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ellio
08-25-2013, 11:43 PM
Okay, I've just started planning my first venture into Sci-Fi. I have an idea I'm really committed too and I just want to get your opinion on one section. A large portion of the novel is set in the near future - 20/30 years ahead of our time. My character is English nationally but I want her ethnicity to be something else because I kind of need her to go through excessive racial profiling as part of the plot. This is due to terrorist attacks carried out in our near future.

The thing that I can't work out is deciding what race to make her. There needs to be one country that has to take the fall for being where "the bad guys" originate from and she just has to be from either that country or a country where people look vaguely similar to the bad guys, as is the nature of racial profiling and how ridiculous it is. My original *bad guys* were going to be from North Korea and my character was going to be South Korean, but then, politically, although I want the book to reflect situations that happen now, I really want to avoid anything current. That's why I'm also reluctant to avoid her being from the middle east or north africa because racial profiling is a thing that happens all too often for people from those areas currently. The media's mad for it. (That said, is there a race out there that doesn't get profiled in some way in the west? Bar, you know, the obvious...)

I'm so stuck. I don't want to do the whole power balance shift thing and make her white and have PoC doing the racial profiling because I don't want her to be the poor, white, victim when we live in a world where PoC get racially profiled every day.

I don't want to make any country where there are PoC's look like it's full of evil terrorists and offend readers from those countries but then at the same time the point of the allegory throughout the whole crazy sci-fi war stuff that goes on is to show that we can't judge a group of people by their religion/country of origin based on what a number of them do.

Perhaps I just make the terrorists PoCs of some sort but don't mention their country of origin, so that when my character is racially profiled it's even more unfair because they're going on nothing but her race?

(I know I haven't explained this well at all but I hope you see what I'm getting at and offer me some advice. I'm a PoC writer and have firsthand experience in racial profiling from a government level so sensitivity in regards to the handling of racial profiling in my novel isn't what I'm asking about. I'm asking about how I should best approach her race and ethnicity considering that she will be racially profiled.)

Cranky1
08-26-2013, 12:13 AM
Have you considered making her white and Muslim? I knew Serbians, Albanians, and Bosnians who were racially white, but they were Muslims. I'm thinking specifically of Chechnya because I see more and more focus shifted to this region. It could be interesting to contrast how she is treated when she wears a headscarf versus when she doesn't.

Rachel Udin
08-26-2013, 01:41 AM
Have you considered making her white and Muslim? I knew Serbians, Albanians, and Bosnians who were racially white, but they were Muslims. I'm thinking specifically of Chechnya because I see more and more focus shifted to this region. It could be interesting to contrast how she is treated when she wears a headscarf versus when she doesn't.
I think you missed:


I'm so stuck. I don't want to do the whole power balance shift thing and make her white and have PoC doing the racial profiling because I don't want her to be the poor, white, victim when we live in a world where PoC get racially profiled every day.

Sikhs were singled out after 9/11, even though Sikhs=/=Muslims... They were singled out for the turbans and some stores were destroyed simply because they wore turbans. Yeah. Would avoid the whole making them white which would defeat the point.

If you want to avoid the racial profiling, you can reduce it to prejudice itself, which is paranoid and delusional, but I think you'd have to know a whole lot more about the nature of prejudice to be able to pull it off. <-- If you aim to do this I have a list I've been nursing, so PM me.

BTW, Korean but I've been called "j-a-p" before. And on the streets of LA. Yep.

Cranky1
08-26-2013, 01:56 AM
I think you missed:


Sikhs were singled out after 9/11, even though Sikhs=/=Muslims... They were singled out for the turbans and some stores were destroyed simply because they wore turbans. Yeah. Would avoid the whole making them white which would defeat the point.

If you want to avoid the racial profiling, you can reduce it to prejudice itself, which is paranoid and delusional, but I think you'd have to know a whole lot more about the nature of prejudice to be able to pull it off. <-- If you aim to do this I have a list I've been nursing, so PM me.

BTW, Korean but I've been called "j-a-p" before. And on the streets of LA. Yep.

No, I didn't miss that part. The OP spoke about turning the scenario around where the white person is profiled by minority individuals. A white muslim is still a minority person, and they would be profiled by other whites more than minorities.

Rachel Udin
08-26-2013, 01:59 AM
No, I didn't miss that part. The OP spoke about turning the scenario around where the white person is profiled by minority individuals. A white muslim is still a minority person, and they would be profiled by other whites more than minorities.
Racial profiling, not religious profiling.

Or one mistaken for the other.

