might reflect the work and characters you create. If that reality is being conscious of race and ethnicity issues and experiences, then that might be reflected in your work and characters.
There are probably many factors to think about, both creatively and commercially, when creating your characters. Additionally, on the business side, the race/ethnicity of authors (and fictional characters) can play a role in the placement of the product in bookstore, how the product is marketed, or how much attention the product receives by media outlets.
How does race/ethnicity influence what you create in your fiction?
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