PDA

View Full Version : Weird reactions to my mixing my POC characters



FoamyRules
04-15-2012, 06:20 AM
Well, it's become a habit of mine to make at least one of my MC's a mixed race. I like to diversify my characters, so I didn't think me having a biracial MC all the time was a problem.

Well, several of my friends, family, those a part of my sorority and writing critiques have asked me why every time I write a story one of my main characters is mixed?

My answer was because I am mixed, I've always been comfortable with writing them and I'd like to see more of them in fiction.

The reactions I've been receiving have been weird. I mean, I didn't expect for them to be so irritated with that, but apparently many people who have read my work have been. I'm fine with it if I need to work on my character development and what not but apparently they don't think so. Their fine with said character but don't want them to be mixed.

Anyway, has anyone else faced that dilemna. How would you deal with it? Would you change your characters so they'll be well received?

BunnyMaz
04-15-2012, 06:30 AM
I'd tell them to get over it and keep your characters as they are. A bit of added diversity is a GOOD thing. I'd change a character to make them more well received if the thing that needed changing was something like an inconsistent personality, or Mary Sue tendencies, but that's about improving the writing and nothing else.

I'd ask your friends why they are so bothered by the race of your MCs. Why don't they like it?

Oddly enough, people rarely get irritated with a writer whose MCs are always white.

FoamyRules
04-15-2012, 07:22 AM
That's true. I mean, they never have a problem with my non mixed characters regardless of their race. It's just the mixed ones that get their boxers in a twist.

Strangely, I asked a fraternity guy who is also an aspiring writer, what he thought of them, and he told me that there aren't that many mixed people out there, and sometimes I'll mix races that just doesn't exist (does that make any sense?)

For a short I'm working on for an anthology my MC is Venezuelan, no problems there what's so ever but my other MC who is half black and half Japanese. They want her to be either black or Japanese.

I know these are my characters and I should write them the way I see best, but it's irritating have people criticize me for something that I feel isn't a major problem to my writing.

Thanks for the advice :)

Literateparakeet
04-15-2012, 07:29 AM
I agree with you and BunnyMax. It is their issue to deal with not something you need to change.

FoamyRules
04-15-2012, 07:46 AM
I'm also curious as to whether the novels will be less marketable for that reason. I don't think so, but then again I could be wrong.

frimble3
04-15-2012, 09:17 AM
I think part of the problem is that the small sample of people you've showed your work to are all people who know you. At some level, I think that's colouring their opinion of your MCs. However your MC is depicted, maybe they think it's a reflection of you and your experiences with them?

Like that frat boy who said there aren't that many mixed people out there? If he's a measure of your friends/aquaintances in general, and he hasn't met many other people who identify as 'mixed', maybe the rest of them think you're overstating the case?
Their lack of awareness is no reason to mess with your characters. A wider audience will contain people who want to see diversity. Or, perhaps, a reflection of themselves.

lolchemist
04-15-2012, 02:04 PM
Eww! Tell them to shut up! I'm mixed too and guess what? I also happen to have MCs who are mixed (and not even mixed with the same races as me!)

Of all the things, this is the most annoying thing for them to be complaining about. Complain about anything but for goodness sakes, don't nitpick my character's RACE!! I agree with frimble3, probably your pool of readers is too small and they've seen too much of your work.

bickazer
04-15-2012, 11:04 PM
Mixed black-Japanese?

Look no further than Jero (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jero). He's even a celebrity, fercrissake.

Ignore the people telling you that some combinations can't exist. They always do. People have been mixing since the dawn of time. Maybe there aren't that many of them but they do exist.

FoamyRules
04-16-2012, 01:53 AM
I think part of the problem is that the small sample of people you've showed your work to are all people who know you. At some level, I think that's colouring their opinion of your MCs. However your MC is depicted, maybe they think it's a reflection of you and your experiences with them?