For example, and I say this with Jewish parents, a white Christian hating on my parents isn't racial hate as much as my mom might want to believe because she's pasty white. (and those are her words). It's religious intolerance.

However, a white person automatically thinking that everyone of brown coloring looking vaguely from India must be Muslim, that's racial profiling. Basics.

Cranky1
08-26-2013, 02:10 AM
Racial profiling, not religious profiling.

Or one mistaken for the other.

For example, and I say this with Jewish parents, a white Christian hating on my parents isn't racial hate as much as my mom might want to believe because she's pasty white. (and those are her words). It's religious intolerance.

However, a white person automatically thinking that everyone of brown coloring looking vaguely from India must be Muslim, that's racial profiling. Basics.

And that is what makes using a white Muslim interesting. Many people have racialized the religion of Islam and they expect that radical Islamists look like people from the mideast or northern African. As a white person, they can fade in and out of the majority without being detected, unless their name conveys their heritage; however, once they wear a hijab or other head scarf, they become racialized.


ETA: When it comes to profiling, I tend to think England is guilty of profiling individuals of the Islamic faith rather than their racial or ethnic heritage.

ellio
08-26-2013, 02:20 AM
Yeah, I want to avoid the profiling being for religious purposes. I don't want to bring religion into it because religion in itself because judging people based on their religion is a far more complex issue that I don't intend to tackle in this novel.

If I explain further the idea goes like this: my character travels to *a part of the world* and is not allowed to travel back to the UK because she looks like she's from *the same part of the world that the terrorist organisation is from*

Now, part of my heritage is from sub-saharan Africa. My idea would be executed so that, using me as an example, that I travelled to a nice holiday somewhere outside of the EU and when I returned I wasn't allowed back in because I looked similar to those in a terrorist organisation from Botswana (*or somewhere).

Would it be in bad taste to name the country the terrorist organisation was from and so then the racial profiling would directly attack Botswanans* and those that looked like them or would it be better if I flipped it the other way round so that the terrorist organisation was a group of sub-saharan Africans (in general) but my character was Botswanan and was profiled because she came from sub-saharan Africa?

I feel like the latter might be more reader friendly rather than potentially painting a bad picture of an already existing country?

Cranky1
08-26-2013, 02:39 AM
Yeah, I want to avoid the profiling being for religious purposes. I don't want to bring religion into it because religion in itself because judging people based on their religion is a far more complex issue that I don't intend to tackle in this novel.

If I explain further the idea goes like this: my character travels to *a part of the world* and is not allowed to travel back to the UK because she looks like she's from *the same part of the world that the terrorist organisation is from*

Now, part of my heritage is from sub-saharan Africa. My idea would be executed so that, using me as an example, that I travelled to a nice holiday somewhere outside of the EU and when I returned I wasn't allowed back in because I looked similar to those in a terrorist organisation from Botswana (*or somewhere).

Would it be in bad taste to name the country the terrorist organisation was from and so then the racial profiling would directly attack Botswanans* and those that looked like them or would it be better if I flipped it the other way round so that the terrorist organisation was a group of sub-saharan Africans (in general) but my character was Botswanan and was profiled because she came from sub-saharan Africa?

I feel like the latter might be more reader friendly rather than potentially painting a bad picture of an already existing country?

On what grounds would this terrorist organization exist?

ellio
08-26-2013, 03:26 AM
On what grounds would this terrorist organization exist?

Politically opposed to how other governments choose to run their countries and the socioeconomic effects they might have worldwide. That was my initial concept anyway. I don't believe terrorism and religion go hand in hand.

Cranky1
08-26-2013, 03:32 AM
Politically opposed to how other governments choose to run their countries and the socioeconomic effects they might have worldwide. That was my initial concept anyway. I don't believe terrorism and religion go hand in hand.

Terrorism and religion definitely do not go hand in hand. However, let's analyze some of the more prolific terrorist organizations in the world and we will find that many are tied to religion.

Anyway, I ask what would be the basis for their organization because their reasons strengthen or weaken the 'racial profiling' aspect.

calieber
08-26-2013, 03:51 AM
It's not a country, but maybe Romani? She could be Romani herself, then, or Indian or Pakistani, perhaps. From what I understand, it's not like Romani don't have grievances, but I'm unaware of Romani terrorist activity that might date the story, if that's your concern.

Disclaimer: not Romani myself.

snafu1056
08-26-2013, 03:56 PM
Maybe the terrorist group isn't based on race or religion but on some kind of lifestyle. Since it's the future maybe some kind of body modification community that has developed an extreme violent wing. Members of a body modification group would be physically easy to spot, so your MC would still have to deal with profiling.

