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EvolvingK
09-06-2014, 06:20 PM
I have a job ghostwriting erotica, and the current series I'm working on is set in East Texas. I'm from Vermont.

Setting a story on the Mexican border, I'm well aware of the grossness of white-washing my cast, but I find myself really nervous about getting it wrong as I write the various characters who are non-white. Some things I'm actively doing: describing peoples' skin colors with actual words, not foods, watching out for unintentional analogies (all the good guys are white and all the bad guys are PoC).

I guess some tips on how to make a big ass out of myself is what I'm looking for. My name won't be on this work at all, but in a weird way that makes me even more cautious, because I'll never be able to apologize for it or fix it if I get it wrong.

Ken
09-06-2014, 06:51 PM
Familiarize yourself with Mexican culture. Also its history. Language too. An overview. If you have all that at your disposal you'll be able to make the right decisions. Otherwise you'll have to guess, at risk of getting it wrong and needing to rely on stereotypes, etc. Bottomline: research your subject. G'luck.

Fruitbat
09-06-2014, 07:00 PM
First, what do you mean by East Texas? Because what we call East Texas in Texas is over by Louisiana, a six or seven hour drive from the Mexican border. East Texas is probably more Black and White than Mexican and White, piney woods as opposed to the desert border area, etc. They're two pretty different environments.

EvolvingK
09-07-2014, 01:09 AM
First, what do you mean by East Texas? Because what we call East Texas in Texas is over by Louisiana, a six or seven hour drive from the Mexican border. East Texas is probably more Black and White than Mexican and White, piney woods as opposed to the desert border area, etc. They're two pretty different environments.

Interesting. The setting in the description I'm working from has East Texas, not far from the Mexican Border. Looks like I'm already a bit handicapped on getting this one right.

What would you call the closest major city in that area, proper East Texas? I'll work the rest out as best as I can and go from there.

snowpea
09-07-2014, 01:17 AM
Interesting. The setting in the description I'm working from has East Texas, not far from the Mexican Border. Looks like I'm already a bit handicapped on getting this one right.

What would you call the closest major city in that area, proper East Texas? I'll work the rest out as best as I can and go from there.

Sorry I have no idea what you mean by East Texas. I live in Southeast Texas (Houston) and it's very multicultural here.... white, black, latino, asian, etc.

Do you mean like near San Antonio or Corpus Christi? Because that would definitely have more latinos.

Texas is a HUGE state so you need to be more specific.

http://www.aaccessmaps.com/images/maps/us/tx/texas_all/texas_all.gif

Fruitbat
09-07-2014, 01:22 AM
There aren't any "major" cities in East Texas. Here's a quick Wikipedia thing, for starters:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Texas

EvolvingK
09-07-2014, 01:31 AM
Sorry I have no idea what you mean by East Texas. I live in Southeast Texas (Houston) and it's very multicultural here.... white, black, latino, asian, etc.


What I know about Texas personally is that I have an uncle who lives in El Paso. I know that's all the way over on the other side of the state, which boggles my mind; I can't drive three hours in any direction from where I am and still be in the same state.

The description I've gotten from the client is very vague, and I have a lot of latitude for filling in the details from the plot I get, which is basically something you'd find on the back cover description. But yeah, I have East Texas, near the Mexican Border. Sounds like I need to nail this down a lot more and go forward from there. And I thought PoC would be my biggest concern... :D


There aren't any "major" cities in East Texas. Here's a quick Wikipedia thing, for starters:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Texas

Thanks kindly. I'll do some more reading to get my geography right. I really appreciate your taking the time to correct my New Englander thinking on this one.

snowpea
09-07-2014, 01:34 AM
What I know about Texas personally is that I have an uncle who lives in El Paso. I know that's all the way over on the other side of the state, which boggles my mind; I can't drive three hours in any direction from where I am and still be in the same state.

The description I've gotten from the client is very vague, and I have a lot of latitude for filling in the details from the plot I get, which is basically something you'd find on the back cover description. But yeah, I have East Texas, near the Mexican Border. Sounds like I need to nail this down a lot more and go forward from there. And I thought PoC would be my biggest concern... :D



Thanks kindly. I'll do some more reading to get my geography right. I really appreciate your taking the time to correct my New Englander thinking on this one.

Lol it boggles my mind to drive an hour and be in another state.... It takes me an hour to get to the other side of Houston.

Fruitbat
09-07-2014, 01:35 AM
Oh, I know. Houston to El Paso is a twelve hour drive.

stephenf
09-07-2014, 01:43 AM
I'm not an American , so I have no idea about East Texas . However, I understand the problems you might be having . Most people are the same , regardless of their origins . We all want our children to do well , our parents to be fit and healthy, and our bank balance to be in the black . Don't worry about being white , just see others as you see your self.

Jack Asher
09-07-2014, 01:57 AM
I love listening to Texans talk about how bit their state is. Did you know they wanted to split Alaska in two so that it wouldn't be the biggest state?

Unfortunately if you split Alaska in half, Texas would be the third largest state.

