Writing the Right Characters – By Rhiain

Writing the Right Characters – By Rhiain

Recently, a tiresome bit of pablum has circulated online in various articles by well-meaning individuals, whose main complaint seems to be that it’s not possible for white authors to write novels with “Person of Color” main characters.

The most recent reiteration of this complaint is a June 6 Tor/Forge post by one A.J. Hartley, titled “Writing POC While White”, in which Hartley tries and fails to explain why white writers do a poor job of writing non-white main characters, and why they should apparently avoid this trap whenever possible. To whit, he says:

Portraying disempowered Otherness on the page is still possible even if you don’t know it (in your gut) as lived experience. You can research it. You can talk to other people about it. Hell, you can see it in the news every day. But writing a POC character when you aren’t one yourself is not the same as writing a profession you know nothing about—plumbing, say—which you can fake your way through by watching a few How To videos on YouTube. In the end, all you can do is try to do it with sensitivity and respect, but—and this is more important—be ready to listen to those better qualified to assess what you’ve done when they tell you you’ve got it wrong. Again, meaning well isn’t enough, and the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

Keep in mind that Hartley begins this article by explaining what countries’ histories and political systems he drew from in the course of the worldbuilding process for his own novel, “Steeplejack.” From there, he attempts to elucidate further on his reasoning, such as it is, by alluding to his own non-white family within anecdotes about his run-ins with well-meaning folks who make some racist assumptions about his non-white wife and son.

Hartley fails to defend the premise of his article for the following reasons:

He assumes that white authors don’t already know how to write non-white characters. He says, “Too often writers play upon stereotypes and white notions of what it means to be a POC” without providing evidence of this claim. He goes on to add, “Conversely, and almost as problematic to my mind, many writers assume that race/ethnicity is irrelevant, so characters can be written as white and then (like the awful colorizing of old movies) given a superficial tint.”

Honestly, does anyone find this claim to be even remotely true? Hartley makes assumptions about other authors that reflects poorly on how he views their writing processes versus his own. How can he know or even imagine that the next writer, whomever that may be, will not invest time and effort to construct a believable protagonist that his or her audience will not equate to, oh, let’s see, Empress Teresa? (Here I will interject to add a disclaimer of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Oh, and proceed at your own risk regarding this can of worms.) Hartley might find this difficult to believe, but accomplished authors who know how to create characters their audiences can relate to do exist. And some of those characters are black! Cue the smelling salts, Henrietta!

Next, Hartley confuses the fictional universe within a work with the real world. He says,

Race is a real and meaningful part of who we are, so writing a racially-neutral character and then giving them dark skin or an “ethnic-sounding” name doesn’t allow that character to reflect upon the social realities that shaped their sense of self, particularly how they have been treated by the greater, imperfect world.

Let us note that every fictional universe is exclusive to its creator, who shapes it to reflect whatever he or she wants it to be. It might or might not contain shades of realism, it might or might not be populated by humans, it might or might not be a believable universe. This, however, doesn’t change the fact that it’s fiction.

The main reason why I continually find the complaint that white writers cannot realistically write “POC” main characters is this – hopefully – temporary amnesia on the part of the complainees. When reading fiction, who expects any reasonable creator of a fictional universe to mirror our world country to country, culture to culture, species to species? Why do people agitate for more representation of diversity in fiction when fiction’s main job is to serve as escapism from the current stresses of the real world? Do these folks want us to become stressed by the fiction we read? Heaven forbid this is their goal!

Finally, and most importantly, it’s the height of arrogance to claim certain writers cannot write certain characters because of the characters’ skin color. We would like to think that, in our acclaimed post-racial America, this object lesson would have already been imparted and ingrained into our collective psyche. Everyday there’s a poor schlob being judged because he, a white man, dared to slip into the persona of a fictional person who may have been created with tentacles, extra appendages, or lavender-colored scales to speak with another fictional person who’s human. How dare he! How does he know what xir’s had to deal with in xir’s society? How dare he force xir to converse with a human! What’s this universe coming to?

It is in this vein that some of the feverish condemnation of JK Rowling for writing about Native American wizard culture can be found, because she didn’t consult experts of historically-sourced Native American culture before recently creating the fictional version in the Harry Potter universe for her fans to discover. Some of the aggrieved even went so far to say that Rowling should not have bothered to write on the fictional Native American wizards, because their society and culture was portrayed inaccurately by its creator.

Consider the implications of this accusation, please: some arrogant “POC” experts on Native American culture essentially told one of the bestselling authors of our time to stick to writing non-POC characters in the fictional universe she’d created. Never mind that some of the characters that already inhabited the Harry Potter universe were non-white and had existed long before these pea-brained, brown-tinted glass-wearing individuals could write a coherent sentence.

We might laugh and consider the entire situation to be ludicrous. We might shake our heads and wonder aloud how people like the aforementioned aggrieved parties exist.

But exist they do, and their influence on writing fiction is pervasive and ever present.

To say that I disagree with Hartley’s assertions in his article is an understatement. They’re ill-conceived and there’s scant evidence to back them. The premise is poorly developed and easily dissected by a “POC” who finds it distasteful and irrational to use race and skin color as attempts to dissuade a writer from creating characters utterly different from himself. I would even say that the term “Person of Color” is unnecessary in discussing character development for its racist connotations. Which makes Hartley’s conclusion all the more amusing:

But I also think that writing about race (and all the other “isms”) is important because all people have a stake in these conversations, and we need to find ways to discuss such things which break down that sense of our culture as fundamentally siloed, divided, and fractious.

Indeed, Mr. Hartley. My first suggestion is to ditch this “POC” verbiage. You do yourself and your loved ones a disservice by including it here. It is by itself divisive in the worst way and not at all constructive to the discussion of character creation and development.

My second suggestion is to continue improving your writing so that “characters can be written as white and then…given a superficial tint” gives way to “write the right character for your story,” which becomes your primary focus so far as your characters are concerned. You do yourself no favors by assuming that a character is written as white by default. You can’t confirm that this is true for other writers, nor can you know what their writing processes are that could possibly lead you to this flawed conclusion, so why keep assuming this?

My third suggestion is to read between the lines in your fiction. Other writers incorporate non-white characters in their fiction as necessary on a regular basis. This doesn’t require an agonizingly presumptuous article telling white writers that this is a new required tool in their box of writing tips and tricks. Does that olive-skinned character serve a purpose to advance your plot? Does that Schlebian (a lobster-looking species I just made up) function in a useful way as a foil or antagonist for your main character, whatever skin color she may be?

The treatment by this “greater, imperfect world” may inform your life’s experiences and worldview, but don’t let it taint your fiction.

421 responses to “Writing the Right Characters – By Rhiain

  1. Not having read the aforementioned Rowling, I could be totally off-base, but I’m going to jump in anyways, and assume that the majority of readers found the native American wizards unbelievable because they were wizards, not because they were native American.

    • I think they’ll cheerfully gloss over the fact that Rowling’s Harry Potter universe was very naturally multicultural because it was set in Britain, where the school beauty / everyone’s crush was Cho Chang. Being a wizard was more important than ethnicity…

      Oh wait, they want that we focus on the ethnicity of the characters, as opposed to focusing on the story the characters are living. Can you imagine how the Harry Potter books would’ve been like, if Harry spent his whole time apologizing for his brief ‘yellow fever’ attraction to Cho, or protesting endlessly to Hermione that he wasn’t trying to oppress the Asian girl with his whiteness? Ick.

      • rawlenyanzi

        Oh wait, they want that we focus on the ethnicity of the characters, as opposed to focusing on the story the characters are living.

        That’s what really gets me about this. They’re turning colorblindness into some kind of hate speech. Even worse, they’re saying that easily offended people who lie about you should have the final say.

        I humbly offer the antidote to that thinking.

      • Oh, Harry would never complain to Hermione like that because to do so would be to disrespect her Blackness.

        Oh, didn’t you know Hermione was Black? https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2016/06/10/j-k-rowling-hurls-racist-card-at-critics/

        Except we now know that for Rowling to write a POC while not being colored herself represents an act of cultural appropriation. So Hermione couldn’t be Black and Cho Chang cannot be of Asian ancestry.

