Do any of you have any tips for doing independent research for PoC characters?
This question is super broad, but I’m going to see if I can give it a crack!
First of all, consume media by the group in question. If you want to write a story with a Chinese-American protagonist, read some blogs by Chinese-Americans, read books by Chinese-Americans – both fiction and nonfiction – lurk on places like thisisnotchina so you can get a feel for what pisses Chinese and Chinese diaspora people off about their portrayal in the media, google for stereotypes about Chinese people and try to make sure you’re not doing those (even positive ones), go more general (East-Asian all-of-the-above in general since in many cases the harmful tropes overlap), go more specific (if your protagonist is female, look specifically for blog posts featuring the opiniosn of Chinese-American and other Asian/Asian diapora women; same if your protagonist is attracted to the same sex, is transgender, or deals with any other form of oppression besides anti-Chinese racism.) All of the above applies to Latinxs, Native Americans/Canadian First Nations, African/African diaspora people, Jews, Muslims, etc. Find out what we’re saying about ourselves.
Lots of things are available just from Google. “I have a Black character and I want to know what kind of hairstyles are available for her!” We have a Black hair tag, but apart from that, googling “Black hairstyles” will probably bring up some articles that can at least give you a good starting point to learn some vocabulary to add to your next Google search, like “natural” and “twists” and “dreadlocks.”
Next, you can talk to people in the group, but before you do this, be sure to have some specific questions in mind. “How do I write a Jewish character?” is not a specific question. “Do I have to make my Jewish character follow kosher laws if I’ve made her religious in other ways, or can she go to shul but not keep kosher?” or “What’s a term of endearment a parent might use for a child in Yiddish?” is much more specific. Remember, if you’re talking to someone they’re answering you back with their free time, so expecting them to do most of the work of figuring out what’s most important for you to know is a little entitled.
Besides, a more specific question will give you a more helpful answer. If someone asks me “how do I write a Jewish character” one of the first things out of my mouth will be a list of personality stereotypes to avoid, which isn’t going to be very helpful if what you really need for your fic was whether or not you have to write your character as following strict kosher laws.
If you’re sending a question in to a writing blog or one of those race blogs like thisisnot[whoever], please read through their tags and FAQ to see if they’ve already answered it. Longtime followers of a blog would get very bored if all the blog’s content was nothing but “We answered that here last week at this helpful link!” Those who participate in answering these blogs are usually unpaid volunteers who provide a resource that’s already there to help people; help repay them for what they do by looking through the material on your own first.
How to tell if a source from outside the group is biased and bigoted: obviously, you’re not going to want to listen to Stormfront about Jews, or the KKK about, well, anything. If you’re not on a source created by the group in question, look for dry and academic language as opposed to emotional, informal, or inflammatory words – although dispassionate and technical language is no guarantee it won’t be racist, colonialist, or inaccurate. If you read enough books and blogs from the inside, though, you’ll probably see some of the myths from those other sources debunked before you even encounter them.
Lastly, don’t assume that all people who are Asian, African-American Christians, religious Jews, or Muslims are from cultures more oppressive, more conservative, more patriarchal, more homophobic, more sexist, or more controlling than the one in which you were raised. If your plot calls for homophobic parents or a repressive culture, that shouldn’t be the reason you make your character one of the groups listed. There is plenty of oppressive, anti-woman, and anti-queer thought in white American Christian/Christian-cultured society and personally, I believe such criticisms of the marginalized diaspora peoples I listed above belong in the voices of the cultures themselves.
I’d not leave looking for dry and clinical information as the ONLY means to distinguish that a work is biased.
While yes it is pragmatic to say “look for academically toned wording,” … in addition to that, these folks really need to look into who the author is. Definitely look into the author. And the year the thing was published (because man if it’s from like the 60s or earlier, 9 times out of 10, throw that shit out).
Because people can disguise hatred and racism in careful diction so that it looks reasonable and polite. A shining example is physiognomy studies from Nazis and anti-Semite eugenecists. And the sad thing is, you really can’t trust people to read it and make the judgement call that this hate-in-disguise they’re reading is hate.