EvolvingK
09-07-2014, 02:06 AM
I love listening to Texans talk about how bit their state is. Did you know they wanted to split Alaska in two so that it wouldn't be the biggest state?

Unfortunately if you split Alaska in half, Texas would be the third largest state.

Heh :D

Vermont's big claim to "fame" is that we had to threaten to join Canada before we could join the U.S. Good times.

Jack Asher
09-07-2014, 02:39 AM
It's important for the Original Poster to be aware of local demographics as well. Most of the Hispanic community in Colorado is from Mexico, but we also have a large population of Ethiopians, Nepalese, and Mongolians (it's the similar altitude).

The Hispanics in her tiny town could easily be Guatemalans, Hondurans and Colombians. Texas is a border state, so immigrants from all countries go through there, but they won't all settle in the same place. They'll find communities with similar people.

Polenth
09-07-2014, 04:06 AM
The biggest thing I've noticed in books with a strong relationship element is exotifying the PoC/non-white love interest, in a way that makes the interest in them seem to be a race-based fetish. And as I only usually read the opening chapters in SYW, it's amazing how the author manages to create this impression when the characters have only just met.

It can be hard to place why it comes across as a fetish, but one is an obsessive focus on racial features. This could happen even with plain descriptions, as if you keep mentioning how brown they are, and how sexy their brown skin is, it's going to come across that way. Such descriptions also often avoid stuff that is usually obsessed about when the character is white (nice smile, big muscles, or whatever else).

Another is stereotypes tend to be turned up to the max. Native American men are stoic and otherworldy. Asian women are small and submissive. Black men are powerful and scary. These expectations of how people will behave in relationships get applied to real people, so you can likely find a lot online of people's bad experiences of dating white people with a race fetish. It'll give you some idea of the common expectations for a particular group.

EvolvingK
09-07-2014, 07:06 PM
It's important for the Original Poster to be aware of local demographics as well. Most of the Hispanic community in Colorado is from Mexico, but we also have a large population of Ethiopians, Nepalese, and Mongolians (it's the similar altitude).

The Hispanics in her tiny town could easily be Guatemalans, Hondurans and Colombians. Texas is a border state, so immigrants from all countries go through there, but they won't all settle in the same place. They'll find communities with similar people.

Thankfully, the town itself is made up, so I can pick something and run with it.


The biggest thing I've noticed in books with a strong relationship element is exotifying the PoC/non-white love interest, in a way that makes the interest in them seem to be a race-based fetish. And as I only usually read the opening chapters in SYW, it's amazing how the author manages to create this impression when the characters have only just met...

I know what you mean; I run into this sometimes when reading LGBT erotica written by folks who aren't LGBT. Characters get all focused on stuff that I would be kind of ...and? over.

Thank you for the rest of it; avoiding stereotypes is a big thing, clearly. What I'm hearing (and I think I really just needed to hear this in my own head) is to make sure that a character's ethnicity adds to their personhood, and not the other way around.

Cathy C
09-07-2014, 08:39 PM
Just FYI, If you look at the map that snowpea kindly linked, there isn't a place in east Texas that borders Mexico. If you're setting it on the Mexican border, you're looking at west or south Texas, which, as far as attitudes of people, are drastically different than east Texas. I'm in central Texas, which has also vastly different personalities. If the OP's uncle is in El Paso, that's extreme west Texas. There is actually a fence that separates El Paso from Mexico, which is a very volatile area. It's both a meeting place where separated families have picnics, and places where there is random violence. People on the Mexico side throw rocks at the police and scream obscenities. It's a very interesting area. This is an interesting link to learn more about the area. (https://www.elpasotexas.gov/muni_clerk/meetings/lrcm0105121300/01051203%20PAGES%2046%20TO%2053.pdf)

You might also consider posting on Twitter for people who live there and ask about interesting things that have happened to them. Those sort of things make great backstory. :)

EvolvingK
09-08-2014, 01:22 AM
Just FYI, If you look at the map that snowpea kindly linked, there isn't a place in east Texas that borders Mexico. If you're setting it on the Mexican border, you're looking at west or south Texas, which, as far as attitudes of people, are drastically different than east Texas. I'm in central Texas, which has also vastly different personalities. If the OP's uncle is in El Paso, that's extreme west Texas. There is actually a fence that separates El Paso from Mexico, which is a very volatile area. It's both a meeting place where separated families have picnics, and places where there is random violence. People on the Mexico side throw rocks at the police and scream obscenities. It's a very interesting area. This is an interesting link to learn more about the area. (https://www.elpasotexas.gov/muni_clerk/meetings/lrcm0105121300/01051203%20PAGES%2046%20TO%2053.pdf)

No, I've definitely seen that. So I'm heading more for "in East Texas, several hours from the border," which seems to be fine, and if the client objects, I'll point out a map. Should be fine.

Fruitbat
09-08-2014, 01:39 AM
After my last post, I realized it could also just be that whoever wants you to use this setting is not familiar with Texas. I could see someone calling the part of the Texas/Mexico border that's on the Gulf of Mexico "east" Texas just because when you look at a map, it's definitely on the east side of Texas, as opposed to the west side. That would be a much larger area than the region we know as East Texas. So it could just be a confusion over what they mean by "east," too.

