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Racism/Prejudism

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Drifter One, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. Drifter One

    Drifter One Acolyte

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    Bit of a taboo subject this...

    I think racial tensions and prejudice make for interesting characters and conflict. Although I think in reality it is a terrible and disgusting thing, it does create great conflict in a story. Mine has a lot of this due to differing beliefs and cultures, but how do you get iti into a story without offending?

    Cheers
     
    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I don't think you should worry to much about offending. Write your story realistically. Have the characters behave as they should naturally.

    As long as your not trying to glorify or justify racial prejudice, you should be fine.
     
    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Also, run it by some beta readers to make sure you don't accidentally step on some toes you didn't see.
     
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  4. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I think part of it is in understanding that racism/prejudice is a bad thing, and even good people can fall prey to it, but in the end it can be overcome. I have undertones of this in WINTER'S QUEEN; the human MC was raised to fear and hate the Fae, all because one of them tried and failed to kidnap her as a baby. Then she is successfully kidnapped by a different Fae at the start of the story and finds herself among a whole castle full of them.

    The successful kidnapper is the villain, and her hatred of him is 100% justified; he's not just abusive toward her, but he's also plotting murder. The one who failed to kidnap her, by contrast, I portray as more sympathetic and a victim of circumstance; he was very mentally unstable at the time of the attempt, and while it was done for selfish reasons, he had no intention of actually hurting the MC. He only wanted to adopt and raise her as his child. Once he recognizes who the MC is and what his actions resulted in, especially psychological trauma on the part of the MC's father, he is very repentant.

    There are also other Fae who are clearly good at heart and want to help the MC and her family in various ways, thus proving "evil, child-stealing Fae" to be a highly inaccurate depiction of the people as a whole. The MC and her family grow to understand this over the course of the story.
     
  5. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    I think that nothing is too much when writing - it's fiction! But I would like to ask you what sort of racism/prejudice are you referring to in your writing? Is it skin colour as in the real world, Asian vs. Caucasian, something with roots in the real world? Or is it something only in your world?

    In my current project I have tons on prejudice and racism - the two races are not on great terms, they have conflicting beliefs and systems. They share a religion, but it is deciphered differently so that creates more tension. All this leads towards political problems, religious zealotry etc. I am basing the major conflict in my book on that. So I don' think it can be too much.
     
  6. Drifter One

    Drifter One Acolyte

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    Interesting responses.

    My contention is two fold, religion and race. Usual stuff really, just because I know it is unfortunately is real, and therefore makes for believable story telling. Class prejudice also plays a major part.
     
  7. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    Then I don't think you have to worry. Those things are always present in fantasy.

    Sent from my HTC Desire 820 using Tapatalk
     
  8. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    It's only taboo when you take a certain stance on it. Otherwise it's just the same old persecution story.
     
  9. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    I think it depends on who your audience is and what they'll accept.

    My stories are pretty full of examples of prejudice and while I've no intention of glorifying it, I wouldn't call my WIP exactly critical of it either. Its just a thing that is in my world and its not always directly related to the plot (that's not to say it serves no purpose, because it definitely does). My point is I feel like I can get away with certain things because I'm writing gritty adult fantasy. There's a very different standard for children and YA literature and rightfully so.
     
    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  10. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    Use the narrative to establish the tensions that exist between different groups then have characters display some of the prejudice and misconceptions. Remember some of the prejudice/misconceptions may show the "others" in a positive light such as saying all Asians are good at math or all Blacks run fast.
     
  11. DeathtoTrite

    DeathtoTrite Troubadour

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    Yeah, just make it clear you're not promoting it. You don't even have to come out and be like "and MC realized the evils of racism," just don't glorify it. Frankly, nothing is more annoying than the author using plots as mouthpieces for their views, especially when its as something as clearly black and white as racism.
     
  12. HellionHeloise

    HellionHeloise Scribe

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    I think character development is key here. If you're able to build rich characters of different races and include descriptions, background, etc. of the different cultures, then it's not a problem. I also think it's an important subject to address & makes for an interesting story that feels real.
     
  13. Scribe Lord

    Scribe Lord Minstrel

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    Can someone explain to me how one would glorify racism or prejudice in a novel?

    Say my MC is raised in a culture where racism is merely the norm. While this doesn't hold any major position in the plot, he does on rare occasions act racist and attempts to argue and justify it. By the end of the story he neither changes his views nor is 'punished' in any way for them. Am I guilty?
     
  14. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    You can have a bigoted character act like a racist would and be fine. That's the kind of person they are. Ugly as it may be, we know people like that exist, past & present.

    However, if you somehow made your society out as an example of rightness, a somehow perfect utopia because a superior race enslaved a race they view as inferior...well that might be glorification.

    It really depends on how you execute the story.
     
  15. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    But racism isn't black-and-white. Well, clearly, yes, it's not a good thing, but the fact of the matter is, what racism is varies by where and who you are. Example: Back when Luis Suárez played for Liverpool, he had a minor altercation with Patrice Evra in which Evra told Suarez, "Don't touch me, you South American" and Suarez sarcastically retorted with "¿Por qué, negrito?" Suarez was banned by the FA for several matches for racism, while no discipline was handed to Evra, to the outrage of Latin Americans, particularly Uruguayans. From a Latin American point of view, the usage of "negrito" does not translate to using the n-word, because the Spanish "negro" is just a neutral term for black people (or black anything, really) and the diminutive "-ito" is usually done as a term of endearment, and this is probably what Suárez was going for, mock endearment. On the other hand, the accusative "you South American" did sound like a race term, exacerbated by the Latin American media translating it to "sudaca", which is pretty much the South American equivalent of the n-word. On the English side of things, "South American" is not a race, so they thought Evra using it was not racist, and they equated Suárez using "negrito" to Suárez calling him a (bleep). Ergo, the FA ruled in favour of Evra and punished Suárez only. Then there were people who thought both had been racist, and it raised the question of whether a racist retort to a racist remark is okay, or to what degree, or whatever. It's not as black-and-white as you say.
     
  16. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Racism is a tricky word because it is essentially a modern one, for the whole concept of "race" differs in important ways from the way the word was used a thousand years ago. The OP mentioned he had different cultures and beliefs, which in itself does not imply racism. So the real question has to be, what is this tension and how is it represented in the story?

    I write historical fantasy. So, for example, my Romans are naturally prejudiced against "barbarians". They regard barbarians as different not only in language and custom, but also as a different people--a different "nation" to use the Latin equivalent. Right through the Middle Ages, people regarded other peoples as constituting a different race (e.g, the Slavs, the Germans, the English, the Moors). The language regarding this was not rigorous. But it would be a mistake to regard this as the medieval equivalent of modern racism.

    My first instinct, when hearing an author talk about this, is to wince, because I think the author will be injecting modern (Western) sensibilities into a fantasy setting. I realize this is practically a sub-genre in its own right, but it's not one I enjoy reading. Usually. It's not that I'm offended, it's that if I'm looking for socio-cultural "realism" I'll turn to a genre other than fantasy.
     
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