Somehow, when someone says, “The people of the Levant express features such as […] which, at the risk of sounding untoward, suggest a very rodent-like persuasion,” people are like, “Oh, well, that was worded fancily and there was no angry or profane language, I suppose they’re right,” not stopping to think even for a moment that they just accepted that this book just said to them that Jews look like rats. I saw it happen in my Nazi Germany class when we were given reading material. It was fucking nuts.
So definitely, definitely look every outsider author in the mouth and cross-check any and everything that person says.
Shira again: Elaney is right that you will want to be critical of outside sources, especially older ones. Also, be suspicious of blanket statements about a group such as “X group are” instead of discussing forces in X culture. For example. Because there’s going to be diversity within any group and it’s likely what’s being said isn’t inherently biologically linked to being in X group.
So as sometimes happens when something negative goes viral, bookish Twitter took action on Monday and responded to an anti-diversity rant that had gone up the night before with a powerful message—that we as a community support diverse narratives.
It began with an author asking people to raise their voices and support diversity and the marginalized in the process. The author later asked to become anonymous and people not connect them to the hashtag anymore, because the backlash against the positive hashtag that came out of it unfortunately brought loads of racists and hateful people into their mentions—another problem all on its own. The hashtag began as #IStandForDiversity, but later transitioned to #ISupportDiversity because the first hashtag was unintentional ableist, but important tweets were shared at both, so I’m going to share some here.
As Paul and Heidi said, one of the best ways to really support diverse books and marginalized authors is to buy books and request them at the library. So, of course, here are a couple book recommendation threads.
- Michael Waters on diverse YA releasing soon.
- Sam Taylor’s diverse book rec thread.
- Sam’s second diverse book rec thread.
- Julie C. Dao’s list of POC kidlit authors debuting in 2017.
- My #ownvoices book rec thread from August 30th.
- Marieke Nijkamp’s thread full of diverse books giveaways ending on 9/9!
- Ashley Herring Blake’s #ownvoices books giveaway ending on 9/13!
And, in conclusion:
So there you have it. Support with your voices, and more importantly with your bought and requested books. Because representation is so, so important and we’re just getting started.
Diversity is not enough.
We’re right to push for diversity, we have to, but it is only step one of a long journey. Lack of racial diversity is a symptom. The underlying illness is institutional racism. It walks hand in hand with sexism, cissexism, homophobia, and classism. To go beyond this same conversation we keep having, again and again, beyond tokens and quick fixes, requires us to look the illness in the face and destroy it. This is work for white people and people of color to do, sometimes together, sometimes apart. It’s work for writers, agents, editors, artists, fans, executives, interns, directors, and publicists. It’s work for reviewers, educators, administrators. It means taking courageous, real-world steps, not just changing mission statements or submissions guidelines.
Maybe the word hasn’t been invented yet – that thing beyond diversity. We often define movements by what they’re against, but the final goal is greater than the powers it dismantles, deeper than any statistic. It’s something like equity – a commitment to harvesting a narrative language so broad it has no face, no name.
We can love a thing and still critique it. In fact, that’s the only way to really love a thing. Let’s be critical lovers and loving critics and open ourselves to the truth about where we are and where we’ve been. Instead of holding tight to the same old, failed patriarchies, let’s walk a new road, speak new languages. Today, let’s imagine a literature, a literary world, that carries this struggle for equity in its very essence, so that tomorrow it can cease to be necessary, and disappear.
Shadowshaper – Daniel José Older (2015)
When I heard @danieljose reading from Shadowshaper during the first morning variety show of NerdCon: Stories this past weekend, in Minneapolis, Kevin MacLeod was providing live background music for this exhilarating scene of the book’s protagonist, Sierra Santiago, discovering some of the things she could do with her newfound ability to magically infuse her art with willing spirits, and it was GREAT. And I pretty much immediately ran to the Expo Hall and bought his book for my friend Moti, as a thank-you present for catsitting for me while I was away.
Of course I read it first.
