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Post Reply Being an African-American and a writer
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Hoosierville
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Posted 8/25/16
I'm kind of curious what your writing now lol. Link plz
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 8/25/16
Thanks for the comment, cool people.
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 8/25/16

Rujikin wrote:

I'm kind of curious what your writing now lol. Link plz


There is no link. I haven't posted it online yet.
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Posted 8/25/16

qualeshia3 wrote:




Well, my ancestors are African. I just call myself African-American because I dislike being called Black.


This is a random thought that popped into my head and doesn't really have to do with the topic at hand, but I wonder if there's a universal term for black people aside from "Black" or "African-American"--like how white people can be referred to as Causasian.
In regards to your topic though, I can definitely say that I've worried about the same thing, although having more to do with drawing comics than with writing novels. But in the end, I just think of this quote:
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." --Cyril Connolly

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Hoosierville
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Posted 8/25/16

TheAZ126 wrote:


qualeshia3 wrote:




Well, my ancestors are African. I just call myself African-American because I dislike being called Black.


This is a random thought that popped into my head and doesn't really have to do with the topic at hand, but I wonder if there's a universal term for black people aside from "Black" or "African-American"--like how white people can be referred to as Causasian.
In regards to your topic though, I can definitely say that I've worried about the same thing, although having more to do with drawing comics than with writing novels. But in the end, I just think of this quote:
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." --Cyril Connolly



Can we just stop using that term... It's so outdated and it refers to people from the Caucasus mountains and Europeans have little if anything in common with those mountain monkeys.

So why do we call white people Caucasians? The term was popularized by the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who in 1795 divided the human species into five races: Caucasian, the "white" race; Mongolian, the "yellow" race; Malayan, the "brown" race; Ethiopian, the "black" race; and American, the "red" race. He considered the Caucasians to be the first race on Earth, consistent with the common conception of the Caucasus as a place of human origin. The Bible describes Noah landing his ark at a place called Mount Ararat, which was thought by Europeans of Blumenbach's time to be on the modern Turkish-Armenian border. (Ararat is still the name of the largest mountain in Turkey.) In Greek mythology, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock in the Caucasus.
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Posted 8/25/16

Rujikin wrote:



Can we just stop using that term... It's so outdated and it refers to people from the Caucasus mountains and Europeans have little if anything in common with those mountain monkeys.

So why do we call white people Caucasians? The term was popularized by the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who in 1795 divided the human species into five races: Caucasian, the "white" race; Mongolian, the "yellow" race; Malayan, the "brown" race; Ethiopian, the "black" race; and American, the "red" race. He considered the Caucasians to be the first race on Earth, consistent with the common conception of the Caucasus as a place of human origin. The Bible describes Noah landing his ark at a place called Mount Ararat, which was thought by Europeans of Blumenbach's time to be on the modern Turkish-Armenian border. (Ararat is still the name of the largest mountain in Turkey.) In Greek mythology, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock in the Caucasus.


Oh, wow, I had no idea; that is outdated... I wonder why it's still so widely used... Now that I know of the term's origins, it reminds me a little of how Native Americans are sometimes referred to as "Indians."
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27 / F / The Ivory Tower
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Posted 8/25/16

SnowFox wrote:

To some extent, you're always going to write based on your experiences. And we live in a society that is very much dominated by images of white people, particularly male. I'll frequently try to write a scene without addressing the race or gender of the character. I can always go back and add those kinds of details later (unless it's critical to the plot). Sometimes you'll find that making a character of African, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, or Asian descent adds something that you didn't even realize was missing. Sometimes it doesn't matter, so don't add unnecessary details. And sometimes the character just needs to be white. But even then, you're not dealing with a generic "white"--there's so many different cultures, especially in our modern, globalized world.

If your concern is the "African-American Experience," keep in mind that there is no single experience. I recall one author was writing from the perspective of her Asian-American experience, and the publisher kept complaining that her character was too American and not Asian enough. Total BS. The important thing is to be true to what your experience is, and that will help breathe life into anything you write.


This is what I was going to say; SnowFox is correct: if you grew up in American culture and your ideas about fantasy are based at all in what Americans would call fantasy, you're going to be writing something similar to what "white people write." For whatever you write is an incredibly complicated function of your environment, history, and biology, heavily influenced by social suggestion. So you shouldn't think that writing fantasy means you've escaped the issues of the real world; that is impossible.

Ultimately, though, what this means is that you cannot write what "white people write" unless you're white, because you don't experience society as a white person experiences it. As SnowFox says, there is no single "African-American experience," and since you are African-American what you write counts as part of the African-American experience. The idea that an African-American must write about something that's been rubber-stamped as "African-American" is in fact oppressive, and it ought to make you wonder who decided what gets stamped that way.

Also, you might want to ask yourself why you're having these concerns. "Being forced to care" is one of the ways oppression works, and in American society black writers are going to have to worry about more and work harder than white writers. But unless what you write is good enough that it becomes widespread, you're not going to have to worry about what people think.
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Posted 8/26/16

auroraloose wrote:


SnowFox wrote:

To some extent, you're always going to write based on your experiences. And we live in a society that is very much dominated by images of white people, particularly male. I'll frequently try to write a scene without addressing the race or gender of the character. I can always go back and add those kinds of details later (unless it's critical to the plot). Sometimes you'll find that making a character of African, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, or Asian descent adds something that you didn't even realize was missing. Sometimes it doesn't matter, so don't add unnecessary details. And sometimes the character just needs to be white. But even then, you're not dealing with a generic "white"--there's so many different cultures, especially in our modern, globalized world.

