Yeah, that's what I do. And that's what exhausts me, what makes many label me as histrionic or one of those Angry Women of Color who doesn't want white people writing diverse books. Inevitably, one way or another, the hurtful book will still continue to hurt me. I will be the Bad Guy. Sure, sometimes it can be fun, even vindicating, to be the Bad Guy. But, mostly, it eats at you. Because you know that calling out race-fail is ultimately worse than writing something racist. That's the lesson we're taught. Being a whistleblower often means you get the blowback.
So, I'm going to try and channel my anger and frustration into something more positive. Here are five basic things to keep in mind while writing a character of color, in particular characters of South Asian origin.
|Chandramukhi is not here for your bullshit.
|His name is Anthony Gonsalves. He's alone in the world.
Basically, making up an Indian name because it sounds pretty is the equivalent of getting a Chinese character tattoo and finding out it means "asshat" instead of "peace."
Funny story: I was moaning about how the hero in my romantic suspense WIP is black and English and "I'm not sure if I'm getting him right," and fellow author Alyssa Cole goes, "My family's black and English. You could just ask me." Duh. Yeah.
5. Let your characters be human. POC aren't paragons. We're not exotic or wise or magical. We put our pants on the same way as everyone else. Sure, there are cultural, religious, sexual and ability factors that make every person unique, but at the core, we're just people. If you can write a werewolf, you can write a black woman. If you can spell Daenerys Targaryen, you can spell Priyanka Gavankar. An Indian guy or a Polynesian may be as sexy as hell, but he's sexy because he's HIM, not because he's Indian or Polynesian. (Trust me, every culture has ugly dudes and unfortunate women. Our race doesn't automatically make us sexy.)
I don't want to be the Bad Guy, folks. I just want to help—so that, ultimately, I don't have to hurt.