Like that frat boy who said there aren't that many mixed people out there? If he's a measure of your friends/aquaintances in general, and he hasn't met many other people who identify as 'mixed', maybe the rest of them think you're overstating the case?
Their lack of awareness is no reason to mess with your characters. A wider audience will contain people who want to see diversity. Or, perhaps, a reflection of themselves.
This is an interesting point concerning my friends and acquaintances, but I've also been getting the same reaction from other online writing communities I'm a part of as well as my writing critique group.

It's always "I like the story and the characters but why is he/she mixed? Why can't they either be xyz.

Now I do have non mixed characters in my books, I like to diversify my characters so that more people can relate to them.

I'll admit, that's one reason why I haven't put my work out there for publication for fear of a backlash.

Kitty Pryde
04-16-2012, 02:51 AM
Oh, sucks to your friends who dislike a mixed character! Go read The Latte Rebellion and keep writing what you're writing. Any time you aren't making books/movies/art about white people, someone will crawl out of the woodwork to complain. The important thing to remember is that SERIOUSLY THOSE PEOPLE CAN GO SUCK IT.

Nymtoc
04-16-2012, 03:06 AM
Arggh and double-arggh! Who are these people who think there's something wrong with mixed-race characters?

It's possible your circle of "critics" is too small. I live in the Big Apple, and I encounter people of mixed races every day.

Sheesh!

lolchemist
04-16-2012, 05:28 AM
It's always "I like the story and the characters but why is he/she mixed? Why can't they either be xyz.


THEY DON'T NEED A REASON TO BE MIXED! The same way they don't need a reason to be blonde or skinny or fat or tall or orphaned or rich or poor or handicapped or magical or... you get the idea.

I think a reason this 'mixed' thing might be bothering your readers is that they might be living in a very small social bubble and aren't used to seeing actual mixed people in their real lives so giving them a whole bunch of books about a mixed person is on par with giving them a whole bunch of books about an extraordinarily beautiful girl with violet eyes. It's chafing their nerves when it shouldn't. The problem lies with them, not with your books.

Kitty27
04-16-2012, 08:00 AM
I had the same issue but in a different way.

A friend suggested I make the MC in my YA novel biracial instead of the dark brown Black girl I envisioned her as,so she would be more "marketable".

Another friend became extremely pissed at her suggestion as colorism in the Black community is ongoing in rap videos,TV shows,etc.

Things got extremely ugly.

Then my teen-age cousins flat out stated they wouldn't read a book with a Biracial or even a light skinned MC as they feel this has become the standard of beauty in the AA community and such a character is someone they cannot/don't have any desire to connect with.

My head hurt afterwards.


Biracial characters should be written but NEVER as a more marketable character than one who is Black. That rubbed me extremely raw and I lost a friend over it. I have often seen this happen in books and TV shows where a Biracial character is used so as readers who are White can be more comfortable with someone who shares half their ancestry and though diverse,isn't "too" diverse,if you get my meaning.

It even has a name aka "The Not Too Black" trope. I wrote about this and some people became quite offended. I think they didn't understand the historical colorism and the current worship of light skin in the Black community to understand what I was getting at. it's hard for me to put in words and I witness it all the time.

I can't speak on other racial mixtures but the use of a Black&White character can turn quite contentious due to the history of colorism and the old house slave vs field slave thing that has merely transformed into another name these days in the AA community.I could be here all night and write a book trying to explain the light vs dark foolishness. It can indeed become a hot mess.

But if a character appears and speaks to you as Biracial,by all means write him or her. Being Biracial,of course you'd write characters who resemble you! Nothing wrong with that at all.People who have an issue with your writing them, well, that isn't your problem. I think those that have an issue can't quite believe that people of different races do get together and have children! Of course,that gets into the old taboos and well,they have some issues going on.

Snitchcat
04-16-2012, 10:19 AM
I agree with everyone in this thread. IMO, if your character(s) is(are) mixed, then that's how he/she/they should be; if someone tells you different, it's not their story. Stay true to your story, to yourself, and the rest of it will fall into place.

friendlyhobo
04-18-2012, 07:00 AM
In my mind their reaction just solidifies the need for more diverse characters in books. I would say more but the whole subject is just going to get me ranting.