If your concern is the "African-American Experience," keep in mind that there is no single experience. I recall one author was writing from the perspective of her Asian-American experience, and the publisher kept complaining that her character was too American and not Asian enough. Total BS. The important thing is to be true to what your experience is, and that will help breathe life into anything you write.


This is what I was going to say; SnowFox is correct: if you grew up in American culture and your ideas about fantasy are based at all in what Americans would call fantasy, you're going to be writing something similar to what "white people write." For whatever you write is an incredibly complicated function of your environment, history, and biology, heavily influenced by social suggestion. So you shouldn't think that writing fantasy means you've escaped the issues of the real world; that is impossible.

Ultimately, though, what this means is that you cannot write what "white people write" unless you're white, because you don't experience society as a white person experiences it. As SnowFox says, there is no single "African-American experience," and since you are African-American what you write counts as part of the African-American experience. The idea that an African-American must write about something that's been rubber-stamped as "African-American" is in fact oppressive, and it ought to make you wonder who decided what gets stamped that way.

Also, you might want to ask yourself why you're having these concerns. "Being forced to care" is one of the ways oppression works, and in American society black writers are going to have to worry about more and work harder than white writers. But unless what you write is good enough that it becomes widespread, you're not going to have to worry about what people think.

You can't write like "white people" because there is no actual "white person group". That term encompasses all of Europe, the middle east, and north Africa. The only thing in common with some of the area is that Rome owned half of it for a while. Besides that the 3 major areas are very different. Then when you get into Europe its even more divided with completely different cultural experiences.


You act like the America you grew up in is different but it isn't. The only way it would be different is if you lived in a shithole ghetto and embraced that insult to culture.
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31 / M / Minnesota, USA
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Posted 8/26/16
If you only write what people expect "African-American" people to write then you are part of the problem. It doesn't matter your skin color, write what moves you, what you are inspired to write. I'm a white guy, couldn't care less what color the authors I read are. Have read plenty of space fantasy by black authors with black leading characters. They were good books and I enjoyed them.

Additionally, not agreeing with someone else does not make you a racist or one of the many phobes as kids today like to shout out. For example, I disagree with gay people, does that make me "homophobic" or mean I hate them? Nope!

In conclusion, be yourself, do what you enjoy doing, and let other people complain to themselves if they want to.

P.S. If you ever release a fantasy or space fiction type book and it gets on Amazon Kindle let me know ;-)
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Posted 8/26/16

qualeshia3 wrote:

Am I being silly for feeling this way? Should I continue writing for myself and not worry about who will enjoy my stories? How do I handle stupid comments(even though I have yet to face them) from people?


No, you're not silly. You're struggling with identifying your place in the world.

You have one. And you're in it. And you have every right to be in it. Nobody can tell you that you shouldn't be in the place you are. They are not the boss of you.

Every writer should write what they want to write, and not what they feel they are "supposed" to be writing. Your best writing will be done when you NEED to write what you're writing... it's beyond want, and far beyond anything anyone might tell you SHOULD be written. Just write. You know what to write; after all, you're the one writing it, and it's yours.

Stupid comments... eh. You'll always get them. Everybody thinks their advice for you is brilliant, and if you don't act suitably appreciative they will resent you for it. I have generally found it most productive to enthusiastically agree with them and act like they've changed your whole life. "Why, yes, you're right! I totally SHOULD be writing gay porn. That is EXACTLY the direction I have been wanting to go. Thank you VERY much." Because arguing with them never works.

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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 8/26/16
Everyone thank you so much for your word of encouragement. I shall continue writing for myself regardless of what people say.


Thanks for everything, cool peoples.
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Hoosierville
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Posted 8/26/16

qualeshia3 wrote:

Everyone thank you so much for your word of encouragement. I shall continue writing for myself regardless of what people say.


Thanks for everything, cool peoples.


Oh hey this website might help you out. It's a Q&A site for world building. Pretty creative people there.

http://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/27665/medieval-low-energy-houses
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Posted 8/26/16 , edited 8/26/16

Rujikin wrote:


You can't write like "white people" because there is no actual "white person group". That term encompasses all of Europe, the middle east, and north Africa. The only thing in common with some of the area is that Rome owned half of it for a while. Besides that the 3 major areas are very different. Then when you get into Europe its even more divided with completely different cultural experiences.


You act like the America you grew up in is different but it isn't. The only way it would be different is if you lived in a shithole ghetto and embraced that insult to culture.


You're right that whiteness isn't a thing that is experienced the same everywhere. Here I'm referring in particular to how white privilege functions in America: it's the ways in which white people are raised and conditioned to be oblivious to the power structures that benefit them while putting down people of other races: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege. Such privilege leads to certain ways of thinking - and writing. That not every white person in the U.S. is as privileged as every other white person does not mean that white privilege doesn't exist.
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It doesn't matter.
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Posted 8/27/16
I play the odds and automatically think of people as whatever the majority is.
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Posted 8/27/16

aeb0717 wrote:

Substantial confidence arises as you acquire experience. For now, all you can really do is kick yourself in the rear for projecting your insecurities, and then publish.


Sage advice.
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