Fruitbat
09-08-2014, 02:05 AM
About writing PoC when you're not PoC. I have a story from a White MC's POV but including some Black people, set in the 1950's. I posted it and asked for help on another board and it started a squabble that didn't have much to do with my story.

Strangely, the mess was mostly White people who seemed to see themselves as spokespeople for the Black community but without having had much interaction with them and being born decades after the time of my story. And an older White guy was furious because he "was tired of people making his city look bad" (I chose it because I lived there for several years). Etc. I still got some good advice in between all that, but I'd watch for who is advising, as much as you can anyway. But I guess that goes for anything.

I'd write the story that you want to write. Then have it gone over to see what you might have missed. But maybe some extra care there, like requesting help from people of whatever group you have the questions about or just not responding to anything that's off the topic of helping you with your story.

Roxxsmom
09-08-2014, 08:33 AM
I don't think it would hurt to acquaint oneself with some of the more obvious mistakes that crop up in novels. It's been pointed out elsewhere that it's not the responsibility of PoC to educate white people about racism, especially the more obvious things about it.

The fact that East Texas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Texas) does not actually share a border with Mexico, and is hundreds of miles away from the Mexican/US border, for instance, is something that's pretty easy to research. It makes me wonder whether the people who are commissioning this writing project have all their ducks in a row.

I suppose it all depends on how much leeway they're giving you as a writer re the particulars of the story and setting too.

Marian Perera
09-08-2014, 03:07 PM
The biggest thing I've noticed in books with a strong relationship element is exotifying the PoC/non-white love interest, in a way that makes the interest in them seem to be a race-based fetish. And as I only usually read the opening chapters in SYW, it's amazing how the author manages to create this impression when the characters have only just met.

I'm glad you mentioned this. My most recent story is a fantasy set in an Africa-esque land, where the heroine is black. I wanted the hero to notice and like her skin and hair, the same way he'd admire them if she was white, but when I go through the manuscript again I'll check that this doesn't come off as disproportionate or exotifying.

There's one part where he thinks she'd even be pretty if she wore white (white clothes have a certain not-good symbolic value), because that color would make her look darker and more vivid. Hopefully that isn't too bad.

ETA : Also no references to chocolate, coffee, mocha, caramel or raisins.

EvolvingK
09-08-2014, 03:42 PM
I don't think it would hurt to acquaint oneself with some of the more obvious mistakes that crop up in novels. It's been pointed out elsewhere that it's not the responsibility of PoC to educate white people about racism, especially the more obvious things about it.

The fact that East Texas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Texas) does not actually share a border with Mexico, and is hundreds of miles away from the Mexican/US border, for instance, is something that's pretty easy to research. It makes me wonder whether the people who are commissioning this writing project have all their ducks in a row.

I suppose it all depends on how much leeway they're giving you as a writer re the particulars of the story and setting too.

I apologize if I've given offense; that was definitely not my intention.

The client is someone I've worked with for most of a year now, and I'm generally given quite a lot of leeway with a story, so long as it matches up more or less with the description I'm given. I've seen what he publishes, and as far as I can tell, no major changes are made from what I write to what he publishes.

I believe that what happens on the other side of where I'm working is that he also commissions the descriptions from people who are good at that. I have a friend, for example, who can churn out romance plots as fast as I can ask for them, but she hates writing romance stories, so doesn't use the ideas. He buys the ideas, sends them to his writers, who write the stories, which he buys. I get rent money without having to write someone's college papers for them, which makes me happy. :D

Cathy C
09-08-2014, 05:17 PM
It's a bit of a strange business model, but so long as you're happy with the compensation, it's all good. :) I do wonder what his fans would think if they discovered the books were all ghostwritten. People don't mind ghostwritten non-fiction. Fiction is a trickier animal. But again, so long as everyone is cool, no problem.

The biggest thing with writing outside your own experience, whether race or sexual orientation or background, is to read/watch as much as you can. You have to pick some unusual (weirdest thing that ever happened to me stories from people) and some everyday, boring stuff. I recently wrote an article for a new release from an author who was writing about a kidnapping where the person was taken in Mexico. She wanted some of the characters to live there and some to be new to the area, so she spent a lot of time watching video blogs of residents and from U.S. ex-pats who had moved down there. YouTube is a great thing for research for the sights and sounds. The smells is harder but still possible by finding restaurants of the style of food from the area.

I remember getting some letters from a nephew who was working in the Peace Corps in Gabon in West Africa where part of his evening each day was spent sharpening his machete because the jungle literally grew so fast that he would have to cut vines in the morning just to get out of his house! I've desperately wanted to use that in a book, but haven't had the right setting for it. But the little day to day things are really important and can add to the experience for the reader.

EvolvingK
09-08-2014, 06:44 PM
It's a bit of a strange business model, but so long as you're happy with the compensation, it's all good. :) I do wonder what his fans would think if they discovered the books were all ghostwritten. People don't mind ghostwritten non-fiction. Fiction is a trickier animal. But again, so long as everyone is cool, no problem.

