On -isms: Just Ask

By | Thursday, September 14, 2017 Leave a Comment
I get it. You're a cis hetero white guy, and your woke friends and acquaintances on social media are telling you in a variety of ways that you need to be more conscious about making your characters more diverse. You understand and appreciate that. Sincerely. But at the same time, you're nervous because you don't want to fuck it up. You've seen any number of creators get raked over the coals because they tried doing something similar and got it wrong. I've talked to creators who've expressly said that. That they actively avoided minority representation because they felt safer among the mass of other white guys not showing diversity than standing out by putting some diversity in their work that had the potential of coming across as tokenistic or tone deaf or what have you.

Now if you happen to have a lot of friends or relatives who fall into some minority category, you might feel more comfortable with dropping in more diverse characters. "I'll write this guy as if he's my friend Levon, and this other character would act a lot like my cousin Jasmine." Those folks have a better point of reference. It goes back to that study that shows 75% of white Americans don't know any people of color.

So, even if you're well-intentioned, what can you do?

You follow my friend Steve's example...

Within an hour, he had a response. A few more followed over the next day or three.

See how easy that was? If you have a question, just ask! Even if you're off-base, people will respect that you're trying to do right by them and will try to provide constructive feedback.

Maybe this time it's about hair. Maybe next time it's about a dialect. Maybe the time after that it's something about family gatherings. But every time you ask, you get a better, clearer picture and can infuse that into better, more informed, more believable characters.

And that's what you want as a creator, isn't it?
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