        She probably oughtn’t write boys, either, having never been a person of penistude. And, of course, not being a Person-Of-Magictude she had no business writing about them, either. She probably ought stop writing so more deserving people can sell some books and even use a large portion of the money made by exploiting other peoples’ cultures into a charitable trust managed by the Clintons.

        • Dean Thomas in the books were black… so JK Rowling was committing a horrible microaggression by including a black male character.

          As far as Hermione becoming black… she should have known better than to drink any potion that Ron brewed.

        • Okay, I get it. From now on I will only write low income middle aged spinster characters (who own cats) because that is the only thing I have personal experience about. I’m sure that will be a smash hit. Lots and lots of a bit older spinsters with cats interacting with each other…

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Playing a VR fighting MMO?

          • You racist. Whitewashing your works.

            SJWs are like getting caught by a downpour when you are in the middle of a park without trees or a gazebo or anything. You will get wet. Don’t let the matter bother you as if you could do something about it.

            • Heh. Yes, since it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t it doesn’t really matter what they think.

              I do have one black character so far, he hunts vampires in a small town with his ginger best friend (male and the relationship is Philia, no hint of Eros) and an older widow who lost her husband to one. If you don’t count the dark skinned far future one but he isn’t really even human. I will probably have more. 🙂

          • Talking cats. Offering commentary about the strangeness of human behaviors. *grin*

            It’d be amusing for blog story if nothing else!

        • *gets on hobby horse and rides off wildly perpendicular to the actual topic*

          OK, sorry, that article lost me when its author suggested that the appearance of a book character should be forever tied to the first movie portrayal. No, no, no, and also, no.

          I do not deny that some of the same people defending this decision would throw a fit if she’d been first portrayed by a black actress and then a white one, but I reject this as a reason to let the first movie casting (which was not particularly accurate to the book description in the first place, as they apparently couldn’t manage to give either Emma Watson or Daniel Radcliffe convincingly unruly hair) or any movie casting dominate the visualization of a book character.

          • Hermione is described as having unruly hair and overly prominent incisors, which would constitute invidious racial stereotyping if she were a Negress POC.

          • I remember one particular local race-monger, a fellow with the adopted name Charles Mudede, who insisted that the Donkey from Shreck was black, because Eddie Murphy is Black, and thus the Donkey was the “Magical Negro” character. This was in “The Stranger” many years ago. ISTR they printed a heavily edited version of my letter where I pointed out that this “logic” would make Elmyra from Tiny Toons (obviously white) black, because she is voiced by Cree Summer.

        • Lucky for me, I didn’t have a drink in hand, to lip, at the time.

    • Sigh. AS IF Rowling’s British HP characters were deeply rooted in the magical traditions of the British Isles.

  2. I think you spent more time on that than it deserved. But thank you for taking one for the team

  3. riteturn / Mac'

    I have a friend who is black.
    He lives in a $800k suburban home and drives a sports car. He’s an engineer for Ford and co-holds a whole portfolio of patents. He wears a cute little English tweed hat to drive his Porsche around. I have never heard him use anything but perfect standard English and I’ve never seen him prepare chitterlings or collard greens. He dresses without special African clothing or fabrics. Actually I own a Dashiki and he doesn’t…
    If I write this very real person into one of my books Mr. Hartley will probably have puppies…

    • Just to add…Melville didn’t have to be a whale to write Moby Dick.

    • Reality Observer

      Oh, but you see, the “color” goes all the way down to the brain. Nobody can possibly act in a way that does not match their “color.”

      You are also not allowed to point out that this attitude is in perfect agreement with any good antebellum plantation owner.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        It’s an extremely 19th-century attitude, isn’t it?

        • It is becoming a very 21st century attitude as the left succeeds in creating more and more white people who are conscious of the idea of whiteness.

          I remarked to my wife yesterday that I suspect I’ll live to see every law that the Stonewall riots protested reinstated. I suspect I’ll live to see blacks and whites in the US embrace the language of mulato, octadroon, etc in order to divide up the spoils as well.

          The latter will be called progress.

          • You’re probably right about seeing the return of these things, but I fear that the reason they’ll be coming back is that the responsible parties in these minority groups seem hell-bent on justifying and illustrating the validity of every single calumny ever leveled against them by the majority. You get enough cases like the Christian/Newsome murders, enough homosexual pedophiles getting caught going at it with kids, and everything else, and… All these years of “tolerance conditioning” are going to go right out the windows. Along with civil rights for the various minority groups.

            What’s incredibly disturbing to me is to remember a conversation I had with a (I must emphasize this man’s skin color, for reasons to become apparent) black Chicago PD officer. His take on things was that the inevitable outcome of what was going on in Chicago during the late 1980s-1990s was that blacks were going to have to go back into the “pen” as he put it, because they couldn’t be trusted to behave in a civilized manner. He was seeing the beginnings of the collusion between the black gangs and politicians even then, and despaired for what he saw coming. Dude was prescient as hell, too, because he saw the handwriting on the wall, and extrapolated to our present state, where what he referred to as “n***erlings” would dare to do their “wilding” in the upper-class “civilized” parts of Chicago, like the tourist-heavy Magnificent Mile and the Loop. His conclusion was that he’d likely live to see the return of second-class citizenship for blacks, simply because they would prove to be unable to conduct themselves in a civilized manner. Talking to him, you came to understand that there really isn’t a race divide amongst the rank-and-file of the Chicago PD–The majority of the officers I met were mostly of an “us-and-them” philosophy, and disregarded skin color amongst themselves. They all universally hated the underclass blacks they had to work among, and the attitudes I heard from a couple of black officers I met could have been coming out of the mouths of KKK members. For me, that was seriously disturbing to be around, because of the cognitive dissonance it creates to hear outright racism from people who, by rights, would be included in the groups that they were racist towards. Weird stuff to hear.

            What’s messed up, the most? Realizing, years later, that the guy I rejected as being racist and “captured by the institution” might just have been on to something. It’s kinda funny, too, that he perfectly predicted the dire nature of our current administration, having commented on the damage that Chicago politicians would do if they ever attained national office…

            I’m pretty sure that this guy would not have been an Obama supporter.

            • Curiously, I read this yesterday and was wondering how to insert it into the discussions here; now you’ve provided the perfect opportunity:

              Specialization and Trade
              By Yuval Levin — June 15, 2016

              Arnold Kling—the economist, teacher, blogger, and polymath—has a way of cutting through layers of conventional assumptions and laying bare complex realities. He is so adept at doing that, it seems to me, because he doesn’t expect to solve the problems he clarifies, but rather sees that the clarification of questions can itself constitute a large leap toward greater understanding.

              His 2013 book The Three Languages of Politics is a great example of that. The book sheds a bright light on our political life by arguing that progressives, conservatives, and libertarians tend to see political questions as arrayed along three distinct axes: Progressive think about politics along the oppressor/oppressed axis; conservatives think in terms of the civilization/barbarism axis; and libertarians think in terms of the freedom/coercion axis. This makes it difficult for people who incline to one of these three views to quite understand people who incline to the other two, and it leads to a lot of suspicion of motives when in fact pretty much everyone in politics is motivated to do good as they understand it. Try that insight on for a minute as a lens through which to look around at our politics and you’ll find that an awful lot of our debates make much more sense.

              [MORE: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/436679/arnold-klings-new-book-yuval-levin ]

              Emphasis added.

              Now, apply that to the Chicago PD officer’s observations.

              • I read a bit of that and realized in his taxonomy I am very much a conservative first and foremost. I suspect most people with military or LE backgrounds are.

              • As an aside, Kling was on EconTalk last month (or maybe April) discussing the new book the article is about. It was pretty interesting:

                http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2016/05/arnold_kling_on_1.html

                • I was considering his comments about economists’ focus on GDP and the probability it is entirely inappropriate. The goal of an economy ought not be to maximize efficiency or economic growth, it ought be protection of responsible liberty.

