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Race Issue

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Sidewinder, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder Ours is the Fury

    Well, I'm wondering about the correctness of a situation/description that I'm going to be having soon. I'm gradually introducing a character in my fic, and now that he has appeared to the main two characters I have a small issue.

    Basically, one character thinks this new character is someone else, but the other character corrects him by saying it couldn't possibly be him because this new character is of a different race. I'm trying to figure out a way to get into this without offending anyone by being blunt in my description of him in the chapter. The character is black, african-american, and so on. But as I was writing my description of him from the POV of one of the characters, my wife looked over and saw that I used the word 'black' to describe him. She didn't think that was appropriate, but I don't really have a problem with it. Here's the scene in question :

    "I'm telling you Shelton, it was him, it was Bernard," Dorian explained.

    "Unless he's undergone some sort of extreme skin pigment alteration, it wasn't, the guy that attacked us was black."

    Personally, I don't see a problem with that seeing as how I'm just describing the character's skin color, but she does, well, I just think she doesn't want me to offend anyone. I don't think I will, but I can't use the traditional terms for describing races like we do in our world because in my version of the Pokemon world, our continents and countries don't exist. So usually where I would say african-american, I can't. To be honest I don't think calling someone who's black, black in a fic will offend anyone, but at the same time I didn't feel the need to openly say in my descriptions of my three main characters that they were white.

    Any ideas/thoughts? lol
  2. Manna

    Manna Rockin' the Suburbs

    This black female says it's fine. Don't sweat it too much.

    As I said in a similar thread, it all depends on the context, and from what I'm reading I don't see any negative connotations. Go ahead.
  3. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder Ours is the Fury


    I appreciate the reply. I didn't think it would be that big of an issue, but at the same time I just don't want to sway anyone from reading my fic because they were offended by my choice of description. Thanks for the input :)
  4. Glover

    Glover Pain in Rocket side

    Its good to be cautious, but let's go the other way with it: How many times do you check in a Census/Job App/Loan/etc "White-Caucasian" to describe yourself. Don't feel offended?

    While your beta is right to an extent, it tends to come down to context. Here at least, I don't see any different between saying "he was black" and "we were attacked by a white guy." yeah, there is a bit of a line to be observent of, but you are observant of it and that should be fine
  5. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder Ours is the Fury

    Excellent point, and that's a very clever way of showing it to me lol

    As long as I'm not negatively portraying a different race for a reason that's unjust, there shouldn't be a problem. For this character (Marco, for those of you that follow my fic), making that distinction of his skin tone goes a long way in helping readers affirm their suppositions on the character's appearance, which I don't think is a bad thing at all

    Thanks buddy
  6. Sid87

    Sid87 I love shiny pokemon

    I'm not a minority, so I can't claim to know anything here firsthand, but I can say the black friends I have wouldn't have any issue with this at all. It's something people would say, and--quite frankly--it's a way to let the reader know the new character is black without being blatant in narration (which is harder than you might think).
  7. ChloboShoka

    ChloboShoka Writer

    My teacher told me that using the word coloured for black people wasn't an accepted term and should just say black.
  8. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Yeah, it seems kind of silly for someone to be offended by a black character being referred to as black. o_O (But still, good to have checked before posting, just to be sure.) There's not really any other word you could even use. African-American is wordy, and kind of silly when, well...none of the characters are American. And America doesn't exist. Or Africa, for that matter. (Now, if the real-world continents do exist in your Pokemon World, that's different, but the characters still are probably not American.)

    It gets interesting when we consider other races, though. "Black" and "white" are just colors, and work fine in a fantasy world, but what about geographically named races? You can't very well call someone Asian in a world that has no Asia. It makes even less sense when you consider that being an anime, the majority of the characters in Pokemon are supposed to be Japanese (or...y'know...the Pokemon world equivalent thereof) so being Asian would be the majority in that case (if you have a story set in Japan, it's kind of silly to point out that a character is Japanese. They all probably are.)

    I ran into this problem in my fic several revisions ago. I had a character based off a friend of mine who was Hispanic, and originally I described him as that. Then I eventually decided that within the context of the Pokemon world, that was kind of dumb, and just went with a literal description (tan skin, dark hair/eyes.) It's not as descriptive because it doesn't give the same kind of facial structure information, but I figure it works. So now I tend to go with literal descriptions for all races and if someone is fair-skinned, say so, and if someone is dark-skinned, say so, since using the real-world terms just feels off.

  9. Kaiserin

    Kaiserin please wake up...

    In general, it is about connotation and narration. You could probably even get away with a character saying some explicitly racist things, as long as you clearly depicted it as "this is racist and bad, even if no one calls him for it in the story."

    But yeah, that's really just telling it like it is with a dash of sarcasm mixed in. I guess to be on the safe side with social justice warriors, you might want to emphasize the sarcasm in that second line, but it sounds pretty good as far as I can tell.
  10. Glover

    Glover Pain in Rocket side

    An interesting, and nearly entirely unrelated point you bring up. Although depending on what Canons you want to use, Places like the Amazon do show up, especially in Pokedex bios. Although the argument can be made that these are more for referencial purposes than anything else, you could very well make an argument that even if the PKMN world Is different from our own, there might still be an "Amercia", (since the name origins don't have to change neccesarily) the continent Orre and Unova (Being based on Arizona, albeit one from a sci-fi realm where California fas fallen into the sea, and New York, respectively) are based in/on/around, even though it looks nothing like our own. Similarly, the "Pacific" may well be the body of water between Kanto and Orre/whatever's beyond the left side of the map of Unova that we don't yet see, the "Amazon" is a large forest somewhere, etc.

    Sorry, Sidewinder. I'll let you have your thread back now.

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