In Which I Risk Uniting a Divided World in Disdain for Me

So, let me try to keep this brief.

Diversity in fiction. Race representation. White male privilege. Etc.

People might assume that since I’m a brown-skinned female, I’d be all up in arms about this kind of thing.

People would be wrong. Call me a privileged white man, but I kind of actually want the whole conversation to die.

My problem with it is that it is WAY too focused on appearances, seeming to imply that, if I don’t see a character who in some way looks like me, I’m too shallow to be able to identify with said character. Like the only way I can see myself in fictional characters is if they share my gender and skin tone and culture. (Like skin tone has anything to do with culture. But I’m not going into all that, right now.) Like the only way I can know I have value as a person is if my media tells me so.

Personally, I wouldn’t much care if I never read a book or watched a movie with a single “person of color” in it again – not because I am at all opposed to their inclusion, not because I don’t enjoy a wide variety of humanity to look upon, but because, to me, it does not matter.

I’m not going to automatically root for a character because she’s a she or dark or ethnically-featured. You’ll never hear me complain about the utter dominance of light men in my favorite film trilogy, “Lord of the Rings ”. Color alone isn’t a person, let alone a whole group of people, and it isn’t their story. It is, at most, only one part of it. And believe it or not, it may not be what they consider to be the most important part.

Coloring outside the lines as Will Scarlet (white), Elphaba (green), and one of the Inkborn (blue-tinged black/brown) from “A Morrow More”.
Coloring outside the lines as Will Scarlet (white), Elphaba (green), and one of the Inkborn (blue-tinged black/brown) from “A Morrow More (One More Day Anthology)”.

People like to claim we’re all the same in the ways that matter, all one big happy world of sisters and brothers, one all-inclusive human race. But then they turn around and rage about how this or that sub-race isn’t getting enough face time.

Am I the only one who sees the massive contradiction here?

If we’re all one, why do we care? If we’re all on the same team, what difference does it make? If race isn’t important, why do we howl about how watching a movie gives us snow blindness with the apparently oh-so-glaring lack of darkly pigmented skin? Why do girls get cranky if they don’t feel a story gives them a “strong” heroine to latch onto?

Reality check, People of Earth: This conversation does not appear to be bringing different types of people closer together so much as drawing the lines more sharply between them. (…And even vilifying whiteness and devaluing maleness in the process. Whee-ha, more racism and sexism. That’ll solve the world’s problems.) You need to learn to stop harping on your differences in order to appreciate your similarities in the ways that actually count. Not trying to call everyone together around the campfire for a few stanzas of “Kumbaya ”, or anything, I’m just saying: If this black female has never had any difficulty identifying with white male characters, what is everyone else’s problem?

13 thoughts on “In Which I Risk Uniting a Divided World in Disdain for Me

  1. Can I just say I love this? I just hate when people start villifying whites. I’m off in the corner going, hey, I’m white, and I’ve never done anything like that. I hate when people will lump a group of people together and judge them all on their shared traits, rather than what makes them individuals. A million thanks for this post!

    • A million nods of welcome, Miranda. I’m glad the post connected with you. Calling white people (or whatever group of people) the problem when it’s just straight up people that are the problem only keeps the problems perpetuating longer. Heck, if anything, I’ve been guilty of taking it a step farther by thinking, “Oh, you’re human? Well, we know everything wrong with you, don’t we?” Let’s all bring it back to individual responsibility! Every group’s got its nutjobs, but they’ve got their treasures, too.

  2. You know I love you Danielle, this just makes that love expand, grow and blow out of the top of my head!! Very well said my dear!! HUZZAH!!

  3. Thank you so much for this post! I completely agree, and I think this is so true in all areas of human difference. Yes, it’s important to recognize that we’re not all the same…but the problem is, people get so focused on how we’re different, that it keeps us all separated. A truly inclusive world would be one in which people are celebrated for their own selves, not because of their heritage, appearance, or lifestyle!

  4. Thank you… I hate to say this but it seems as a white girl when I say such everyone well doesn’t want to listen… I mean when I read a book I imagine the people all kinds of which a ways… it’s just however they fit in my mind… and in movies it’s like whatever… people want to get rid of racism but it seems like they want to make everyone notice race as much as possible… we should stop trying to identify what’s on the outside and start looking for what people have on the inside… this was a wonderful article… I’m glad you wrote it… and I’m going to share it right now…

    • Thank you, both for commenting and sharing, and you’re welcome. Yeah, I guess I can get why some people would be less inclined to receive such statements from a white person. Cheers to a chance to use my “people of color privilege” for the greater good, eh? ;P

  5. Reblogged this on A drip of Truth and commented:
    this was such a good article and so true… we need to focus more on who people are and not just what they look like… that includes the real and the fictitious alike…

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