                  Thus arguments about whether command economies or even slave economies are more or less effective at creating wealth are beside the point — economic growth at the expense of individual liberty is anathema! It doesn’t [EXPLETIVE] matter whether a society needs “twenty-three different brands of deodorant” or whether everyone should receive a college education. What matters is that every citizen be enabled to pursue their own bliss so long as harmful effects on others are negligible.

                  That free markets demonstrably produce greater wealth more efficiently is a (delightful) feature but it is not the purpose of our economic framework.

      • So, the little green men from Alpha Centauri are actually plants?

      • And this surprises you from the Party of the Klan….. why, exactly?
        These people are 100% dishonest. There is no other way to view them, and we had better start reacting accordingly.

    • Reality is always stranger than fiction but the tweed and Porsche put it over the top for me

    • Go visit Day by Day. http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/

      Black engineer a main character. Also redhead Japanese.

      • Muir’s got a good thing going there. He’s doing his annual support drive about now, so if y’all have a few pennies to spare, give him a hand keeping the led’s lit and the electrons flowing.

        For those of you who don’t know, DBD is conservative as all heck, funny, on-point, and occasionally NSFW. Fit right in with the Huns. He seems like a guy I’d buy a beer, from his sense of humor, too.

    • I would say no one would miss chitterlings, but my uncle would have them on Tuesday there for a while (in the winter; I don’t think my aunt would have borne smelling chitterlings in the summer) at his restaurant. But no collards???

      Yes, we’re white all the way back to England (and Scotland) except that I am 1/32 Cherokee on my mother’s side (no, really–five generations back; a good wife is no doubt a good consolation after losing a war).

      And as a former (and hope to be future) stockholder, please pass along my thanks for the profit to your friend.

    • In the year I spent in Durham, NC, I never worked up the nerve to walk up and order from the chitterling stand. Sigh. PS, our spelling program insists the word “chitterling” does not exist. Racist!

      • We had a preacher from where the local men would have chitt’lings boils in the winter. One day, as a prank, his father and uncle tossed a little bit of meal into the pot. Even after they assured the others it was just a prank, they couldn’t get them to eat the chitt’lings.

      • I like them as menudo with posole, AKA “The breakfast of champions.” As long as someone else cleans them. That there is seriously tedious work.

  4. Dave Freer’s Changeling Island is a fantastic example, I think, of successfully writing ‘colored people’ – I despise the term ‘PoC’ for the hypocritical air it gives, by flipping the order of those words – by writing characters as people with the social backgrounds and attitudes carrying the story – and you don’t find out until practically the end of the book that the main character and his most significant relative in the story are Aborigines. The focus was on the characters and the story, not pontificating on the color of their skin and the supposed woes that accompany it every other paragraph.

    I really liked the MC’s grandmother too. Hoo. Crusty, proud and strong old dame! When the penny dropped in a conversation with some of the supporting cast, it put so much of her difficult history in perspective. What a well writ character she was! Hell, all of them.

    • But, but . . . you’re a poc! /sarc
      Me? I’m apparently transparent. No coloration at all. Explains why even wearying hi-vis yellow, folks pull out in front of me when I’m on my bike

      • It’s colorism. It seems people have this weird fondness for pulling out/stopping in front of power equipment, especially if it’s yellow. Suicidal attraction?

        • 15T of yellow-painted semi, moving at speed, surely this stops *just* as quickly as suicidal Honda hatchbacks that cut you off on the freeway.

          Laws of physics? Piffle. More like suggested guidelines…

        • Speak for yourself. I prefer to be run over by a John Deere.

          • If you two are going to argue religion, go to the bar. *points in a vaguely bar-ward direction*

            • That’s right, we only allow important religious disputes here, like vi’s inherent superiotiy of EmacsMakesAComputerSlow.

              • “vi is modal. EMACS is commodal.”

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I use notepad. I am branching out into Wordpad more for serious work. I need to get back moving towards presenting the Libertarian/Human Rights case for murdering all the druggies.

                • WYSIWYG is evil…get thee tex lessons.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    I actually am thinking I might need to learn how to use real publishing software. I suspect I may have found an opportunity, and am desperate enough that I may try it, should it pan out. I have no budget. I’ve heard of LaTeX, is it any good? Did I get the caps right?

                    What software can lay out and produce brochures with graphics? I know Adobe something produces PDFs. I am sure that there are other packages that do at least similar things.

                    • I’ve had generally good experiences with MS Publisher

                    • As much as I am a LaTeX user and recommend it for that I’d recommend Scribus or MS Publisher. LaTeX can do it but if that’s all you’re using it for the learning curve is too steep IMHO.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      Thanks. That helps.

                    • Open Office should be able to handle a lot of that, and you can export to PDF. LaTeX is another possibility, but I’ve never used it.

                    • Things like brochures are doable in LaTeX but they aren’t its bread and butter. They are a by-product of just how versatile it is. However, unlike a basic article which I could teach you in a couple of hours they take a huge amount of knowledge. When I do one I use other people’s templates and have to do a lot of customizing that is more try and test than use deep knowledge.

                      Then I open Scribus and just get it done.

                    • The Other Sean

                      ISTR that the underlying TeX language is actually Turing complete, and the version numbers currently increment by simply adding an additional digit of pi.

              • So is 1911 v Glock over at Larry’s place

          • That would almost be an accomplishment.

            Now, rear-ending a disc harrow would merely require no depth perception.

      • My truck is seven feet tall and they can’t see that either.

        A friend of mine runs a wrecker service. At least once a year he drags in a police car, ambulance, or school bus some cager drove into. Almost all of them with their warning lights on, and the police cars and ambulances usually had the sirens going.

        • Yesterday morning at 5:30 AM on I55, I was driving in the left lane when I noticed an ambulance coming up several cars behind me with his lights on. I changed lanes as quickly as I could and as he passed me I noticed a little Honda tailgating the ambulance. The moronium concentration was high in that one…..

        • I have a friend who has hit two cars and a bus … while riding his bicycle.

          We’ve forbidden him from riding it to the airport.

        • We had a number of roads flooded out last spring. I’m sitting in a heavy rescue, about 500ft past a stop light, red lights running. And still had idiots not understanding that road was shut down.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      There were at least hints earlier in the book.

    • What Shadowdancer said. And while Dave alludes to some things that adult readers familiar with Australian history will get, he doesn’t beat the reader over the head with a cricket bat yelling “This was bad! Don’t do this! RAAAAACISSSSS!!!” He just assumes that younger readers, and older ones as well, get the hint and won’t do that.

    • Dave Freer’s Changeling Island is a fantastic example, I think, of successfully writing ‘colored people’ – I despise the term ‘PoC’ for the hypocritical air it gives, by flipping the order of those words – by writing characters as people with the social backgrounds and attitudes carrying the story – and you don’t find out until practically the end of the book that the main character and his most significant relative in the story are Aborigines. The focus was on the characters and the story, not pontificating on the color of their skin and the supposed woes that accompany it every other paragraph.

      If they can’t find bigotry, they’ll invent it.

  5. So tell me, Mr. Hartley… You seem to think that “characters can be written as white” is a meaningful phrase. Just precisely what does it mean? What aspects of a character are “white” as opposed to, well, “non-white”? Since we can’t “see” the character unless the author describes him or her, that means that it’s the character’s actions that are going to determine this. So, in your opinion, what does it mean for a character to “act white”?

    I write that, knowing that Mr. Hartley will never read it, or if he does, he will never, EVER dare to give an actual response. Because the only time I’ve heard people accuse others of “acting white”… what they meant by “acting white” was striving to be successful in school, trying to better oneself so one could get a better job, and so on. Which logically and necessarily implies that that is not natural behavior for “non-whites” — a statement that is so utterly, repugnantly racist that nobody will ever admit out loud that that is their belief.

