Happy MLK, Jr. Day!
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card.
It is from February 20th, Sarah Palin's Facebook page. I don't care if Ms. Palin wrote that herself, or one of her many handlers thought it would be a great way to keep her in the news; whether or not those are her words, this is the persona we have been trained to know as fact. Her wording is both condescending and ignorant. Committing to racial division by putting those historically on the short end of the stick on the defensive? Egads, it is mind-boggling. That's like the bully yanking the kid he just knocked down to his feet saying, "Come on. I pushed you down five minutes ago. This is NOW, and now I'm helping you up. See? Even Steven." But in her completely idiotic way, she kind of makes a point (anti-point?) I want to make with this post, and that's this: When it stops being specifically about race, we've leapt over a huge hurdle.
In comments for Karin's post, we discussed Harry Potter, and the fact that for a modern work of fantasy, there were no characters of any color other than white in the major roles. How fantastic it would have been had there been, especially for children, to see themselves in those heroic roles! I won't go through the whole conversation, but it got me thinking. There were, among the minor players, other-than-white characters. What's wonderful, to me, is the fact that they were not white wasn't a point to be made. They were characters. Period. Kingsley Shacklebolt. Padma and Pavarti Patil. Dean Thomas and Lee Jordan. Cho Chang. Hogwarts is an international school. These characters did not seem forced but completely right.
HRB is doing the Ruins Excavation (woman of color archaeologist) anthology, and it's been getting positive response. The project was created specifically to focus upon a group so ridiculously unrepresented in fantasy and science fiction. No "race card," but a true celebration, and the hope that it will push forward a trend that stops being a specific goal, and instead a naturally occurring event.
|Zihariel: Finder Artwork by|
I will admit, when I wrote Finder, I set it in a non-European setting for a reason. I wanted to diverge from the training I'd been giving myself in that pseudo-European world. What resulted was Zihariel, and with her a whole cast of non-white characters that carries through A Time Never Lived, Beyond the Gate, and The Shadows One Walks. I set out to be different, but ended up with what I hope are characters judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.
|Fraeda: The Shadows One Walks|
artwork by Annette Spurgeon
For now, there is an unfortunate need to make it a point to get racial diversity into our fiction. I look forward to the time it just is, no point to be made. There is a whole lot more to say on this subject, and I hope it gets said in comments; we at Heroines of Fantasy have a 500 word limit on our posts, and I've already gone over.