This whole thread reminded me of when I was 6 years old and I didn't see the difference in people. I didn't see race or even notice that skin color meant 'race'. I grew up with friends from China, the Philippines, Black Americans, White Americans, Mexican-Americans.
Then one day, I was told for the first time that I was "black" and I had to figure out what that meant. I had to learn my culture and embrace it. I had to be it and fight for it. I turned into an angry black person. I thought everyone hated blacks. My mother and the culture I was in had successfully passed down its PTSD to me.
I was paranoid, afraid and stuck to my 'own' kind.
Then at 15 I moved to a new city and all the blacks there saw me as more "white" than black. I was excluded in some cultural things within the new neighborhood. I've even had my own mother use the race card on me. "You'll never understand what it means to be black, really black." I've had my grandfather curse me out. Calling me a "half-white motherfucker." In my life blacks brought up race with me more than whites did. I grew up hating that I was half-white. I felt dirty and ugly. On the flip side I also hated that I was black because it was after all the reason that other people thought I was unattractive also. At least that is what I was raised to believe.
Then I move to Japan and suddenly I'm (me). Then randomly depending on the gender they think I am, I'm Beyonce or Micheal Jackson. Because we all look a like right?
Depending on my clothes and make-up I look like the Crow to some people. But many people didn't even see me as black they just saw me as American. The whole race issues stopped being an issue at all. I saw people in Japan who were almost twice as dark as I am. I saw Japanese people with natural afros. I know a guy who seriously looks like Jimi Hendrix. It was like everything I had been raised to say was only for blacks was thrown out the window. People are stuck in the same world day in and day out and don't realize that humans are humans. We just create these stupid ideals but in reality it doesn't mean it's the best or the only option for you.
I've stopped trying to prove myself as anything because it was too much of a mind-fuck gone wrong to do so.
In the end I'm me. The sad problem that people have is when they try to fit themselves into being a race or a culture in the first place. I tried as hard as I could to be "black" but in reality that was something that was created by people who felt that something was missing in their own lives. They felt that their culture was being erased and controlled. In a desperate and some what violent attempt to re-claim who they felt they should be they forced themselves into living up to ideals that in reality don't apply. For example in some communities you're not black if you don't like hip-hop. Well does that mean my mother who is 60 isn't black because she listened to the Beatles in the 1960's, or my grandfather who is 90 and listens to fucking swing music like Count Basie, isn't black?
It's ridiculous and stupid standards to place on somebody.
To be human is to have an imagination and create who you want to be.
I look at the American black culture of the 1920's and 30's and think my god,Where did all the artists go? The dancers and free spirits? When did religion and the need to be BLACK come in and destroy our individuality as people in America? Telling us what to listen to, whom to love, what to wear, what to eat, how to dance etc. It's oppressive shit.
Writing about people though does take time, a lot of self reflection into your own personality and research. Who do you want your character to be? How do you want people to see and perceive that person in your story? Do they live in a racist environment where race is important or in a place where no one gives two shits?
Are people all about love and peace or is about war and oppression?
Is it religiously stifling or full of people who could cares less about those things?
I think that it really changes how a person will perceive their own skin color and the color of others. I never thought about being a skin color until I was told to care about it. Then I was told to be ashamed of it. Then I was told to hate other people for their individuality. In retro-spec, I see it as jealously and ignorance. People dislike themselves so much they need to vent their anger on the world around them.
They need to blame somebody for their own unhappiness. In reality it's just their own choices in life and frame of mind that keeps them under lock and key.
People complain that there isn't enough minorities being portrayed in stories. Some authors complain that they don't include certain races because they don't want to do an injustice to that certain group of people. All I can say is, if you don't like something, don't read it or watch it. If you think it could be better, then make something with your own fucking hands. Then complain to the networks and tell them to show your shit instead.
In the end all I can do is read about or talk to the people whom I want to write about. Sadly if it's about a culture I was not raised in or a time period in which I have no one to talk to about, it does get really difficult. I think that's when fantasy comes in handy as a genre.
If people don't like what you write then that isn't your problem. You can't please everyone. Trying to please everyone will just set you up for failure.
Remembering that is the hard part though...
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