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onemillionskies
07-27-2013, 01:57 AM
I'm white and although I've never experience racism (and therefore don't feel very qualified to write about it or characters who have) I have experienced prejudice for other things (mainly being LGBT and disabled) so I want to make the effort to be inclusive in my book.

Now i have this situation and I want some feedback. I'm not sure if it could be considered offensive in some way. It doesn't seem to it from my point of view but that's why I'm coming here.

I have a short story where the main character meets a group of vampires. Now usually people assume they're all pale and stuff. The vampires in my story are all pale but in a sickly way, they still therefore keep their skin color.

The main character mistakes a black vampire for a human for a scene before realizing what they are.

I was worried because the vampire is one of the few PoC characters I have and is not mentioned again and is not very important to the story (no name is given, it's a background character). I didn't want it to come off as a token character as there are 1-2 other PoC characters in the book (who appear later and actually do stuff). I don't know if that's too low? But the setting and time period wouldn't realistically allow for more than that. This is out of a cast of about 10 or so characters who actually have lines and do things (including the main characters).

Thoughts? I think I might just be over thinking this, but it's really not my area and I don't really have any friends I could ask to have a look over the scene.

Rachel Udin
07-27-2013, 04:54 PM
Racial markers have more constructs to them than simply skin color.

Within 80% (which is still fuzzy) Anthropologists by the US definition of race can guess the "race" of a given person. Race is also a construct of other features as well.

For example Semitic people joke about have big noses, etc.

Now, there is such a thing as passing, etc. And it does happen that mixed children look one way or the other instead of dead middle. And people *do* range within races which accounts for the 20%, but what about the other 80%?

But at the same time that doesn't have much to do with blood flow, which was the original assumption. It has to do with melanin and exposure to sun. Vitamin D is also produced by standing in the sun.

So my concern is that the science would be off. A dead black person still looks black, which is what the whole vampire thing was based on.

lolchemist
07-27-2013, 06:36 PM
When black people with even really dark brown skin get sick, they still get an unhealthy pallor. Like instead of having that healthy red, orange or golden undertone/glow to their brown skin, they look gray, ashy and dull. I would imagine that would be the same thing that happens to your brown skinned vampire. I think it would be offensive if your black vampire became basically albino upon death LOL

This is basically an annoying issue we have to deal with now because the vampire authors of the past who's shoulders we are standing on never addressed the issue of black vampires back then and decided that caucasian vampires would look paler upon death. I think when vampires were REALLY bad guys and meant to be UGLY, 'pale' meant gross, disgusting, deathly and sick. It's ony the Anne Rices and Stephenie Meyers of the world who turned this pale issue into something beautiful and angelic. What I'm trying to say is just trailblaze your own vampire mythos and don't worry about what other authors did.

Polenth
07-27-2013, 08:57 PM
I have a story where vampires are assumed to all be white, so the string of wannabe vampire hunters don't stop to consider that a black person might be one. Particularly as he's not acting in a way they consider vampirey. But that only works because they're inexperienced and acting on false preconceptions. It'd be a bit odd for someone with a lot of experience of vampires not to notice the signs.

So it'd really come down to your main character, their experiences and the circumstances (it's a lot easier to notice someone's a vampire when they're in a crowd of other vampires).

onemillionskies
07-27-2013, 09:30 PM
I think some of you misread what I was saying.

The black vampires do look black, they don't turn albino, they just look pale.

The main character doesn't have much experience with vampires and assumes he's human (when he isn't) and then realizes that he's a vampire. Obviously this would include a heavy descriptive paragraph about skin color and vampires having noticeable outer features.

I wanted to address the issue and not go all Stephanie Meyer on my readers. Am I doing it right?

lolchemist
07-27-2013, 10:21 PM
I think some of you misread what I was saying.

The black vampires do look black, they don't turn albino, they just look pale.

The main character doesn't have much experience with vampires and assumes he's human (when he isn't) and then realizes that he's a vampire. Obviously this would include a heavy descriptive paragraph about skin color and vampires having noticeable outer features.

I wanted to address the issue and not go all Stephanie Meyer on my readers. Am I doing it right?

No, I understood what you said, I was just using some examples and poking fun at other authors who turn their humans into slabs of sparkling marble once they turn vampiric.

I really don't even see why you think it would be problematic to explain to the reader that a black vampire has brown skin.

And your specific question about your character not realizing the black vampire is a vampire at first? It really depends on how much he knows about vampires to begin with. In your mythos, what are the specific physical indicators of being a vampire besides unhealthy pallor? Fangs? Weird eyes?

If he's a vampire expert and he fails to realize someone is a vampire just because he's black, your character will look like an idiot. If he literally had no clue vampires even existed until just now, then his confusion would be reasonable. In real life mythos, vampires tend to be an Eastern European thing (like Romanian) so the assumption that a black person probably isn't a vampire would not be racist.

onemillionskies
07-28-2013, 01:28 AM
No, I understood what you said, I was just using some examples and poking fun at other authors who turn their humans into slabs of sparkling marble once they turn vampiric.

I really don't even see why you think it would be problematic to explain to the reader that a black vampire has brown skin.

Oh, cool.

I was just fretting too much I guess. Wanted to triple quadruple check I wasn't offending anyone.


If he's a vampire expert and he fails to realize someone is a vampire just because he's black, your character will look like an idiot. If he literally had no clue vampires even existed until just now, then his confusion would be reasonable. In real life mythos, vampires tend to be an Eastern European thing (like Romanian) so the assumption that a black person probably isn't a vampire would not be racist.

It's half and half, and that's what I was thinking. It's just you know, sometimes there's things one wouldn't think are racist until it's explained to them why they are so, just wanted to triple check like I was saying. No harm in being careful, right?


Thanks for your help :)

J.S.F.
07-28-2013, 03:02 AM
As long as they're not 'sparkly' it's all good.

Sparkly vampires. The notion makes me upchuck a little.

Ya, rlly!