    So, Mr. Hartley — is that what you mean by characters being “written as white”? I hope not; I hope you’re not such a total racist as that. So, then, what DO you mean? Please be specific, because what you think of as “white” actions is going to reveal something about your attitudes towards “non-white” people. And when you see those attitudes written down, in black and white (ha!) letters on your screen, and someone points out the logical (and very unflattering) implications of those attitudes to you, one of two things will happen:

    1) You’ll plug your ears, cover your eyes, and hide from logic, or

    2) You’ll realize that you’ve been believing really nasty things about other groups of people, and start the process of changing your mind — and of treating everyone, “white” and “non-white” alike, as equal in dignity and worth.

    NOTE: I have consistently put the phrases “white” and “non-white” in quotation marks, because from both a genetic standpoint AND a cultural standpoint, such broad categories basically don’t exist. If you write about the particular characteristics of Italian immigrants to America in the 1920’s, or Ainu people in northern Japan in the modern day, those groups are small enough to have meaningful similarities. Individual variation will still exist, as it always does, but there will be broad generalities you can speak of that will be true of many people, and therefore pretty useful. But what statements can you make about “white” and “non-white” people that will be true of ANY significant fraction of those huge swathes of population? Pretty much none, which is why these concepts are ridiculous.

    • What aspects of a character are “white” as opposed to, well, “non-white”?

      The propensity to sunburn?

      • *Grin* I thought about writing that, but while I sunburn in minutes, I have an equally-pale-skin friend who will tan instead. Irish ethnic background vs. Italian ethnic background. So even that one isn’t broadly applicable.

        • “Portraying disempowered Otherness . . . ”

          See? They have to be disempowered, otherwise they can’t actually be POC, no matter what they look like. Oreos, you know? Happens in real life. Horrid white people born with dark skins.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            Because, of course, not a single person of European extraction has EVER been disempowered and Othered in the whole of human history . . .

            • Nope…I’ve been told to my face that just because someone is failure living on the streets isn’t prove white privilege doesn’t exists just that they are a cock up. However, if a black person succeeds it proves their superiority because they did it despite having no power even after they succeeded.

              This same person will tell you the Obama girls have less privilege than a white boy living in poverty in rural Tennessee and do it with a straight face.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                In fairness, Barack may be enough of a wreck personally to offset the influence of all that status and money. Course that depends on who Sasha and Malia decide are acceptable role models.

          • By “Portraying disempowered Otherness . . . ” isn’t the author helping exacerbate that? Wouldn’t it be better to portray universal commonalities which unify all persons, regardless of their skin tones?

            For that matter, I rather suspect that persons employing terms such as “disempowered Otherness . . . ” the phrase is redundant because they can conceive of no “Otherness” that is not disempowered … indeed, their only perception of the world is through balances and imbalances of power.

            • Feather Blade

              I think part of the problem this author has is that he’s not giving advice for writing engaging characters in fantasy settings, he’s giving advice for writing characters to populate a social studies grant application.

              If he were actually talking about writing books with stories, then he might be able imagine a world in which the Other is not disempowered.

          • rawlenyanzi

            See? They have to be disempowered, otherwise they can’t actually be POC, no matter what they look like.

            SJWs twist themselves into pretzels to explain why they don’t have to follow the rules that they impose on us.

            • Ooooh … I don’t agree.

              They twist themselves into pretzels to avoid explaining why they don’t have to follow the rules that they impose on us: they’re simply better, more enlightened people than us knuckle-dragging racisssss sexissss everything-good-phobic repressed … uhm, sorry – lost my place.


              Thomas Sowell has explored this theme extensively, most priminently in The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.

              • rawlenyanzi

                I read that book. Pretty good. And you’re right, it is about moral preening. Because they see themselves as superior, they believe they do not have to follow the rules that the rest of us do.

        • Reality Observer

          By what our hostess says about her current appearance – I’m somewhat browner than she is right. No Portuguese (or other Mediterranean) in me, so far as I know. All Northern barbarians…

          • I’m actually reverting to my normal tan. It’s driving back and forth between cities in summer.

            • My dad was a district manager for Monkey Wards back when that meant driving 400 miles from one store to the next, all summer long. Despite being of British ancestry (but possibly because that was largely Welsh) he never burned, but tanned very dark in very short order. Since he drove with one short-sleeved arm sticking out the car window, all summer he looked like an escapee from Star Trek, with one black arm and one white.

              • Reality Observer

                I don’t turn black – but that happens to me too. Fortunately this year I’m doing much less driving around and more work outside, which gives me a bit of “balance.”

              • I remember reading about a study that showed different rates of skin cancer between the left arm and the right because of driving. Much more in men than women.

                • Sides of the face as well, or at least skin care articles for women bring up hats for summer driving.

                • worked with a guy who was paranoid about “Driver’s Tan” and wore a long sleeved flannel shirt all the time . . . in New Orleans . . . in summer . . . in a van with no AC.

                • So do men drive more often than women, or is there a sex-linked difference in the UV effect on human skin? My own experience driving with couples suggests the former: when I’ve been in a car with a husband and wife, 85-90% of the time the husband was driving. I’m guessing that’s a typical pattern, linked to provider-protector behavior (he wants to be at the wheel because that way he’s in control and can protect her from an accident, whereas if she’s driving there’s no way for him to affect the outcome). But if my experience is atypical and most couples split the driving equally, then that would mean there’s a sex-linked difference in how skin responds to UV. Which would also be an interesting conclusion.

                  • Or men more commonly drive with their arm out the window than women do. From anecdotal evidence I would suppose that both a)men drive more and b)while driving they are more likely to have their arm out the window.

                  • I think men do drive more than women.

                  • I’d say both. Of all the various cars and pick-ups I’ve driven, only one in 20 years has had the window low enough (or seat high enough) for me to rest my arm on the open window while driving. Granted, I’m below average on the height curve, even for adult females.

                • The Other Sean

                  I try to remember to put on sunscreen (at least on the arms) if I’m going to be spending much time driving in a short-sleeved shirt. The one day I forgot to do that while on vacation a few weeks back I got very minor sunburn on my arms after five hours driving across/through/over the Colorado Rockies – on a day that was overcast or partly cloudy half of the time.

            • Reality Observer

              That’s probably to the good. I was told that (up to a point) more sun helps the psoriasis. Same for eczema, I would think.

              Which reminds me, need to make sure idiot son takes sunblock on this camping trip. I should’ve seen if I could take a Sergeant home with me from San Diego too…

        • And I’ve known black people who sunburn very easily.

          Guess we need to find a different racial trait; this one just isn’t working out.

          • Weird thought, courtesy of our AC going out in 100+° temperatures. We have a black cat, and some had said he’d be hotter than we were, I explaining that while this would be a detriment in the sunlight, at night he might cool off more quickly because black objects radiate heat better than light objects. This is why vehicle radiators are usually painted black.

            This had me thinking about another possible wrinkle with lighter skin in colder climates: Could it be an adaptation to reduce heat loss? And could darker skin in warmer climates promote greater heat loss at night, when the body supposedly recovers from heat stress of the day?

            Have no idea, but just wondering.

            And yes, the AC is repaired.

        • Black Irish here, so I tend to imitate your friend, but I can still sunburn if I spend enough time in it the first time in the spring I go shirtless or wear a sleeveless shirt.

        • Terry Sanders

          And my equally-pale late wife would neither tan nor burn in any normal circumstance. The sun didn’t seem to affect her at all.

        • Got my first sunburn when I was sixteen. Roofing in July heat, from cain see to cain’t see, the backs of my legs finally got red enough for me to realize that F@#$%’n hurts! Not a fan, at all, of it. My condolences for those that burn easy, I’d about die if that was my lot where the sun is concerned.

          • I buy a LOT of sunscreen, and slather it on liberally if I expect to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes. With sunscreen plus seeking out shade whenever it’s available, I’m usually okay.

          • You learn to adapt. I’m better off than Robin, since I’m in a place that (most of the time) lacks humidity, so long sleeves/long trousers or skirt and hat don’t mean I’m about to pass out from heat stress. But yeah, get everything done before sunrise, sunscreen and sleeves and shade.

        • *laughs* Even among brothers. My hubby will tan, his brother will turn red, like a lobster.

