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Tazlima
07-15-2013, 07:07 AM
So I'm writing a book right now about a species of furred creatures that are also shapeshifters. They're not human but they are capable of donning the appearance of humans.

For reasons integral to the plot of the story, their fur comes in all different colors and when they shapeshift the magic automatically selects the skin/hair/eye color closest to their true coloration.

The result of this is a community of, to human observers, mixed-race couples. My concern is that readers will think of this as a political statement of some sort. While I'd be proud to be considered a proponent for equality, I wouldn't deserve the title. Additionally, such a reaction might result in my being pigeon-holed as a "political" writer, when I'm just trying to write fantasy.

In my mind, the characters' "race" is meaningless, as they aren't human themselves and therefore don't care about human social issues. After all, if humans could shapeshift into dogs, would they really care what color the dog's fur was? They'd just be like, "Cool! I'm a dog! Watch me wag my tail!"

The only other solution is to rearrange the couples and pair them up like the "matchmaking" episode of an eighties cartoon. Pink guy gets pink girl, green guy gets green girl, blue guy is interested in green girl for a while, but then realizes that blue girl is really his soul mate.

This might not even help, as the same people might then decide I'm a proponent for "marrying only within one's race."

Ugh. I guess racists are going to be racists no matter how I approach the issue.

Kitty Pryde
07-15-2013, 09:36 AM
8% of all marriages are interracial, 14% of 2008 marriages were interracial and 7% of babies born in 2009 are biracial. Don't worry about making a statement. Don't worry about racists. You don't want them reading your book anyway.

Kaarl
07-18-2013, 01:03 AM
Ugh. I guess racists are going to be racists no matter how I approach the issue.

Exactly. Someone is always going to misinterpret what you say (or find hidden meanings) and that is their problem.

Write your story how you want and forget about them. If racists buy your book and then complain/ project their insecurities on to you then it's a win/win for you.

You offended them and they paid for the privilege. Woot !

AyJay
07-18-2013, 07:46 AM
I also write about shifters, in a different way, and I think there's inevitably a political context to whatever we write, including and beyond the shifter trope.

With shifters, you're talking about tweaking race and sometimes gender in a provocative way. The possibilities are interesting to me since it can challenge commonly-held perceptions. But there are also pitfalls. I think it's good to examine the choices we make as writers, not necessarily to be beholden to a politically-correct POV, but to understand one's POV and be prepared to explain it.

For example, in my own work, I take shifter magic as borne from Native spirituality, which could be taken as an exploitation of Native traditions, or contributing to the stereotype that Natives are more primitive and "uncivilized." That's not my intention, but as a non-Native, I've worried sometimes about the story being perceived that way. There's a pervasive cliché about indigenous people being mysterious and secretive, and I don't want to go down that road.

So, I guess the answer for me has been to try to create real characters, not caricatures, and to make the shifter world as complex as our real world is.

PandaMan
07-20-2013, 08:19 AM
I have a "mixed race" marriage and I wouldn't read a political connotation into your story at all. I suppose some would but technically, we are all mongrels aren't we -- half from our mother, half from our father.

I say write the story you want to write and let the leaves fall wherever the wind takes them.

Nonny
07-23-2013, 12:51 PM
Something that I have seen as a criticism, that you probably should be aware of, is that it is a trope of sorts to have POC in certain sub-genres as shapeshifters. The underlying (and usually not intended) message being that POC are savage and animalistic. If your story only deals with shapeshifters, then it's probably not a problem, but if you have shapeshifters and other humans... you may not want your only POC to be shapeshifters.

Tazlima
07-26-2013, 01:50 AM
Something that I have seen as a criticism, that you probably should be aware of, is that it is a trope of sorts to have POC in certain sub-genres as shapeshifters. The underlying (and usually not intended) message being that POC are savage and animalistic. If your story only deals with shapeshifters, then it's probably not a problem, but if you have shapeshifters and other humans... you may not want your only POC to be shapeshifters.

Huh. I never even considered that. My human characters are nearly as assorted as my shifters, though, so I'm in good shape. Guess I dodged a bullet without knowing it.