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  1. Steak-Ums
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    Steak-Ums Member

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    Why aren't black people in fantasy?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Steak-Ums, Oct 26, 2007.

    And when we are, how come we're some kind of tribesman or something? The only fiction blacks are prominent in is Urban fiction, with the 'crack dealer and good girl' storylines. Bulls*** if you ask me.

    Tell the truth people of the forum:

    When have you ever considered your MC being black? (And it can't be one of those black youths growing up in the ghetto tales either.
     
  2. Weaselword
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    Weaselword Banned

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  3. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I don't write fantasy, so I can't say anything. Although I don't think about race or color when I write stuff, I just see what fits the story and that's all really.
     
  4. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Check my profile picture.

    Anyway, here's a story relating to Earthsea by the author herself: TV Earthsea

    In my fantasy/science fiction stories, everyone has basically cross-bred to the point that they are of a bronze complexion.
     
  5. secularzarathustra
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    secularzarathustra Member

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    If you want about the best sword and sorcery fantasy, think a post-modern Robert Howard!, you definitely must check out Samuel Delany's Neveryon series. They are spectacular, and he is a fantastic writer, a novelist and professor whose technique matches his imagination and story telling ability. The main character in the Saga is black, many characters are black. There are also other prominent characters from groups rarely represented; for example, many of the characters are gay or bi- (who are also denied prominent places in much genre fiction), and are really well developed for an high fantasy set at civilization's advent.

    P.S. Delany is the author of Dhalgren. I met him a few times, and my wife was a student of his, so trust me. You will not be able to put down whatever you pick up by him.

    Its funny what people come to expect in fantasy. The cover of one of the editions of his books shows a swarthy and Fabio-esque, shirtless hero sword at side. The text describes the character as having a receding hairline, heavy acne scars, a massive beer belly, and not even knowing how to use a sword nor do violence.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I wrote a short story "Blue" for a contest here. The main character's close friend Greg, a business colleague who provided wise advice, was black in my mind's eye. I don't remember if I actually wrote down anything to make it obvious.

    A lot of the fantasy writing I see has norther European influences, and it's very true that positive black characters are somewhat scarce. I was always a bit uncomfortable that the fierce Southrons in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings were portrayed as they were.

    I think your point is unfortunately, and uncomfortably, valid.
     
  7. Skipdonahue
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    Skipdonahue Member

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    The fantasy novel I am writing that will be done and ready for submission next month has black people in it and, ironically, they are slave traders. They live in a robust, advanced, economically diverse society and are far from "tribesmen" as you say. One of my protagonists, who is not human, in the story takes one of them on as his best friend and cohort halfway through the novel. His name is Hubar, an escaped slave himself, who has a compassionate streak as strong as his build.

    I refer to them as "dark skinned".

    Do they speak ebonics? No. But they are black. *Shrug*

    Skip
     
  8. secularzarathustra
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    secularzarathustra Member

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    Why "ironically" they are slave traders? Africa has as long and institutionalized a history of slavery as anywhere. Also, a good portion of slaves traded in the modern manifestation during the European and American colonial days were in fact first traded by other Africans. Now, black slavers dealing exclusively with white chattel would be ironic.
     
  9. Skipdonahue
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    Skipdonahue Member

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    They trade in anything flesh. I guess it's more ironic being an American. We have the guilt of things we never did in our lifetime shoved down our throats day in and day out lol.

    You know, I found it funny, at the end of the movie, Amistad, that they left out the historical fact that the main slave character, after being freed, became a slave trader. Now THATS ironic ;)
     
  10. secularzarathustra
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    secularzarathustra Member

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    I see the irony totally :) You are exactly right. It actually makes me very interested in your project.
     
  11. Raven
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    Raven Banned

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    Correct me If I'm wrong (Which I aren't) isn't Seth from the Beast Master Brown. And Vulkan Primarch of the Salamanders (40K) is also Brown, as is benjamin Sisko from Star Trek Deep Space Nine And Blade from Blade.

    There are Brown characters all over the place. Perhaps the main issue is that most Fantasy stuff has been designed by white men who proberly don't actually think about it.

    Its a dodgy subject comparing coloured people to white people.

    Also I have never ever seen a black man or woman most of the coloured people I see are brown or very dark brown. In fact I have never seen a white person most of the none brown or asian coloured people I know are a kind of pink or tinted pink. Hmmmm I've never met a White Or Black person.
     
  12. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    A fantasy story I wrote had a black character who was fairly central to the story. I think it's all down to perception really...
     
  13. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bambi, did I tell you that you could write my biography?
     
  14. The Freshmaker
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    If you're so concerned about it, write your own.

    Personally, I don't know many people of African descent who write sci-fi/fantasy. And, at least in my experience, authors tend to identify with their own main characters. So there you go. It's not some scheme to keep the black man down.
     
  15. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    You didn't say I couldn't, Turkelton :p


    EDIT: Actually, it would be quite sad if you were only fairly central to your own biography...
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    shouldn't the question be, 'why don't black people write fantasy?'?... writers tend to write mc's that are at least close to their own race/background... i'm sure if black writers wrote fantasy, you'd see black heroes...
     
  17. Raven
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    Raven Banned

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    I could not have said it better myself.
     
  18. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    But couldn't it also be said that there are less Black writers of fantasy because many don't see anyone else in the community doing it? That will also lead to someone feeling that they need to fill the void, however, it has to be quite successful to do so. Somewhat like a Jackie Robinson.

    I'm African-American and I have a strong desire to write fantasy... so who knows? Maybe there won't be a need for this thread when I'm done? (Though, as I said, my characters aren't exactly Black.)
     
  19. Steak-Ums
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    Steak-Ums Member

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    Well I heard, and I'm not sure--this is word of mouth here-

    That characters that are MC's and black in genres where the black guy doesn't have to 'get out of the hood' are usually turned down. Or the effort of marketing doesn't go in. I think there are plenty of black fantasy writers out there.
     
  20. Lily
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    Lily Member

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    Almost all the fantasy I have read has brown people in it - but I haven't read very much fantasy. (Anyone read anything by George R.R. Martin?)
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Steak-Ums,

    I have to agree with what others have said. If you see a void in this regard, challenge yourself to fill it. Treat it as an opportunity!
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if next-to-no-one does it, it won't become publish-able!... fyi, there are both agents and presses that specialize in 'bringing along' black writers, so to say or imply that no one will accept such stuff is misleading, to put it mildly...

    regardless of the author's race, if a story featuring a black mc is good enough and the writing is good enough, it will be published and will find a race-crossing readership, as long as the whole book isn't peopled with only black characters and aimed only at black readers...
     
  23. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Amen. Take the challenge.
     
  24. ILTBY
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    ILTBY Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know if it's been mentioned, but what about Shepherd and Zoe from Serenity?
     
  25. Montag
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    Montag Senior Member

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    I have an african immigrant working opposite my current MC. He is funny and helps to keep him grounded. I didn't choose a black guy on purpose, he just fit in. He's based on a real guy I worked with.
     

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