      • Because the only time I’ve heard people accuse others of “acting white”… what they meant by “acting white” was striving to be successful in school, trying to better oneself so one could get a better job, and so on. Which logically and necessarily implies that that is not natural behavior for “non-whites” — a statement that is so utterly, repugnantly racist that nobody will ever admit out loud that that is their belief.

        QFT

        • There is a reason that I say that most white supremacists are black.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I wouldn’t go that far, but perhaps only because I do not know anywhere enough people to be drawing conclusions.

            I have an extension of Bell’s Critical Race Theory that I think makes it potentially valid. Institutionalized racism across the whole of society necessarily has to be active and hence noticeable in ‘white’ areas. Having white supremacism as an institution only in those areas with a significant amount of minorities is less obvious and probably a lot cheaper. Who are the politicians who are in a position to implement the latter?

            I consider gun control a white supremacist policy.

    • Because I suspect you’re right and he will never see this, I’ll give what I think would be something approximating his answer: a “PoC” character is one shaped by the knowledge and experience of his otherness. While a “white” character might be able to forget his whiteness, a “PoC” character will never be able to forget that he is non-white and thus oppressed by the white majority.

      In other words, your character should be constantly whining about how oppressed he is. Think your typical SJW, and forget such people as Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas exist.

      • sabrinachase

        Perzactly! So a pale-skinned outsider in a culture that is all brown-skinned people can be a “POC” by the true definition in use. That Pasty Person is *always* going to have fingers pointed, children running up to see if the white rubs off, etc. While the brown locals will be “white” because they don’t see their own privilege, think everything they do is normal and right, and probably see no reason to change everything they do to make the outsider feel more comfortable. Do I have that right? 😀 (And yes, I have written that very culture…)

        • No, in their world the presence of one white person is sufficient to oppress all POC and make it a white space…same with one man oppress infinate women by existing.

          That attitude makes me feel more powerful as a white man than anything that actually happens in my life does. Then I remember it is the words of people who can’t pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel and go back to being normal.

        • My SIL thought she was defective until she was sent to boarding school at 6. Redhead growing up in an African tribe.

      • I particularly enjoy this “gift” from Dr. Walter E. Williams:

        http://walterewilliams.com/WalterWilliamsAmnestyProclamation.pdf

        • Williams is fabulous.

          Isn’t he also the one who has stated his gratitude that he managed to grow up and get his education before white liberals decided they needed to “help” people like him?

          • I’ve heard that from him, Thomas Sowell, and Clarence Thomas.

          • Beloved Spouse & I were shocked one afternoon to flip on the telly and find a program about Williams on the local (upper tier) PBS feed: Walter Williams: Suffer No Fools.
            “On the major social and political issues of our time, Walter Williams is one of America’s most important and provocative thinkers. He is black, yet he opposes affirmative action. He believes that the Civil Rights Act was a major error, that the minimum wage actually creates unemployment and that occupational and business licensure and industry regulation work against minorities and others in American business. Perhaps most importantly he has come to believe that it has been the welfare state that has done to black Americans what slavery could never do: destroy the black family. Walter Williams expresses all of these provocative ideas and more in this new public television documentary produced by Free To Choose Network.

            “The program features material drawn from extensive contemporary interviews with Dr. Williams as well as appearances by authors and scholars: Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, Douglas Ginsberg and others. A rich archive of photographs and motion pictures supports this uniquely American story.

            “The program traces Walter Williams rise from a child of the Philadelphia housing projects to become one of America’s most important authors and commentators and features the events of the 1960’s when Walter Williams realized “black people cannot make great progress until they understand the economic system.” It was then that he concluded that what America needed was to heed the words and the ideas of the Constitution.”

            One of many interesting programs made available through the Free To Choose Network — https://www.freetochoose.net/

            Frankly, we were shocked to discover such hate-filled programming on PBS.

    • Zsuzsua already gave an excellent answer, but I’ll only add that by his own admission Hartley deliberately set his story in an analog to an apartheid society and chose the racial types and power dynamics that would feature. So why this assumption that POC would always be the dominant culture?

      If he wanted to, he could have made the protags European slaves in a Muslim analog power. He could have posited a world where the Chinese empire had colonized the world, or the Persian empire, or a world where jihad swept the planet and was never stymied in the Middle Ages, and legitimately portrayed whites as the oppressed and occupied other and so given white readers a taste of this feeling.

      Which leads me to my next thought: who is the audience he imagines? Is he thinking to describe POC experiences as he imagines them to other whites, or to POC?

      Have to reread the article for that.

  6. If white authors can’t write a character that’s a POC, then why don’t they have a conniption when a POC writes a white character? Gah, the hypocrisy is stifling.

    • rawlenyanzi

      If white authors can’t write a character that’s a POC, then why don’t they have a conniption when a POC writes a white character?

      Because of “intersectionality,” which is basically a status pyramid that states that certain demographics have more rights to speak than others. It’s really dumb.

      Gah, the hypocrisy is stifling.

      Stifling is what they do.

  7. But should an Asian author write a fantasy set in a fictional version of Africa with a character based on Shaka Zulu, and set in a time prior to any contact with European analog countries?

    • Well, considering that the SJW crowd tends to treat Asians as “honorary whites” (y’know, kinda like the Nazi political classification of “Honorary Aryan” bestowed upon the Japanese in WW2) as far as “people you can’t be racist against” because for the most part they’re not subscribers to Regressive Victimology, I doubt such a writer would be given a pass by the Professional Victim crowd.

      • rawlenyanzi

        Larry Correia has a neat experiment: replace every mention of “white” with “Jew.” These white-bashing pieces then sound like a Heinrich Himmler speech, highlighting just how silly these pieces are (On top of that, Jews are often accused of having outsized privilege relative to non-Jews, so the SJWs’ similarity to Nazism is closer than you realize.)

        • Yeah, I’ve noticed that, as have others. Heck, there’s a Chrome browser extension (formerly for Firefox, but Mozilla pussed out and yanked it because of SJW butthurt) out there that replaces certain terms overused by modern feminism with Nazi terminology, and of the samples of its output I’ve seen the modified display still follows without loss of context.

          • rawlenyanzi

            It pretty much shows that modern-day feminism is a hate movement.

            • Except if you look at what feminists want for women, which is essentially to be men, it would appear the target of their hate is themselves.

              • Except if you look at what feminists want for women, which is essentially to be men, it would appear the target of their hate is themselves.

                I have noticed that they consider “females closer to maleness” as the standard for “good.”

                • Not entirely. Sometimes they just want other women not to trouble their pretty little heads about politics and just do what they are told.

                  • Not entirely. Sometimes they just want other women not to trouble their pretty little heads about politics and just do what they are told.

                    And feminism claims to be about liberation.

                    • Feather Blade

                      Hey, as long as you are liberated in exactly the way feminists tell you to be, everything is golden.

                    • Hey, as long as you are liberated in exactly the way feminists tell you to be, everything is golden.

                      Feminists demand far more obedience than any husband.

                    • Their demand is not for obedience, it is that you desire to please them. You must anticipate their desires and subordinate your will to what you presume theirs to be.

                    • rawlenyanzi

                      Their demand is not for obedience, it is that you desire to please them. You must anticipate their desires and subordinate your will to what you presume theirs to be.

                      And if you fail at mind reading, you will be severely punished.

                    • Talks with Plants says that women are NEVER to blame, anything they do wrong is because they have been hollowed out and taken over by men.

                      Which is, to tell the truth, pretty obviously projecting her desire to do that to other women.

                    • rawlenyanzi

                      Talks with Plants says that women are NEVER to blame, anything they do wrong is because they have been hollowed out and taken over by men.

                      Pretty crazy.

                    • Very crazy. For those who want to see how far out the lunatic fringe is:
                      https://witchwind.wordpress.com/

                    • rawlenyanzi

                      And the entire goal is total control of all aspects of our lives.