Rachel Udin
08-27-2013, 08:43 PM
Yeah, I want to avoid the profiling being for religious purposes. I don't want to bring religion into it because religion in itself because judging people based on their religion is a far more complex issue that I don't intend to tackle in this novel.

If I explain further the idea goes like this: my character travels to *a part of the world* and is not allowed to travel back to the UK because she looks like she's from *the same part of the world that the terrorist organisation is from*

Now, part of my heritage is from sub-saharan Africa. My idea would be executed so that, using me as an example, that I travelled to a nice holiday somewhere outside of the EU and when I returned I wasn't allowed back in because I looked similar to those in a terrorist organisation from Botswana (*or somewhere).

Would it be in bad taste to name the country the terrorist organisation was from and so then the racial profiling would directly attack Botswanans* and those that looked like them or would it be better if I flipped it the other way round so that the terrorist organisation was a group of sub-saharan Africans (in general) but my character was Botswanan and was profiled because she came from sub-saharan Africa?

I feel like the latter might be more reader friendly rather than potentially painting a bad picture of an already existing country?
Samoa? People don't get that there are native people who are dark-skinned elsewhere in the world besides Africa/being from Africa (nor that some white people are born in Africa, but that's getting off the trail). Samoa is one example. Papua New Guinea, etc. Look in that area.

Perhaps, though it would make it a bit complicated, they think the language they are speaking makes them South African. (and I do mean the country rather than the direction.) It would date the book though... Nelson Mandela-esque.

It has happened before that people have been placed in mental institutions simply for not being able to speak the native language/looking different. (And before you judge, yes, in the US, also in South Korea.)

UK also has a history of racism in the 1960's-1970's against Haitians (sorry if the country is wrong, I'm terrible with names, in general.) So swapping out isn't that hard.

Kim Fierce
08-28-2013, 05:32 AM
I see where you're coming from with this problem. I think that since it's in the near future it might be more relatable if we have the profiling happen to someone in a situation that is recognizable today. If the MC were from somewhere in the Middle East that would mean she could both look and dress differently and get judged that way, for example.

My 2 book dystopian series has a nation split between so-called "normal" towns and Gay Communities. But also, it's 200 years in the future and supposedly a post-racial era with almost everyone multi-racial. But I have members of a shadow government who have genetically altered themselves to be a super race with more longevity and strength, and also removed all their skin pigment to set themselves apart from the others.

Yorkist
08-28-2013, 05:40 AM
How about somewhere in Central or South America? There are associations with certain areas and drug cartels. Colombia?

If you make up some historical events (to happen in the future of our present), the character can be from any place you want, too.

kevinwaynewilliams
08-28-2013, 07:02 PM
I think you need to figure out your story in broad strokes and then select or manufacture an ethnicity to match. Do you want it to be something she can eventually disguise? Choose one of the ex-Soviet republics, because they aren't too physically distinct from the traditional "British" stereotype. If not, choose a physically different group, like the Koreans.

In terms of safety from backlash, the North Koreans are actually a good choice: you won't find people upset with your characterization as long as you portray the bad guys as having been brainwashed by the evil dictator instead of being somehow intrinsically bad.

If I were doing this and setting it in the near future, I would choose a group that people don't have preconceptions about. Have the Anasazi take over Fort Huachuca and hold the US-Mexico border area hostage with captured nukes or something. That's plausible enough that people won't immediately reject it, but still lets you have relatively free reign as a writer because you aren't fighting a lot of existing stereotypes in peoples heads.

Rachel Udin
08-28-2013, 11:47 PM
Nitpick, but what's with "the Koreans" and "the North Koreans" versus not "the" in front of British...

Ummm... Koreans is just fine. South Korean. North Korean.

Korean here. I'm definitely not "the Koreans"

I know it's a tangent, but for some reason English tends to put "the" in front of "other"/"exotic" places. "the Chinese" "the Japanese" "the African Americans." But not for "native" (native used very, very loosely. If you want an edge of sarcasm to it, you can add at will, but in my head I'm making a not sarcastic quoting sound.) populations. Such as "whites" "British" "Americans".

Ummm... yeah, so I rather not be labeled as "other" and avoid using "the" in front of things that don't need it.

No offense really taken, but think over it a bit please. ^_^ Thanks.

BTW, if you do decide on Korean, I have a crap load of links, etc.

Cranky1
08-29-2013, 12:07 AM
I've seen "the" used with "the Irish", "the Welsh", and "the French". I've been called "the Yank" on occasion.