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  1. Unripe Plum

    Unripe Plum Member

    Oct 31, 2016
    Likes Received:

    Help with Hispanic character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Unripe Plum, Nov 1, 2016.

    An important side-character in a light comedy I'm writing is a gay Hispanic man, living on a US college campus (he's a citizen and grew up in the country). I don't want to make him talk like a stereotypical Latino, nor do I want him to be so assimilated that the only thing Hispanic about him is his name/skin color. This is mainly with regard to his style of speech, but other mannerisms, cultural preferences/habits, and subtle personality traits also.
    So my questions are:
    1) Should I change his race because I don't know the culture well enough to portray it in an authentic, fair manner?
    2) If no, how do I find the fine line between cultural authenticity and offensive stereotyping?
    3) If he stays Hispanic, what little characteristics can I give him to make him believable?
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

    Jun 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    SC, USA
    1) That's one option. The other is research.
    2) Research.
    3) Something to research. We're on the internet - I'm sure there are tons of blogs curated by Latino guys (even gay Latino guys) that could give you pointers! You really want to go to the source for this type of thing, not ask other writers.
  3. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

    Mar 17, 2013
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    My husband is half-Bulgarian, so Bulgaria is in small ways present in his life. Sometimes it's certain words he uses (instead of feta cheese, he says sirane), the cuisine we make (tarator, shopska), the desserts he likes (baklava), even sayings (e.g. if I sneeze, he'd say 'bless you' in Bulgarian), the items and products we have at home like rose water and olive oil, and so on, so if you can identify little things like that are "remnants" from Mexico or wherever he's from, they could add subtle authenticity. So you could start by identifying the region he's from and then find people who are from that area to get some ideas of how his ethnicity and culture would manifest itself in his daily life.

    Otherwise, whether he's Hispanic, Native American, Middle-Eastern, whatever, his personality is up to you to craft. While culture does mold us to a degree, we're all still of one race, the human race. I can identify certain "Mediterranean" personality traits in my father and sister in law as they are very fiery personalities, but on the other hand someone who isn't from that region could have similar traits as well.
  4. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Jun 5, 2016
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    There's no one right way to write a Hispanic character (or any other ethnicity, really) because the term covers so many different people with completely disparate experiences.

    Where is his family from? Mexico? Puerto Rico? El Salvador? How far back did his family immigrate? Is he first generation American, or has his family lived in the U.S. for generations? What kind of neighborhood was he raised in? Was it a mostly Hispanic community, or was it more diverse? How closely does he relate to his culture and ethnic identity? Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions will assist you in adding characteristics that this specific Hispanic man has.

    As far as making sure you're not stereotyping, I would seek out books written by authors who are known to handle Hispanic characters realistically and respectfully, and pay close attention to what they do and more importantly what they avoid doing. And as mentioned above, researching and reaching out to individuals in the community is time worth spent. I am very lucky to have a diverse circle of online friends and acquaintances that I can run things by when writing characters who are people of color.
    izzybot likes this.

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