            • Beloved Spouse is revisiting the old Get Smart series and found this:

              Maxwell Smart: Are you a psychologist, Dr. Stueben?
              Stueben: I’m the president of the psychologist society for mental health and adjustment through fulfillment.
              Maxwell Smart: What kind of an organization is that?
              Stueben: We’re a hate group.
              Maxwell Smart: A hate group?
              Stueben: Oh, in the sense that we cure hate and fear. We hate hate. Hate it.
              http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0587493/quotes?item=qt0393285

              I trust deployment of that exchange requires no further justification.

          • Gee, but the one that replaced “manned” with “crewed” was just fine.

    • But more importantly, if a book is set entirely in a POC area with European analog presence, then what is the conflict and who is the villain?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        But more importantly, if a book is set entirely in a POC area with European analog presence, then what is the conflict and who is the villain?

        Didn’t you meant “with NO European analog presence”?

        Obviously, if there was an “European analog presence”, then the “European analog presence” is the villain. 😉

  8. I have two characters I’ve written who are “Native Americans” (although both of them would describe themselves as Indians).

    One is Stuart Dogs, who is a corporate attorney who grew up in a middle class Cherokee family in Oklahoma City. The other is Katherine Grijalva, a graduate student in Astronomy from the Tono O’odam reservation in Arizona. These two characters have attitudes and life experiences about as different from each other as can be imagined. Both are based on composites of people I have known personally. Does their ancestry shape who they are? Absolutely. But the difference in economics, education, and social standing means that each of them have “White” characters that they resemble much more than they resemble each other.

    • Reality Observer

      Assume that’s a typo… O’Odham. I wouldn’t blink an eye at that character, either – I know some amateurs out on the Reservation who are very good. (Get about thirty or forty miles beyond the Tucson Mountains range, and there are GLORIOUS dark skies out there.)

      There used to be a man that would hit all of the schools in Tucson, too, on “Astronomy Nights.” He would retell the mythology of the constellations. (He was very well educated on “Mediterranean,” “Nordic,” and “Asian” mythology too – and went into as much of the comparisons as could be understood by junior high school students.)

      • I would have loved to here those stories I only know a few for the constellations.

      • Less of a typo and more of a surrender after a long battle with my Kindle’s autocorrect. And, yes, I chose to make the discoverer of a comet from that area because, as the character observes, “The sky is all we have.”

        • Can’t take the sky from them?

          • Like Reality Observer says, the night sky out in the Arizona desert can take your breath away. It really is worth the trip to drive far up enough in the mountains that you can’t see any artificial light and then just sit on the ground and look up. I’d recommend it for any sci fi writer who wants to be able to describe the view in outer space. Fly into Tucson and rent a car and spend a night out under the stars. Once your eyes adjust you can see colors in the stars–I never saw that anywhere else.

            • Oh I’m aware of that. Wasn’t certain if a Firefly pun as well

            • West Texas is good for that too. Very little light pollution. I brought a college girlfriend on a visit home when I was a sophomore. She had never spent a night outside of Houston in her life and was amazed by the number of stars you could see and was positively entranced by the Milky Way.

  9. Only leftist, divide-and-conquer, wannabee slave-masters “give a tinker’s ‘damn'” about skin color. And regardless of *their* skin color, I see them all the same color as the stuff the Sheriff’s Posse horses leave along the parade route every 4th of July.

    YMMV.

    These are the same people who mercilessly attacked a scientist for wearing a shirt with cartoon characters (given him by a woman colleague) instead of praising him for being on the team that landed a satellite on a comet.

    It’s hard on me as I know Jesus died for them, too. I really need to refocus.

    • Sara the Red

      I adopt the view that, yes He died for them and loves them…but that doesn’t mean He also isn’t doing a facepalm and shaking His head. 🙂

      (Actually, I imagine that Deity spends a lot of time sighing and saying “What, again, guys? Come on.”)

      • Dear God,

        I wish to file a bug report…

      • I often remind myself what I once heard a pastor say, “God commanded us to love everyone, he didn’t say we had to like them.”

      • Gentle Jesus had some awfully harsh things to say on occasion. “Generation of vipers” comes to mind.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I once watched a “video” of one of the Gospels and after listening to the actor playing Christ “crew out” the Jewish Religious Leaders, I thought “no wonder they hated him”. 😦

        • Then you gotta remind ’em that God loves us too much to let us stay as messed up as He found us.

    • The Other Sean

      And dermatologists – they care about the color of skin (or portions thereof).

  10. So has this A.J. Hartley person written any books worth reading?

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      His non-fiction certainly isn’t giving me much hope.

    • Y’know, it suddenly struck me that I recognized the name. And then I realized I’d written a book review for one of his books. https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R14BFW1VXHCSPS/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1612183808

      • Ahistorical thriller, I like that. 😉

      • Oh, boy – my sympathies.

        When I look for reviews of anything – books and all — on Amazon, I look for a good solid inverted pyramid. Broad at the top, tiny at the bottom. Even the best of books or items will have reviewers who just don’t like it or had an unfortunate experience. But an even distribution all the way down?

        Meh. Life is too short to waste them on mediocre books.

        • In my defense I was sick, bored, and do occasionally read serious brain candy (ahistorical OMG this is what really happened not reality) books.

          Sometimes the one-stars aren’t bad. Sometimes they’re annoying, like the one I just got praising my story and telling me the print formatting was bad. So a one star? Ugh.

          • Eh – last month we got a one-star review for Luna City. My daughter (co-author) is just totally PO’ed. Me – I’m just ‘Yeah, humor is just so subjective, and some people will never get it, even delivered UPS and with footnotes explaining why and whence-fore the comedy contained therein.’

            This was the first one-star ever, though – so I cherish it. Because four and five star reviews across the board start to look suspicious. 😉

  11. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    There was a Black person in another on-line discussion group that was “stuck” in 1970 in terms of matters of race.

    He believed that any White who wasn’t a Hard-Core Liberal hated all Blacks.

    He believed that the present-day Republican Party was the Party of Racism (never mind that the 1970’s Democratic Party was the real Party of Racism).

    So when idiots like this A.J. Hartley talk about writing “PoC”, I get the idea that they want “PoC” who are always worried by the “Evil” Whites.

  12. Randy Wilde

    Does that Schlebian (a lobster-looking species I just made up) function in a useful way as a foil or antagonist for your main character, whatever skin color she may be?

    Is it culturally insensitive to have butter on the table when having a Schlebian over for dinner?

    • *snrk*

      • Wow, an Apple Lisa!

        $10,000 1983 Reagan dollars; almost twice my annual income then. That would have bought a new turbocharged Mustang GT, or a pair of the factory turbo motorcycles of your choice.

        • The Other Sean

          It may seem hard to believe, but when Apple invented the Mac, it was cheap – at least compared to their Lisa.

          • I went to one of the “Apple Consortium” Colleges and got a brand new Mac 128 for use in my classes for the princely sum of $800-1000, iirc. I also sprung for my own Imagewriter printer, which made me rather popular in the dorm. The next year the freshmen got the 1 Meg model for the same price, and everyone was pissed, because the upgrade path (512K ->512Ke -> 1 meg) was about $400 a step. I still have it, it still runs, although I did stuff a 1 meg motherboard in it when I got a chance.

          • I still have a 1983 Byte magazine advertising that for only $6,000 you too could own a 5 Megabyte Winchester hard drive…..

      • Only if you don’t set out the garlic with the butter.

    • No — it is only culturally insensitive when having a Schlebian over to dinner.

  13. Yes, it’s hard to write characters with a viewpoint that’s different than the author. That’s one of the skills a good author must develop. Whether it’s race, sex, some of the traits on the Myers-Briggs personality test (extroverts vs. introverts, thinking vs. feeling, etc.), traumatic history, strong emotions, or anything else that would change a person’s psyche, a good author learns to empathize with them or at least fake it enough to be realistic.

    Authors who haven’t developed this skill produce characters that all look and sound the same.

    Readers who expect all POC’s to conform to their stereotype don’t understand the breadth of human experience.

  14. Hmm. So Hartley believes that all people of a certain melanin content are indistinguishable from one another, and all think the same.

    I think we’ve found the real racist, folks.