Shadowshaper is incredibly fun and exciting and delightful and tense in all the right ways. It is full of smart, caring, fallible people who feel real, whether the stuff they’re dealing with is familiar (body image, crushes, owning your heritage) or unfamiliar (necromancy, animated murals, etc). The world Older builds is a riot of colour and movement and heart, rooted in contemporary Brooklyn and rooted deeper in the many traditions carried by the borough’s diverse inhabitants. The whole thing is shot through with magic that feels old, magic that feels vibrant and as incredibly full of life as the shadows that inhabit the corners of the world (”The dead were so alive! They carried their whole lives with them in those tall, walking shadows, brought each second, each thrill and tragedy with them wherever they went.”). There’s so much energy there that reading Shadowshaper feels like plunging into it, like being buoyed up by the same timeless force of life and love that surrounds the characters in the book’s most spiritual moments.
Also Sierra is a freaking badass and I love her.
She’s a badass like anybody would actually want to be a badass, like I would want to be a badass. She’s braver than she is careful, but she’s also got some pretty solid common sense, and is aided by a group of friends who refreshingly avoid the genre tropes of miscommunication and making dumb decisions. She carries this great power and loves it; even when it frightens and confuses her, she embraces it and what it means, and uses it to help others without feeling weighed down by the responsibility it brings. She has playful, positive relationships with most of the people around her, and even when she gets into disagreements with her family, the mutual care and respect there is always evident. It’s really really hard not to want to be Sierra Santiago. And I haven’t even mentioned the cute boy.
Older’s characters might make mistakes, and they might have disagreements, but I love how most of them actually want to do the right thing, and are often willing to listen to others to help them get there.There are moments where it might feel a little too neat, a little too ideal – Sierra’s judgment calls are almost always correct, and her friends believe and support her even when she comes at them with really unlikely supernatural shit and death-defying plans. But it’s still really refreshing to read about a bunch of caring and sensible teenagers, when the opposite is so overrepresented in fiction.
I’m going to finish off with a quick mention of the writing itself – it’s fantastic. Sierra’s voice is clear and honest, and the book gallops forward in a fluid idiom that draws me seamlessly into the life of this young Afro-Latina woman and her passion for art and her Bed-Stuy neighbourhood. I’m really excited that this was the first book I chose for my “read a book a month” project, because hell, if somehow I don’t end up feeling inspired to read any other things later, I can always devour the rest of Daniel José Older’s excellent stuff.
GO READ SHADOWSHAPER IT’S SO GREAT
Enough Space for Everyone Else is an anthology of sci-fi/space comics by diverse creators, about diverse characters, and spanning diverse tones and genres (specifically, no military, no imperialism, no war!).
We’re trying to fund it via Kickstarter (link here), and while we’ve gotten a lot of support so far, we are as of this writing less than halfway to our goal ($33,000) with only 11 days until the deadline (July 16). And reminder that the way Kickstarter works is, if you don’t get enough pledges to make your funding goal, you don’t get anything. So the existence of this book is literally relying on you.
This is crunch time.
All of the involved creators are independent artists and writers who, despite having talent out the wazoo, aren’t rich or famous, which can make it hard for us to get media attention. But this is a really fantastic project, and the work of all our contributors deserves to be published—so please, help make this book possible by pledging whatever you can afford and reblogging (not just liking!) this post.
Thank you so much! Your support means the
worldgalaxy to us!
As a contributor, I guarantee all of this is EXCEPTIONAL work, and it would be great to meet our goal and release more diverse stories into the world!
Even if you can’t donate, PLEASE help spread the word!
I’ve been hearing about this project for a while, and it’s exciting to see it coming to fruition. Signal boost!
Before you say, Write your own! – let me tell you that we do. But this page is a resource for writers, so we thought writers might want to know what kinds of representation would make us more likely to get excited about your book. We don’t speak for everyone in our demographic, just ourselves, but we hope this post gives you some cool writing ideas.
Note: This is additional info writers can keep in mind
when writing characters of those backgrounds. We believe it’s a good
thing to ask the people you’re including what they’d like to see.
hearing from misrepresented and underrepresented people and asking us
what we’d like to see of ourselves is much better than unthinkingly tossing
characters into tired tropes or reinforcing stereotypes that do us harm.