Jcomp
04-19-2012, 01:47 AM
Strangely, I asked a fraternity guy who is also an aspiring writer, what he thought of them, and he told me that there aren't that many mixed people out there, and sometimes I'll mix races that just doesn't exist (does that make any sense?)


Not a lick.

I agree with everyone else, but I will ask one question: where are your stories primarily set? I ask because some regions of the country see a greater prevalence of mixed-race persons. For instance, here in San Antonio, a military city with a large Mexican population, you see many people of mixed-race / -ethnicity. The quote aboves suggests that perhaps you live in an area where it's less common (that's the only marginally sensible reason why I can think someone would say something as asinine as "there aren't that many mixed people out there"). If your stories are set in such a place, and they all feature mixed-race characters, then it may be more of a stretch, though no reason to change the character.

FoamyRules
04-21-2012, 03:19 AM
Very good points indeed guys :)

Kitty, I sometimes forget that there is colorism within the black community, and I don't take that into account when I write my stories. I guess my reasoning is it can be a headache, and I try my best to avoid those types of debates. Not all biracial people are light skinned. I may be mixed with black/white/Native American but I wouldn't consider myself to be light skinned. There is no set look for us, and it kills me that some people don't realize that we all do not look alike.

I'll admit, I do have some bad habits, like my FMC always usually has long either, straight, curly, or wavy hair is slender, average height, and any color eyes. I don't know why that is may be because they resemble me in a way, and I am working on breaking that habit.

My biracial characters are mixed with black most of the time but not all the time. Not all of my characters, not even all of my MC's are mixed. Just one of my MC's ends up being that way. There's no particular reason for it, that's just the way it is.

As for the setting, it depends on the genre. If I'm working on a contemporary novel it'll be set in any city around the world. If I'm working on a fantasy or sci fi it could take place anywhere.

Jcomp, you may have an excellent point and one I didn't consider before. I live in Memphis, it's a predominantly black city with whites being the second majority, but since it is considered a metropolitan area there are quite a lot of mixed people and people of other races who live there. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why he would say something like that especially since his fraternity has quite a few mixed guys.

Kitty Pryde
04-21-2012, 04:06 AM
Some people also categorize any brown person as "black" or "Mexican," depending on shade. Whereas those actual people might actually consider themselves biracial, or be something else like Filipino, Native American, etc.

Lyra Jean
04-21-2012, 04:20 AM
When I was pregnant my OB/GYN asked about my and my husband's ancestry. I told him I was basically Western European and that my husband was half Puerto Rican and half Spanish.

The nurse actually asked how that was possible. I had to explain it to her.

My hubby's dad is from Puerto Rico and his mom is from Cuba but her grandparents were from Spain.

Bespectacled Nerd
04-21-2012, 12:05 PM
I'm mixed, and a good chunk of my characters are, too. One of the main issues I've run into is that most people assume "mixed" automatically means "part white" and end up asking why I have a half black, half Native American character (which is just one example).

It seemed like some people thought the point of writing a mixed character was so that their "whiteness" would make them more marketable. Sigh.

me-a-monsteR
04-21-2012, 12:44 PM
...but my other MC who is half black and half Japanese. They want her to be either black or Japanese.

I'm mixed, but when you said above mixture, my mind went into overanalysis hell. I think the problem is it's hard to picture the combo. If the reader's mind gets preoccupied with picturing the MC, it'll pull them out of the story.

FoamyRules
04-21-2012, 01:04 PM
I'm mixed, but when you said above mixture, my mind went into overanalysis hell. I think the problem is it's hard to picture the combo. If the reader's mind gets preoccupied with picturing the MC, it'll pull them out of the story.
Hmm, interesting point. I never thought of it that way because well there are people who have both African and Asian ancestry. Tiger Woods comes to mind. I know it may not be as common as the white/black mixture but they're out there. That's something to consider for sure.

ETA: Not saying you aren't aware of that, but I guess the combo could be hard to picture for some readers.