  15. Hrm.

    On the one hand, there are indeed folks out there like that British fellow described. I’ve met a few. If you’re looking to write a character who is highly race conscious (and that affects his actions as well as his thinking), that’s one path to follow. If you’re writing in a world that is basically the real world +. Plus magic, superheroes, vampires, werewolves, what-have-you. Or your universe has Greebleflotz that enslaved the Wurbledaps some hundreds of years ago, and faced racism because of that (sort of alt-history, sort of sci-fi). There *might* be a few reasons for it…

    But the author is in control, therefore it doesn’t *have* to be that way. If your character needs this sort of mental baggage, does it make sense to the story? Is it necessary to the plot? Is it consistent throughout? Similarly, if the subtle racism of calling folks “People of Color” ain’t needful, sensible, or necessary, then leave it out. Write your characters as believable people, first and foremost.

    That’s the most important factor there. If the characters aren’t people to us, aren’t believable, it kicks us out of that happy place where the story lives and breathes in our minds. It breaks the reader trance. Breaking that trance is *the* cardinal sin of storytelling. You can infodump and get away with it, if your good. You can gross out and get away with it, same way. You can have message, you can kill beloved characters, you can do terrible, awful things… But whenever the reader loses that state of mind, your book is done for. And probably proceeding to the nearest wall at speed.

    Forget about writing to fit the narrative of the day. Whether it be PCism or Libertarianism, *it doesn’t matter.* Good storytelling is a symphony of emotion played in the soul. Timeless, classic stories touch the hearts of *people,* all people, regardless of how well they tan or whatever else superficial markings you may choose. Courage, conviction, heartbreak, loss, virtue, vice, defiance in the face of overwhelming odds, honor in both victory and defeat, boy meets girl, those ur-stories that touch something within us that transcends all bounds, these things matter.

    A simple tale, well told, is always popular. Rather than getting lost in the weeds of the day, this reader would urge writers to *forget* such things as PoC, and write those simple stories, well. Master that, and I guarantee, readers will follow.

    • A simple tale, well told, is always popular. Rather than getting lost in the weeds of the day, this reader would urge writers to *forget* such things as PoC, and write those simple stories, well. Master that, and I guarantee, readers will follow.

      Amazing how the far left turns those hopeful stories into some kind of “hate literature,” then tells everyone that everything written before 2000 was basically KKK propaganda.

      If the writers of the past were just mouth-breathing Nazi Klansmen, why would anyone want to read them? The SJWs are deliberately trying to cut speculative fiction off from its history.

      • This. This is the purpose.

        • This. This is the purpose.

          And what a nasty purpose it is. It’s sinister how they mislead young and old alike about the works of the past.

          • But it’s the only way these little midgets can pretend to be giants.

            • But it’s the only way these little midgets can pretend to be giants.

              It’s like a poor imitation of the Cultural Revolution.

              • That’s why they do things like denounce RAH as a Fascist – to try to memory-hole one of the greatest SF authors in history, virtually a founder of the Genre, and a writer to whom they would abjectly fail to in any comparison.

                • It’s because they *know* they’re flawed. You notice how the most insecure people have a compulsive habit of pointing out the flaws in other people? Yeah, that.

                  Those “flaws” are to a standard dear to them, but at best irrelevant to us. The were also conspicuously absent to the man himself at the time of his writing. It’s how an abolitionist of the eighteenth century can be a racist today, how great poets of the past can be guilty of not checking their “privilege,” and how folks who are most certainly *not* can be white male Mormons…

                • one of the greatest SF authors in history“?

                  I think an argument can be made that absent Heinlein the SF field evolves very differently, just as without Tolkein you get a very different Fantasy genre.

                  I cannot think of any other SF author about whom that can be said. John W Campbell, perhaps, but for his contributions as editor, not author.

    • We note the Heinlein, to pick an author completely not at random, had all sorts of hues of character – both good and bad. And in a bunch of cases (e.g. Rico in Starship Troopers) you only learned his actual race in the last paragraph of the story

      Hartley will of course condemn Heinlein and particularly condemn Friday for “rape culture” and other BS. He will thus prove he hasn’t read the book. Friday is all about a slave becoming free but still having the chains in her head keeping her “in her place”. If that isn’t the viewpoint of a PoC (Friday is a genetic mutt and hence a PoC) then I don’t see what is. I think the problem is that Friday doesn’t quit and let some nice government take care of her

    • #WurbledapLivesMatter

  16. Hartley is leaning really, really close to ethnic and cultural determinism with his implication that all Persons of [certain] Color all have the same experiences.

    I’d like him to go read the Smokey Dalton novels by KKR and try to say that she couldn’t get into the mind and problems of a Person of Color.

    • Or AFGM. I am not, last I checked, a six foot seven blond gay male.

      • Oh yeah? We’ve SEEN your fantasy life…

      • My hopes are dashed 🙂

        • I think there’s a line of those, starting with some of my closest friends. The weirdest thing is to get an email or text saying “Sorry, forgot you’re a woman.”
          Hello, right here. SARAH. Since when is that a male name?

          • Pishtosh – you’re just being cisnormative. Why, I’ve known a girl named Christopher and sung of a boy named Sue.

            • WWII history is one of my hobbies. One of the interesting things was how many Allied generals were named “Claire” or “Evelyn.”

              • My last shop chief in the Guard was Leslie, called Dick after his middle name.

              • There’s also the dynamic of exclusively-male names like Ashley being turned into female names over time. Ashley is still an acceptable male name in the U.K. (at least it was X years ago, where X is the age of the British man named Ashley whom I know), but these days in the U.S. it has become exclusively-female.

                Funny thing is, it rarely seems to go the other way.

                • kenashimame

                  Natasha was originally a male name; then those two bumbling spies after Moose and Squirrel confused everything.

                  There are other, related, issues. My given name is Aaron; back in my dark days in the legal industry when I would tell secretaries to send stuff to my attention about 2/3rd of the time the things would come in for “Erin” even though no one’s ever mentioned I sound like a female on the phone.

                  Having my name spelled as if I were a girl is one of my pet peeves.

                  • Having my name spelled as if I were a girl is one of my pet peeves.

                    I know exactly what you mean: as a man named Robin, the same thing happens to me. “Robin”, spelled with an i, can be either a man’s or a woman’s name in the U.S. But in the 1990 census (the latest one I’ve checked), there were a lot of women who spell it “Robyn” with a y, and not one single man who spells it with a y. And yet, when I tell people my name, they constantly ask whether it’s spelled with an i or a y. This, when they are face-to-face with me.

                    • kenashimame

                      I got onto a rant with a secretary once (sometimes they would call my boss and complain I was a smartass) and explained that the male version – Aaron – was Hebrew in origin, you know Moses’ brother-in-law with the Golden Calf, whereas the female version – Erin – was Irish Gaelic in origin as the Gaelic name for Ireland.

                      She had no idea the cultural background for the names.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              My female friend Chris has a husband named Chris. Things can get very confusing when we’re all in the same room.

              • A friend, his two brothers, and his father all have the same first and last name, with different middle initials.

              • I subbed in a class that had Katie, Katy, Cait, and Kate. I think the counselor had a grudge against the teacher, or something.

                • Christopher M. Chupik

                  My workplace has had a Kate, Kathy, Katie and two Kathleens.

                  • I lived in an all-female barracks (well, it was officially all-female, there were a couple of male significant others who bunked regularly with their sweeties) where there were four Dianes and three Marys … and only two telephones, one on each floor.
                    You have any idea how many guys trying to get in touch with the WAF they met briefly at the NCO club the night before – don’t know the last name? Practically every one of them!

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Ever hear about The Boy Named Sue? 😈 😈 😈 😈

          • I have heard Sarah claim it identifies as a male name.

          • sabrinachase

            Hey, the US Navy thought it was perfectly cromulent to invite “Mr. Sabrina Chase” to tour a sub and consider a career with them. Yes, WELL before co-ed subs were a thing. (My guess is some butterbar thought “hey, all the physics majors are male, right?” and just asked the department office for the full list. They wanted nuke engineers, see.) Only my lack of transportation prevented me from showing up and demanding my tour with a big grin. Always been a fan of submarines, and if I get to twist the knife while doing it? Like chocolate on a sundae….