Colette (Black): More Black people doing shit! Going on adventures, riding dragons, being magical! More Black characters in prominent roles in fantasy + sci-fi and historical settings and not always and only as slavess. These stories are important, but they’re NOT our only stories. We were kings and queens too. Let us wear the fancy dresses for a change instead of the chains, damn it!
More Black girls being portrayed as lovely and treasured and worth protecting. More Black girls finding love. More Black girls in general who aren’t relegated to arc-less, cliche “Sassy best friends” and “strong black women.”
More positive, dynamic roles of Black men (fathers, brothers, boys…) More positive, dynamic family roles of Black families as a whole, families that are loving and supportive and there. More Black people from all socioeconomic classes. More Black characters that don’t rely on the stereotypes that the media is currently going full force to reinforce.
Yasmin (Arab, Turkish): More Arabs who aren’t token characters. I want to see Arabs normalised in literature. Arab teenagers in high school, Arab young adults behind on their taxes, Arab dads who cook amazing food, Arab moms who refuse to soften their tongue for others. Arabs who aren’t mystical fantasy creatures from another planet. Arabs in YAs and in dramas and nonfiction and comedies and children’s books. We are human just like everyone else, and I’d like to see that reflected in literature. Often we are boxed into very specific genres of literature and made to feel ostracised from the rest. Let’s see some change!
Alice (Black, biracial): I’m hoping for more Black and biracial (mixed with Black) leading characters in all genres, but mainly in SF/F who fall outside of the stereotypes. Characters I can relate to who love, cry and fight for their ideals and dreams. It would be great if their race would play an active role in their identities (I don’t mean plot-related). Some intersectionality with sexuality and disability is also sorely missed, without it becoming a tragedy or it being seen as a character flaw. More mixed race characters who aren’t mixed with some kind of monster, fictional race or different species. Dystopias about problems usually faced by poc having actual poc protags, without all the racial ambiguity which always gets whitewashed.
Shira (Jewish): More Jewish characters who feel positively about their Judaism and don’t carry it around as a burden or embarrassment. While the latter is definitely a real part of our experience due to anti-Semitism and all we’ve been through as a people, the fact that it overrepresents us in fiction is also due to anti-Semitism, even internalized. (Basically, Jews who don’t hate Judaism!)
More brave, heroic characters who are openly Jewish instead of being inspired by the Jewish experience and created by Jews (like Superman) or played by Jews (Captain Kirk) but still not actually Jewish. I’m tired of always being Tolkien’s Dwarves; I’d like a chance to play Bard, Bilbo, or even Gandalf’s role in that kind of story.
Elaney (Mexican): While we’re discussing what sort of representation we’d like to see, I am using the word “latinista” and I want to quickly address that since you may have not seen it before: “-ista” is a genderless suffix denoting someone is from an area (“Nortista”, a northerner), or who practices a belief (“Calvinista”, a calvinist), or a professsion (you’ve heard ‘barista’). I find it more intuitively pronounceable than “latinx” and also more friendly to Spanish, French, and Portugueze pronunciation (and thus more appropriate), personally, so I invite you to consider it as an alternative. If you don’t like it, well, at least I showed you.
1. I want legal Latinista immigrants. The darker your skin is down here, the more likely you are to be assumed to be illegal by your peers, and I want media to dilute this assumption so many have of us.
2. I want Latinistas who are well educated, not just smart, and I mean formally educated, with college degrees, professional skillsets, and trained expertise. Being in fields which do not require a formal degree is no less legitimate of a lifestyle than being in a field which requires a PhD, but I want you to consider when casting your Latinista character that We, as a people, are assumed to be little more than the drop-out and the janitor by our peers, and People Of Color in scientific fields are mistaken as assistant staff rather than the scientists that they are. I want media to dilute this assumption.
3. I want Latnistas who are not marketed as “Latin American” but as their actual country of origin, because “Latin America” is a conglomerate of individual entities with their own, distinct cultures and if you are, for example, Cuban, then Mexican characters may appeal to you but they don’t have the same relatability as fellow Cuban characters. Wouldn’t you be a little more interested, too, to pick up a book that’s about a character who lives where you do rather than about a character who lives somewhere in general?