The biggest thing with writing outside your own experience, whether race or sexual orientation or background, is to read/watch as much as you can. You have to pick some unusual (weirdest thing that ever happened to me stories from people) and some everyday, boring stuff. I recently wrote an article for a new release from an author who was writing about a kidnapping where the person was taken in Mexico. She wanted some of the characters to live there and some to be new to the area, so she spent a lot of time watching video blogs of residents and from U.S. ex-pats who had moved down there. YouTube is a great thing for research for the sights and sounds. The smells is harder but still possible by finding restaurants of the style of food from the area.

I remember getting some letters from a nephew who was working in the Peace Corps in Gabon in West Africa where part of his evening each day was spent sharpening his machete because the jungle literally grew so fast that he would have to cut vines in the morning just to get out of his house! I've desperately wanted to use that in a book, but haven't had the right setting for it. But the little day to day things are really important and can add to the experience for the reader.

it is a little wacky, that I grant. But it's so nice to find someone to freelance for that a.) pays on time and b.) pays fairly that I'm working with it.

And yeah, I've had a good laugh looking at the reviews on Amazon of some of the books, and the reviews are all "I love this author, how can she write so quickly, I buy everything she writes!!!" and I think to myself, oh, if only you knew.

He also offered to buy my actual fiction...I politely declined. No thanks, man, I don't want to be doing the ghostwriting thing the rest of my life if I don't have to.

Thank you for the tips; they are greatly appreciated.

Roxxsmom
09-08-2014, 11:39 PM
I'm glad you mentioned this. My most recent story is a fantasy set in an Africa-esque land, where the heroine is black. I wanted the hero to notice and like her skin and hair, the same way he'd admire them if she was white, but when I go through the manuscript again I'll check that this doesn't come off as disproportionate or exotifying.

There's one part where he thinks she'd even be pretty if she wore white (white clothes have a certain not-good symbolic value), because that color would make her look darker and more vivid. Hopefully that isn't too bad.

ETA : Also no references to chocolate, coffee, mocha, caramel or raisins.

I suppose it's possible that one is fetishizing white beauty when a pov goes on about the creamy whiteness of a female character's skin, her rosebud lips, or how elegantly pale she is or how her hair is like spun gold too. But of course, it's not happening in a vacuum. I'm not particularly offended when people who look like me are portrayed as an "exotic other" as seen through the eyes of someone who isn't used to white people, because it's been so darned rare for that to happen in literature.

People who look like me are usually portrayed as the default norm.

I actually chuckle when I read something in a pov where a white person is ugly by a person of color who is seeing them for the first time, because it turns stereotypes on their heads. But this would be offensive if it were reversed.

This gets into the whole mare's nest of how to show race through the pov of someone who really is racist, or at least ignorant, without making it too uncomfortable for many people to read.

Marian Perera
09-08-2014, 11:50 PM
I suppose it's possible that one is fetishizing white beauty when a pov goes on about the creamy whiteness of a female character's skin, her rosebud lips, or how elegantly pale she is or how her hair is like spun gold too.

No, that always sounds ridiculous to me. I just hoped "darker and more vivid in comparison" to the white clothes (something no one else in their culture wears) didn't sound like I was making her skin color something exotic.

I also mention her full mouth, dark eyes and curly black hair as other things the hero notices and likes about her, but not all in one big cluster of description.


But of course, it's not happening in a vacuum. I'm not particularly offended when people who look like me are portrayed as an "exotic other" as seen through the eyes of someone who isn't used to white people, because it's been so darned rare for that to happen in literature.At the end of the story, the hero and heroine meet another woman who's a pale-skinned blonde, and she reminds him of a snow leopard in a pride of lions.

The story's already out on submission, so hopefully nothing's too bad. *crosses fingers*

Jack Asher
09-09-2014, 12:47 AM
No, that always sounds ridiculous to me. I just hoped "darker and more vivid in comparison" to the white clothes (something no one else in their culture wears)
Maybe you can be forgiven as you live in Vermont, but Hispanics wear white all the time.

Roxxsmom
09-09-2014, 01:04 AM
Maybe you can be forgiven as you live in Vermont, but Hispanics wear white all the time.

I'm guessing this is in the context of her fantasy-world culture, though.

Marian Perera
09-09-2014, 01:24 AM
Maybe you can be forgiven as you live in Vermont, but Hispanics wear white all the time.

I just blinked at this and thought, "Vermont?"

Thanks, Roxxsmom. I also scrolled back to make sure that I'd mentioned this was a fantasy set in a land like Africa (and yes, I did). No one in the story is Hispanic.

Jack Asher
09-09-2014, 02:04 AM
I just blinked at this and thought, "Vermont?"

Thanks, Roxxsmom. I also scrolled back to make sure that I'd mentioned this was a fantasy set in a land like Africa (and yes, I did). No one in the story is Hispanic.
Oh balls, I'm sorry. I'm still getting used to everyone's avatar on here.

Carry on.

