There’s something I’ve noticed with a lot of stories written by non-Black, non-POC authors. It’s the addition of real world racism in a world that is absolutely fictitious.
A story can take place on a planet in a different galaxy, a world with different continents and with wild magic. With many of these stories, the worldbuilding will be intense, deep. You’ll get a real feel for the world.
And then real world racism makes it’s way to the page. Cultures that have had the serial numbers filed off to thinly veil them are plastered inside and face actual racism. They’ll suffer the same traumas of slavery, geocide and colonization.
When asked why, some authors will stay silent and just ignore it or call people overly sensitive. When you’re a member of a culture that has been trampled on from day one and it continues to happen, it might actually make that wound understandably raw.
Then there are authors who say “well it’s historically accurate.” Claiming that since the events happened in the real world, they have to put it in their fantasy books. Since there’s a precedent and all.
But it’s not historically accurate, is it? They’ve created a who new world with magic and monsters, deities and space travel and yet, somehow, on planets that aren’t Earth with races that aren’t real–that same racism exists.
Not to mention if you bring up the fact that if they want to go the historically accurate rout then there should be trash and fecal matter in the streets and the women didn’t shave—that never goes over well.
Then there’s Shadow and Bone. A series that lacked in diversity. There was none in the books. Which is strange when you think about all the cultures that exist in the area the lore was taken from.
So in an effort to fix the diversity issues, the actors were cast diversely.
And real world racism was added in.
In the show, the main character is now half-Asian. And she suffers hatred for it.
The world of Shadow and Bone was amazing, I loved the magic system and the story. But the introduction of real world racism in the show has made it a difficult watch.
As many authors have said, like Neil Gaiman in his Masterclass “You are God” when you write.
So, if you’re God in your work. Why add racism? Why add hatred to a story where it initially didn’t exist.
The lives of diverse people are not all suffering due to who we are. We can slay dragons and wield magic without also needing to suffer vitriol we deal with in the real world.
If you can create a world with magic, you can create a world without hate.
And if you can’t, then you need to ask yourself why.