4. I want rich or well-to-do Latinistas. Looking back, I notice that several of the character concepts that have been bounced off of us with regards to Latinista characters incorporate poverty despite an astronomical and diligent work ethic. I don’t think this is on purpose but I do think that it is internalized because so often the stereotype of us is poor and uneducated in a vicious cycle (uneducated because we’re poor, poor because we’re uneducated) and I think that there should be more media to dilute this.
Lastly, I personally do not want these tropes to be explored and subverted by people, I want them to be avoided entirely because I feel that normalizing positive representation rather than commenting on negative representation is far more beneficial and validating to the people these works are supposed to help and represent. We don’t need sympathy, we need empathy!
Jess (Chinese, Taiwanese): Stories that don’t center around the identity of being Chinese-American. That doesn’t mean “erase any references to protag’s Chinese identity” but I’d definitely like stories that have us go on awesome adventures every now and then and don’t have the Chinese character being all “I AM CHINESE” from beginning to end.
Please round out the Chinese migrant parents instead of keeping them as strict and/or traditional. PLEASE. I could go into how my parents and the Chinese aunties and uncles here are so awesome, seriously, and we need more older Chinese migrant characters who are awesome and supportive and just people. Also! EAST ASIAN GIRLS WHO AREN’T SKINNY AND/OR PETITE. Please. PLEEEEEASE. And more stories about Taiwanese and Chinese folks who aren’t in bicoastal regions (the Midwest, the Plains, etc.) WE EXIST.
More Chinese-Americans who aren’t necessarily Christian. Maybe it’s because of the books I’ve wound up reading, but there seems to be this narrative of Chinese migrants joining churches and converting when they’re in the US. This doesn’t mean I want less Chinese-American Christians in fiction, mind: I’d also just like to see more Chinese families in the US who are Buddhist or who still keep up with the traditions they learned from their homelands, like me, without having it considered in the narrative as ~old fashioned~ or ~ancient~ or ~mystical~. Tangentially, when writing non-Christian Chinese families, I’d rather people keep the assumption of Communism being the underlying reason why far, far away. I have been asked in the past if Communism was why my family didn’t go to church, and needless to say, it’s really, really offensive.
Stella (Korean): I’d love to see more Korean (and Asian-American) characters that don’t perpetuate the super-overachieving, stressed-out, only-cares-about-succeeding Asian stereotype. These Koreans exist (I would know; I went to school with quite a few of them) but they don’t represent all of us. I want to see more Korean characters solving mysteries, saving the world and having fun. More Koreans that aren’t pale, petite, and a size 2. Not all of us have perfect skin or straight black hair or monolids. And some of us love our short legs, round faces and small eyes!
And fewer stoic&strict Korean parents, please. So many of us grew up with loud, wacky, so-embarrassing-but-endearing parents!
Recently, there’s been quite a few novels with Korean American female protags (particularly in the YA section) that deal with being in high school, dealing with strict parents, getting into college, and boys. Lots of boys! I think it’s awesome that there are more books with KA protags, and I’m so so so glad they’re out there. But I also recognize that those are definitely not the kind of books I would have read as a teenager, and it’s not the kind of book I want to read now. I want to see more Korean characters that are queer, trans, ace, bisexual. More Korean characters that are disabled or autistic or have mental illnesses. More Korean characters in fantasy, SFF, mystery! Heck, space operas and steampunk Westerns. I want it all! :DDDD
A lot of Korean-Americans struggle with their identity. It’s hard to balance things sometimes! But I’d love to see more stories that *aren’t* overtly about Korean-Americans dealing with their racial identity or sexual orientation, but stories about Koreans saving princesses and slaying trolls and commandeering spaceships. I want a plot that doesn’t center on Korean-American identity, but on a Korean-American character discovering themselves. White characters get to do it all the time; I want Korean characters to have a turn.
And honestly, I just want to see more Asians in media, period. South Asians, Southeast Asians, Central Asians! Thai, Hmong, Tibetan, Filipino, Vietnamese characters. Indian characters! There’s so much diversity in Asia and among Asian diaspora. I want us to be more than just ~~mystical~~ characters with ancient wisdom and a generic Asian accent. We’ve got boundless oceans of stories within ourselves and our communities, and I can’t wait for them to be told.