J.S.F.
09-09-2014, 02:26 AM
...I actually chuckle when I read something in a pov where a white person is ugly by a person of color who is seeing them for the first time, because it turns stereotypes on their heads. But this would be offensive if it were reversed.
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I don't chuckle at all, because it can be racist in and of itself depending on how it's handled. Granted, being white is the default in our writing culture and I'm all for different colors making their mark as it were, but since when did two wrongs make a right?

I remember reading novels written by PoC where white people got stereotyped as being fat, loud, and obnoxious while that PoC was, well, not. So while some may see that as a comeuppance of sorts, to me it's just as bad as someone stereotyping blacks as this sort of thing or Hispanics as that sort of thing and Asians as whatever.

Roxxsmom
09-09-2014, 07:26 AM
---

I don't chuckle at all, because it can be racist in and of itself depending on how it's handled. Granted, being white is the default in our writing culture and I'm all for different colors making their mark as it were, but since when did two wrongs make a right?



Since many of us came of age in a world where white beauty ideas are held up as "the best" (and when beauty of other groups is acknowledged it's in an, "aren't they exotic?" sort of way) and people of color sometimes feel compelled to straighten (or curl when that's in fashion) and dye their hair, bleach their skin (sometimes even in rather private parts of their bodies), and have plastic surgery so they have features that look more European and a beauty that is less "exotic" by the standards of "mainstream" society, which does not acknowledge them as normal.

And since it's not unusual for people to actually respond with fear, or even distaste, when they encounter someone who looks very unusual to them. It may be a perfectly legitimate way for a given character to respond if the writer is trying to get across that this person is very insular or sheltered.

The trick, I think, is to portray it in a way that makes it clear the author isn't sanctioning the attitude. If the author is white, of course, it's a bit more obvious that they're not in favor of anti-white prejudices than if they're portraying prejudice against someone who isn't white.


---I remember reading novels written by PoC where white people got stereotyped as being fat, loud, and obnoxious while that PoC was, well, not. So while some may see that as a comeuppance of sorts, to me it's just as bad as someone stereotyping blacks as this sort of thing or Hispanics as that sort of thing and Asians as whatever.

I don't think it's just as bad, because white people have not historically been denied anything as a consequence of these stereotypes. It's sort of like the reverse sexism argument. There may be a few privileges that come with being female or a PoC (and some negative stereotypes associated with whiteness and maleness), but far more benefits come with being male and white. That's why guys often chuckle and say, "Yeah, we're just bad at housework, so we shouldn't be expected to do it," while women tend to bristle when they're told they're bad at analytical thought and shouldn't be expected to perform well in STEM professions.

For the record, I agree that all stereotypes are bad, but I think ones levied against groups who have historically (and still do) have less wealth, power and social status are more harmful.

Fruitbat
09-09-2014, 08:15 AM
OP, obviously, no one "has to" answer, but as I said I'd seek out and weigh advice from those who are actually of the particular group in question far more heavily (which I am not). Good luck!

Also, I agree with JSF in that I do not appreciate being disrespected or insulted any more than anyone else does, regardless of majority/minority status. The general public doesn't know a thing about who we or any of our particular ancestors are or what they went through. They shouldn't assume it was all privileged, walking on other group's backs, and therefore deserving of taking a punch and shutting up about it based on race alone. o.O

M.N Thorne
09-09-2014, 02:55 PM
Evolving K, I have a few answers to your question about latinos on Texas border. First of all, East Texas is different from the Texas/Mexican border. Secondly, I would first try to get into your non-white characters' mind. Since your story is set in a border town.... then you need to write realistic characters. You need to go to the library and learn about Tejano,Banda, Tex-Mex and Norteno music. If your characters do not listen to this type of music. It should always be in the background somewhere as part of their cultural heritage. Also you should watch a couple of films set in Texas or Southwest involving Latino characters such as "Lone Star" (1996), Gas Food Lodging (1992), Luminarias (2001), Star Maps (1997), Bless Me, Ultima (2013), Smile Now Cry Later (2013) and Crazy from the heart (1991). These films can help you create more realistic Latino or Mexican-American characters. I hope this helps you out.:)



I have a job ghostwriting erotica, and the current series I'm working on is set in East Texas. I'm from Vermont.

Setting a story on the Mexican border, I'm well aware of the grossness of white-washing my cast, but I find myself really nervous about getting it wrong as I write the various characters who are non-white. Some things I'm actively doing: describing peoples' skin colors with actual words, not foods, watching out for unintentional analogies (all the good guys are white and all the bad guys are PoC).

I guess some tips on how to make a big ass out of myself is what I'm looking for. My name won't be on this work at all, but in a weird way that makes me even more cautious, because I'll never be able to apologize for it or fix it if I get it wrong.

Roxxsmom
09-10-2014, 03:23 AM
OP, obviously, no one "has to" answer, but as I said I'd seek out and weigh advice from those who are actually of the particular group in question far more heavily (which I am not). Good luck!

