Hey babe are you a hippogriff? Because I need to respect you before I mount you
Saying race doesn’t matter is an argument I am getting extremely tired of, because one never hears this about white characters (“why would you tell the reader she’s white, does her race really matter?”). This is an instance of writing colorblind, which really is no better than not writing diversity at all. The crux of this argument is that white is default, and any varying from the default needs a plot-sanctioned reason to be different. This is not true.
Race is an important part of what makes a person who they are—it should not be erased or straight-up ignored. At the same time, it also doesn’t need to be a “very special episode about race” issue with every POC you write. Characters can be of any race without it having to be a central part of their story, and their race will still inform who they are.
- On white writers getting trashed for writing white or for writing diverse
- Is race that big a deal if it’s not central to the plot?
- White writers having POC characters
- How to write “real” POC characters
- "Racist writing is a craft issue."
- It’s just easier to make everyone white, why is that bad?
- Headless on why and how to include diversity
- Basically our entire race tag
Short answer: Diversify your cast and never, ever feel like you have to justify why a character is of a certain race. Race doesn’t need a reason, and anyone who thinks that race has to be explained in order to earn a place in a story is wrong.
My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfillment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility.
And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.