I would also love to see more multiethnic Asian characters that are *not* half white. It seems to be the default mixed-race Asian character: East Asian and white. But so many of my friends have multiethnic backgrounds like Chinese/Persian, Thai/Chinese or Korean/Mexican. I have Korean friends who grew up in places like Brazil, Singapore and Russia. Did you know that the country with the largest population of Koreans (outside of Korea) is actually China?
And while I’m at it, I’d love to see more well-translated works from Asia in the US. Like, how awesome would it be to have more science fiction, fantasy, and historical novels from Asia that are easily accessible in English? SUPER awesome!!
Kaye (Muslim): I am so hungry for Muslim representation, because there is so little of it. You can see one or two (YA) titles I currently think or have heard are good representation on the shelves – notably, Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars – on an AMA I did the other day for /r/YAwriters.
However, I’d just love to see stories where Muslim characters go on adventures like everyone else!
I’ve been saying recently that I’d LOVE to see a cozy mystery. Or a series of Muslim historical romances a la Georgette Heyer (there are a LOT of Muslim girls who love romances, and I’m just starting to get into the genre myself!). I’d love to see Muslim middle grade readers get girls who find secret passages, solve mysteries, tumble through the neighborhood with their dozen or so cousins.
I have a lot of cousins and thus I always have a soft spot for cousins. And siblings.
I’m looking forward to Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham because Jen is writing Scarlett as a detective a la Veronica Mars. And she’s Somali-American. How cool is that?!
Let’s see some classic road trip YA with Muslims. Let’s see comedies with quirky characters – for instance, I know one or two tween Muslim girls who are driving their moms MAD by suddenly turning vegetarian and refusing to touch the celebratory biryani at family Eid parties, who join relevant societies at their schools and start preaching to their extended families about the benefits of going vegetarian and all the funny little interactions that are involved with that. Let’s have a story with some wise-cracking African American Muslim girls.
My cousin is a niqaabi who loves YA and hates that she doesn’t see herself in it. Let’s see some stories with teen niqaabis! Let’s explore the full, joyful spectrum of diversity in Islam. Let’s have stories where we talk about how one word in Bengali is totally different in another language, and one friend is hilariously horrified and the other friend doesn’t know what he/she said.
I want to see joy. I want to see happiness. Being a woman of color and a hijaabi often means facing so many daily, disheartening scenarios and prejudice and hatefulness. So many of the suggested tropes recently in the inbox focus on trying to force Muslim characters into beastly or haraam or just sad and stereotypical scenarios. I know that writers are better and have bigger imaginations than that.
You want angst? Push aside the cold, unkind, abusive Muslim parents trope. Let’s talk about the Muslim girls I know who have struggled with eating disorders. Let’s talk about Islamophobia and how that is a REAL, horrible experience that Muslim kids have to fear and combat every day. Let’s approach contemporary angst without the glasses of the Western gaze and assumptions about people of the Islamic faith on.
We can have Muslim novels that focus on growing pains like Sarah Dessen and Judy Blume (and speaking of that, my “auntie” who used to teach in a madrasah used to press Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret on the Muslim girls she knew because of how Margaret approached growing up and had concerns about her faith and her relationships, etc.)
Having Shia friends, I would like to see more stories that aren’t just assumed to be Sunni. How about stories about Su-Shi kids, too? (Sunni and Shia – the name always surprises me!) Let’s see some Muslim-Jewish friendships. Because they exist.
And of course, I always, always hunger for Muslim voices first. Because it’s so important to have these voices there, from the source, and some of the issues with answering here at WWC is how people seem to be approaching certain tropes that a Muslim writer could explore with the nuance and lived experience of their faith behind it.