Also, I agree with JSF in that I do not appreciate being disrespected or insulted any more than anyone else does, regardless of majority/minority status. The general public doesn't know a thing about who we or any of our particular ancestors are or what they went through. They shouldn't assume it was all privileged, walking on other group's backs, and therefore deserving of taking a punch and shutting up about it based on race alone. o.O

Sorry, if you thought I was saying that. I wasn't :(

I was just trying to explain why I personally, as a white person, don't feel terribly insulted if there's a pov character in a novel who thinks whiteness is strange, unattractive, or exotic. If I had to deal with that stereotype every day of my life and everywhere I went, it would be different though. But I don't.

calieber
09-10-2014, 07:02 AM
The biggest thing I've noticed in books with a strong relationship element is exotifying the PoC/non-white love interest, in a way that makes the interest in them seem to be a race-based fetish. And as I only usually read the opening chapters in SYW, it's amazing how the author manages to create this impression when the characters have only just met.

This (including the snipped-out part) is valuable to me, because I'm writing about a character in an interracial relationship. I don't want to make it a fetish thing, but I honestly don't know if it would have occurred to me to avoid it specifically.

Actually, none of the major (or secondary) characters are of an ethnic background I'm really familiar with, hm.

J.S.F.
09-10-2014, 09:07 AM
I was just trying to explain why I personally, as a white person, don't feel terribly insulted if there's a pov character in a novel who thinks whiteness is strange, unattractive, or exotic. If I had to deal with that stereotype every day of my life and everywhere I went, it would be different though. But I don't.
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Take it from a white person who does deal with that pretty much every day of my life. Half my life has been spent here--Japan--and yeah, sometimes it really pisses me off.

kuwisdelu
09-10-2014, 09:20 AM
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Take it from a white person who does deal with that pretty much every day of my life. Half my life has been spent here--Japan--and yeah, sometimes it really pisses me off.

But Japan is not the West, no?

Context is important.

J.S.F.
09-10-2014, 09:36 AM
But Japan is not the West, no?

Context is important.

---

True, it's not the West, but MY context is that I get looks and stares and finger pointing pretty much every day of the week and it ain't because of my rugged good looks or incredible magnetism. My children--who are bi-racial--have gotten the same thing along with being asked on a daily basis by some--and not all--"are you really Japanese"? My wife was asked by a number of her friends why she married a gaijin when she could have married a regular Japanese--and to this day, almost seventeen years after the fact, some of them still bring it up. So yeah, I'd say MY context is pretty important.

EvolvingK
09-11-2014, 04:16 AM
This (including the snipped-out part) is valuable to me, because I'm writing about a character in an interracial relationship. I don't want to make it a fetish thing, but I honestly don't know if it would have occurred to me to avoid it specifically.

Actually, none of the major (or secondary) characters are of an ethnic background I'm really familiar with, hm.

My experience with this comes from reading and writing characters who have LGBT and kink backgrounds, so it may not be the same, but I'll put it out there in case it's helpful.

The biggest thing I see is that if two characters are attracted solely because of a kink, or because they're both gay, or whatever, the relationship is going to feel weird and strange and fetishy to the reader, especially if for one of the people this is the first time they've had this sort of relationship. As long as the writer is careful to be clear that these two people like the same music, or entertain each other with dry senses of humor, AND ALSO share a fondness for being tied up and tickled by ferret tails, it's usually going to be okay.

If the *main reason*, or even the perceived main reason, that two characters are attracted to each other is the kink, or the ethnicity, that's when I think the fetish question strongly comes into play.

Fruitbat
09-11-2014, 04:20 AM
. If the *main reason*, or even the perceived main reason, that two characters are attracted to each other is the kink, or the ethnicity, that's when I think the fetish question strongly comes into play.

Then again, it's erotica and people do have and indulge all kinds of interests or fetishes, right? So I think it depends on what your potential audience thinks, not what everybody thinks.

Polenth
09-11-2014, 05:37 AM
Then again, it's erotica and people do have and indulge all kinds of interests or fetishes, right? So I think it depends on what your potential audience thinks, not what everybody thinks.

Racial fetishes exist, but they're not happy fun things that lead to hot relationships. Erotica that portrays it as such is romanticising something that's creepy in real life, and often leads to abusive situations. A lot of erotica readers may not care, but this is the PoC forum... we aim to do better than continue on with harmful stereotyping simply because it's the way the majority does something.

Erotica's not a genre I like to read, but I have friends that do. I see no reason why they shouldn't be able to pick up a book and see a relationship they find hot, rather than one that makes them deeply uncomfortable because the person like them is portrayed as a fetish object rather than a human. You can't have a fetish for black people in the same way as you can have a fetish for being covered in cranberry sauce. They aren't equivalents.

M.N Thorne
09-11-2014, 07:20 AM
Actually, I would like to add to your statements about racial fetishes and erotica. As a person of color and someone who actually works in highly sexualized industry, racial fetishes are meant to make people uncomfortable and that is why it is hot to many people. Frankly, I do not see raceplay becoming mainstream even in BDSM erotica circles.You see, non-white racial fetishes are about racism, sexual abuse, power, and control. However, it is just a taboo fantasy that many high-power people enjoy. Currently, I have an long-term erotica contact with a young Christian Gray type of businessman into fetishizing Asian, Black, and Latina women. He was quite disappointed in the lack of great raceplay stories.

