I’m a person who’s always considered myself to be tolerant. I think that Asians are smart, and that black people can dance better, so this makes me a good person, right?
I’ve recently become aware that not everybody thinks this way. An Asian friend of mine gets rather offended when people assume she’s good at math. I guess, even idolizing people dehumanizes them. I don’t intend to make any people feel bad, but I guess I do.
Especially as an author, I’m extremely conscious of whether or not I’m including enough characters of different races and sexualities and ages and genders, but it’s never really occurred to me that it’s not all about having them there to be tokens, it’s also about making the characters human. My main three characters are white, but I have secondary characters that are non-white. However, I’ve come to realize that maybe I have accidentally been creating characters to fill a quota.
Then there’s the fear I have of misrepresenting a certain demographic, or encouraging a stereotype. Is it alright to have a campy gay guy? What about a gangster black man? Or sexy Latino? I feel sometimes like there is no way I can get it right. No matter what I do, someone will complain because either: I didn’t include enough X people, or I encouraged X stereotype, or I misrepresented how X actually are.
But I understand this. In a movie, book, or video game, I am annoyed when the only private-school kid is bratty, or the only woman is weak and sexed-up, or the only white person is a terrible dancer. Does this make me hypocritical? Maybe, maybe not….
What are your thoughts on this?