Some Self Portraits by Women Artists:
- Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian, 1530-1625), Self Portrait at the Easel Painting a Devotional Panel, 1556
- Judith Leyster (Dutch, 1609-1660), Self Portrait, ca. 1630
- Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755-1842), Self Portrait in a Straw Hat, after 1782
- Marie-Gabrielle Capet (French, 1761-1818), Self Portrait, c. 1783
- Zinaida Serebriakova (Russian, 1884-1967), At the Dressing Table – Self Portrait, 1909
- Nasta Rojc (Croatian, 1883-1964), Self Portrait, 1912
- Tamara de Lempika (Polish, 1898-1980), Self Portrait in the Green Bugatti, 1925
- Leonor Fini (Argentine-French, 1908-1996), Self Portrait with Scorpion, 1938
- Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954), Self Portrait, 1945
- Yana Movchan (b. in Kiev, Ukraine, 1971), Beautiful Me (Self Portrait)
dont leave out my girl artemisia gentileschi
Since this post is very dominated by self-portraits of white women, I feel it is imperative to share these as well:
[Black Artist Completing a Portrait of a White Female Aristocrat; Brazil. Early 1700s]
[S.B. Syed Dabhol; Adding Watercolor to a Photograph. India, c. 1920]
[FaTma WaGdi; RukaLiza!/The Egyptian Mona Lisa]
and in addition, to point out that Self Portraits of Color is another tumblr that no one should be missing out on!! Here’s a selection of self portraits from women of color on that blog:
Amrita Sher Gil; Self-Portrait. France/Hungary/India (1933)
Baljit Balrow; Self-Portrait with Union Jack. UK (2009)
Maya Christina Gonzalez; I Frame Myself. US (1997)
Also of note: Women in the Act of Painting (blogspot)
okay so russell t davis has done a version of a midsummer nights dream that’s currently on bbc1 and not only is it set in a radical dictatorship which is super cool, with hippolyta, oberon, puck, hermia, demetrius and a number of the main mechanicals and fairys all played by poc, but:
Anyone who thinks that this is somehow not in the spirit of the original is being incredibly disingenuous
Intriguing!!! I would love to see this. I’m curious how the plot changes will affect the story, but it’s probably going to be fun and I’m glad it exists.
I’m very excited that creative projects that embrace diversity are becoming more and more frequent! It’s sort of unconscionable that the world on my screen or stage or page often doesn’t even bother to represent the world I live in (or offer fictional alternatives anchored in something else than a white/cis/straight/[usually male] default), so I’m all for more varied perspectives and diverse stories.
We still have very far to go, but every time I see a project like this take flight I feel encouraged that people care about some of the same things I do!
And a lot of us on the crew are not straight and are not white, and these topics don’t seem like adult topics to us, because they were part of our experience growing up. The more I work on this show, the more incredible it seems to me that these topics are not usually discussed in media for kids. Kids not only get it, many of them are experiencing it themselves, sometimes with no context to tell them their experience makes sense, and almost always without a fun sci-fi fantasy take on that experience featuring wacky cartoon aliens. I’d really like to rectify that.
I’m reading some fat fantasy book set in Yet Another Faux Medieval Europe. Nothing in this story jibes with my understanding of actual medieval Europe. There’s no fantasy version of the Silk Road bringing spices and agricultural techniques and ideas from China and India and Persia. There’s been no Moorish conquest. There aren’t even Jewish merchants or bankers, stereotypical as that would be.
Everyone in this “Europe” looks the same but for minor variations of hair or eye color. They speak the same language, worship the same gods — and everyone, even the very poor people, seems inordinately concerned with the affairs of the nobility, as if there’s nothing else going on that matters. There are dragons and magic in the story, but it’s the human fantasy that I’m having trouble swallowing.
It doesn’t matter which book I’m reading. I could name you a dozen others just like it. This isn’t magical medieval Europe; it’s some white supremacist, neo-feudalist fantasy of same, and I’m so fucking sick of it that I put the book down and open my laptop and start writing. Later people read what I’ve written and remark on how angry the story is.
Gosh, I wonder why.
N. K. Jemisin, “How Long ’til Black Future Month?”
(September 30th, 2013)
This essay definitely stands the test of three years, and I highly recommend reading the whole thing. It’s spectacular.
Fantastic essay full of so many good things, not the least of which is MAKING ME DISCOVER THE AMAZINGNESS THAT IS JANELLE MONAE?!!1one
Go read the article, watch the embedded video for “Tightrope”, and feel the weight lift off your shoulders. Posthaste!