However, there is the white racial fetish that deals with domination, control, European Colonialism and whitewashing one's racial identity. I write custom raceplay erotica stories for tons of high power young minority women into white male racial domination. Many of these women often are disappointed by the lack of raceplay stories in mainstream erotica as well.These young women romanticised becoming a racial fetish and being sexually control by white men. They think it is cute for them to long for Alexander Skarsgard types calling them racial slurs:poke: Stereotyping is a large part of the raceplay fetish. Raceplay is a large and growing fetish in the BDSM world.Just a lot of people do not like talking about it. I must agree with you that these stories do not lead to happy relationships. However, I do not believe that is what the OP is trying to do. She just wants to present pocs in a realistic and non-fetish way. I hope to give you more insight into racial fetishes and erotica.



Racial fetishes exist, but they're not happy fun things that lead to hot relationships. Erotica that portrays it as such is romanticising something that's creepy in real life, and often leads to abusive situations. A lot of erotica readers may not care, but this is the PoC forum... we aim to do better than continue on with harmful stereotyping simply because it's the way the majority does something.

Erotica's not a genre I like to read, but I have friends that do. I see no reason why they shouldn't be able to pick up a book and see a relationship they find hot, rather than one that makes them deeply uncomfortable because the person like them is portrayed as a fetish object rather than a human. You can't have a fetish for black people in the same way as you can have a fetish for being covered in cranberry sauce. They aren't equivalents.

Fruitbat
09-11-2014, 08:03 AM
@Polenth- I am answering a writing question with an answer that applies generally, whatever the particular issue is. If someone chooses to write for any specialized audience, whatever you and I may think of it, their main concern is still what that particular audience wants and expects, not us. Therefore, opinions from the general public may just not apply, that's all.

EvolvingK
09-11-2014, 06:17 PM
Then again, it's erotica and people do have and indulge all kinds of interests or fetishes, right? So I think it depends on what your potential audience thinks, not what everybody thinks.

Well, I was responding here to the person asking about portraying an interracial relationship, and how to avoid creating the perception of attraction only to the exotic.

That said, I don't think that just because erotica is often about indulging things in fiction that might be too much in real life -- I will read and enjoy much heavier BDSM stuff than I'm likely to engage in, just for your friendly TMI example -- I don't think that means that authors shouldn't be aware of and avoid the kind of unconscious exoticism that we've been talking about in this thread.

Kitty27
09-13-2014, 02:06 AM
Writing POC characters involves the two R's,research and respect.

Research the people and culture you are writing about. Talk to someone of that group if you can. By no means are we all a monopoly,so what one person likes,another will hiss in pure fury at.

See the raceplay M.N.Thorne mentions. As a Black woman and knowing our history during slavery, I absolutely couldn't read it. Someone else will be goo gaga for it as Thorne said.

Do your very best to respect culture. One of the worst things I've seen was a writer who thought being raised in Jamaica and being raised in the US meant the characters were the same because they were Black. She didn't take into account cultural differences at all.

Roxxsmom
09-13-2014, 06:07 AM
I would think that the best way to portray an interracial relationship without making it appear like the author is exoticizing or otherizing anyone is to focus on the things the two people have in common that brought them together, and certainly don't make it all, or even mostly, about the physical. Also, I'd think one shouldn't be ignoring the real issues that exist in the place and time of the story for couples from different racial or cultural backgrounds, certainly, but unless it's specifically an issue story, not to have these problems be the main focus either.


---

True, it's not the West, but MY context is that I get looks and stares and finger pointing pretty much every day of the week and it ain't because of my rugged good looks or incredible magnetism.

Oh definitely, and I'm sorry I made it sound like I was dismissing your own experiences. Context is indeed everything.

TheWordsmith
10-14-2014, 06:35 PM
I'm not an American , so I have no idea about East Texas . However, I understand the problems you might be having . Most people are the same , regardless of their origins . We all want our children to do well , our parents to be fit and healthy, and our bank balance to be in the black . Don't worry about being white , just see others as you see your self.

Sorry, stephenf, but this is just wrong. Well, on one level, anyway.

Of course, all people are basically the same. They all have goals, desires, hopes, fears. But to categorically assume that ALL people are all the same regardless of what color package they are wrapped in is an invalid assumption.

Consider the Native American Nations: They have lived for generations with the history of Euro-Whites who came into their land, ripped them from their homes, shoved them around North America like so many pawns on a chessboard. Then, for good measure, rounded them up and put them in restricted areas, called reservations. These reservations were restricted access and guarded by U.S. military.
This is part of their history. Their grandparents and great-grandparents lived through this nightmare. Their parents grew up with tales of this mistreatment and so did they. It has become a systemic part of their lives.

African-Americans? There may still be people alive today whose grandparents were slaves. They grew up hearing tales of that life. It's odd that, just last night, I found myself wondering at how much of that becomes an integral part of who the next generations become. Certainly, it affects the way people look at 'things' and situations. It colors their outlook on their world.

And Hispanics, too, have an American torture story. And what was that about? Why the American invasion of a foreign country and the taking over of land belonging to that foreign country. (That would be Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma, Nevada, California...) And the Mexicans were overpowered by "Texans" from Kentucky, the Carolinas, Massachusetts - almost anywhere but Texas. And yet the United States continues to swear this was a Texas war of independence, struggling to break free from Mexican rule. In exchange for...? American dominance?

But, if you think these historical ethnic experiences don't have at least some effect on subsequent generations, both in how they respond to former dominators as well as how they are treated, then you aren't paying attention. Consider that, how you relate to the world is moulded, in great part, by how you were raised. And how you were raised was largely contingent upon how your parents were raised and they, in turn, grew up with some bias based on how their parents grew up.

So, yes. You don't want to base your treatment of characters solely on their "wrapper" anymore than you would judge a gift based upon its outside wrapping. You will certainly notice it, but that is not the package. It is merely the outside of it. And neither would you want to treat your characters with any similarly dismissive attitude. You DO want to treat your characters all the same to one extent. You need to consider each one based upon the backstory you have developed for that one character.

Of course, the flip side of that is, EVERYONE has their own baggage, unique to them, which should be considered in drawing and presenting the character. And, regardless of the history of each, they all need to be treated as individuals. So, back to "square one": To arbitrarily see all of your characters as essentially the same is to not see them for themselves but as a masse. Think about the terra cotta soldiers. At first glance, they all appeared the same. But, a closer look revealed that each one was made with a unique, individual appearance.

The Chinese creators of those terra cotta soldiers knew that most people are not the same, in large part because of their origins. And we cannot just see others as we see ourselves because we are not all clones. We ARE all different, sometimes in subtle sometimes obvious ways.

Sorry. Didn't mean for this to become a dissertation the condition of man. :/

Mutive
10-14-2014, 09:05 PM
And Hispanics, too, have an American torture story. And what was that about? Why the American invasion of a foreign country and the taking over of land belonging to that foreign country. (That would be Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma, Nevada, California...) And the Mexicans were overpowered by "Texans" from Kentucky, the Carolinas, Massachusetts - almost anywhere but Texas. And yet the United States continues to swear this was a Texas war of independence, struggling to break free from Mexican rule. In exchange for...? American dominance?


Eh, probably not so much if your character is a wealthy, white Hispanic who recently moved to Houston for a cushy oil job. :)

Especially with Hispanic characters, I'd pay attention to underlying race (Hispanics can be white, black, indigenous, Asian, mixed, etc.) and class. Someone who's ancestors were wealthy land owners in Mexico (or some of the founding fathers of their hometown) is going to have very different influences than the descendant of Haitian slaves. They both are Hispanic.

TheWordsmith
10-14-2014, 10:53 PM
Eh, probably not so much if your character is a wealthy, white Hispanic who recently moved to Houston for a cushy oil job. :)

Especially with Hispanic characters, I'd pay attention to underlying race (Hispanics can be white, black, indigenous, Asian, mixed, etc.) and class. Someone who's ancestors were wealthy land owners in Mexico (or some of the founding fathers of their hometown) is going to have very different influences than the descendant of Haitian slaves. They both are Hispanic.

Good point, Mutive. But there's a lot more in your comments than even you might realize. And that's the globally applicable truth that most of us are truly not of one, "pure", un-diluted ancestry.

Thanks.

Some people excel because of their background, others in spite of it.

Reziac
10-19-2014, 08:41 PM
Especially with Hispanic characters, I'd pay attention to underlying race (Hispanics can be white, black, indigenous, Asian, mixed, etc.) and class. Someone who's ancestors were wealthy land owners in Mexico (or some of the founding fathers of their hometown) is going to have very different influences than the descendant of Haitian slaves. They both are Hispanic.

I've been told that in Texas, at least as of about 30 years ago, there was also a difference between "Spanish American" and "Mexican", and that miscalling the former a "Mexican" is fightin' words. This apparently derived from the old class differences between upperclass folk of mostly Spanish extraction, and native Mexican Indians. I have no idea if it still applies today.

Okelly65
11-27-2014, 05:19 AM
Lol it boggles my mind to drive an hour and be in another state.... It takes me an hour to get to the other side of Houston. what? you must be driving from one side of loop 610 to the other LOL. It used to take me two, sometimes two and half hours to drive from one side of Houston to the other. Thank god I moved.

Houston city of the eternal road construction.

Okelly65
11-27-2014, 05:21 AM
I've been told that in Texas, at least as of about 30 years ago, there was also a difference between "Spanish American" and "Mexican", and that miscalling the former a "Mexican" is fightin' words. This apparently derived from the old class differences between upperclass folk of mostly Spanish extraction, and native Mexican Indians. I have no idea if it still applies today.

I think what you've heard, had to do with the Tejano's. the Hispanics whose families date back to fighting for the independence of Texas. (yes there were quite a few who fought for Texas independence) The ones I knew hated being called Mexican.