            • Wait, co-ed subs are a thing? Do I need to point out the potential problems with that to anyone here?

            • It goes both ways, in the military.

              Once upon a time, I was assigned to a unit in Korea that was transitioning from an MTOE which allowed women, a heavy Engineer battalion. We were taking the battalion over to a Corps Combat (Wheeled) format, and then Divisional Mechanized as an end state. As such, the folks up at 8th Army weren’t quite used to the idea we were now an all-male outfit.

              This is important, because while I was filling the Operations Sergeant slot, I started getting these notices that one of our junior NCOs, Sergeant Dana K. “Smith” was due for “her” annual pap smear and so forth. Now, since that individual was both emphatically male, and about six-foot-six in his stocking feet, as well as weighing somewhere north of 280lbs, I sorta put that on the back burner. Eventually, I called and said something to the effect that Dana was also a guy’s name, and they made a mistake about both sex and gender role. Still got the notices, which I didn’t bother replying to. I mean, what the hell are they going to do about it, right?

              Couple of months go by, with more notices appearing, each more threatening than the last, demanding that “Dana” take herself up to the OB/GYN clinic for her checkup. The First Sergeant and I both tried telling them they were wrong, but… The computer said our Dana was a girl, so we were to get her up there in the stirrups, or else. The nastier they got, the less attention we paid. At that point, I don’t think we had a female in the unit, and the only females on the entire camp were in the separate equipment company, who were not under us in any way, shape, or form.

              After about three months, apparently the bright lights up at Yongsan Garrison decided to take matters into their own hands, and we had a full Colonel show up at our company offices, demanding that we make forth with the woman, who apparently was solely responsible for screwing up the entire peninsula’s compliance stats for OB/GYN care. The First Sergeant got his ass chewed, and you could see him biting the inside of his cheek the entire time. Eventually, the Colonel ran down, after having gone on for a good 45 minutes about how f**ked up we were for not taking care of our soldiers, and the First Sergeant sent someone out to get Sergeant Dana. He literally had to stoop to get in the office, and the good Colonel was like “Oh, how funny… Now, go get the real one…”.

              Comparing the social security numbers and everything else left him with the unpleasant fact that we’d been telling them the truth for the last 90 days, and his vaunted stats had been screwed up not because we were bad people, but because you can’t easily do a pap smear on a male. Not to mention one the size of our guy, who could palm a medicine ball and throw it around like a damn handball.

              Colonel left with his tail between his legs, and I believe that SGT Dana K. “Smith” PCS’ed back to the states still carried on the medical roles as a female. How the hell that happened, I’ll never know, but apparently the issue was essentially unfixable. I ran into him years later, and he’d been back to Korea twice in that time frame. Every time, when he was in Korea, they had him down as a woman, and when he was stateside, the system thought he was a guy. His second tour, he just said “Screw it, I’m taking a day off down in Yongsan…”, and went down to the hospital for his checkup. The way he told it, they almost had him on the table and up in the stirrups before they really took a look at him and figured it out. He was assured they’d fix the problem.

              Two years later, he goes back to Korea, again. Guess what?

              • The way he told it, they almost had him on the table and up in the stirrups before they really took a look at him and figured it out. He was assured they’d fix the problem.

                If I was him I would have worried that “fix the problem” might wind up involving turning something inside out.

              • sabrinachase

                That is epic! Thanks for sharing. Poor Sgt. Dana! Pelvic exams are not fun even when you have the equipment for them. I’m glad he escaped 😀

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            *Drags out old joke off the shelf. Has coughing fit. Cleans up dust. Coughs. Reuses joke.*

            Wait, you are a woman? I have been deceived. I never read anything by a woman, as a matter of principle.

            Grumbles

            Next I’ll be hearing that Wen Spencer, PC Hodgell, Rosemary Sutecliff, or even the notorious misogynist, K. Paulk, is actually a woman! Bah!

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Project Elfhome is available as an eARC.

            • Considering that the inhabitants of Vile770 were accusing Sarah and K Paulk of running the Men’s Rights site known as Sad Puppies 4…..

              You know, even Jesus said you only had to forgive even your brother 490 (70 times 7) times; I’m thinking that Scripture has been more than fulfilled….

      • What you are matters less than how you identify.

        Perhaps you actually are a six foot seven blond gay male but so strongly identify as a short Iberian-American female (with a great rack) that you are incapable of perceiving the real you i your mirror? This would probably explain your eczema issues.

  17. Why in the world would he think it would be harder for a white person to write a nonwhite character than for a woman to write a male character, or vice versa? Or for a person who has never been very rich or very poor to write a character who is either?

  18. Aww, all this is nothing. Just imagine how wrong all those humans get centaurs and unicorns and mermaids and…

  19. Jordan Bassior

    His assumption is that “POC vs. white is a useful dichotomy, which implies “whites are special.” Just one memetic mutation away from good old-fashioned White Supremacy.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Exactly. Our modern activists have almost single-handedly resurrected racism in the name of combatting racism.

      • The best arguments for white supremacy are the magic, unsurmountable power of whtie oppression that leftists preach.

      • Yup. And the specter of antisemitism, aka Jew-Hate, too.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Feminist and especially feminist claims are the best arguments for denying rights to women.

          • No – small “f” classical feminism – that women should have equal opportunities for education, in considering careers for which they are qualified, in law, and in the voting booth, and to sort out how they want to arrange their households – that is a good and one which I support, and one which generations of women worked towards.

            What you object to, and which I and I believe that others among the Huns abhor – is the doctrinaire, man-and-boy-hating, Establishment capital-F, and academic-based Feminism, which is sprinkled with a light flavoring of hatred of all women who do not, in fact, go along with their dictates. Such women are cray-cray-crazy to a degree that is as horrifying to all rational human beings.

            They’re a hideous embarrassment to all of us women who love men as the other half of our sky-holding set, who adored our fathers and husbands, and wished nothing more in our lives than to go out and exercise our talents, such as they are.

            • Small “f” classical feminism has succeeded to such a degree that its goals have become the norm*. It’s now only on the extreme edges of society that folks don’t hold women as our moral, legal, and intellectual equals (with the broad but minor variations that go with the extra leg on the chromosomes, yeah, but go with it).

              The problem is what I’ve heard called third wave feminism by Christina Hoff Summers, I believe. The word and the movement got hijacked by revolutionist/Marxists, and needed some sort of perceived oppression to keep the outrage machine going. This provided prestige, jobs, publishing contracts, and eventually some sort of preferential treatment, the latter albeit in sections they control at first but becoming more broadly endorsed as they grew in power.

              As a side note, there’s a reason that Feminist literary criticism and Marxist literary criticism are both essentially interchangeable. You just pick out something you can use to whine about sex discrimination or class warfare and *any* bs you write with even the most tenuous connection will be praised. As a student back in the nineties and later, this was the kind of clue that had its own special effects team borrowed from heavy metal bands: The Teacher Has An Agenda.

              *: I still hold both weirdo alt-right and carzycakes leftist ideologies as extreme. They are the teeny edges of the bell curve, but with large voices. It’s the silence and complacence of the sleepy-minded average Joe and Jane that makes those large voices echo so.

        • I just read that as “the sphincter of anti-Semitism.” The dangers of a decaffeinated life are many, folks. Be warned!

  20. I looked him up, he’s whiter than I am. *IF* he were right, how would he even know, then? More SJW BS.

  21. I don’t think the neo-segregationists are going to like the world they’re trying to build outside their fiction. Much like no one likes the worlds they build inside their fiction.

    The most extraordinary thing at play here is that these folks can give equal space to the competing ideas of Moar Diversity!™ and Stick To Your Tribe inside such small minds.

    • rawlenyanzi

      The most extraordinary thing at play here is that these folks can give equal space to the competing ideas of Moar Diversity!™ and Stick To Your Tribe inside such small minds.

      And they want all the “diverse” populations to subscribe to SJW thought as well. If everyone thinks the same way, it defeats the point of the diversity.

      • It’s purely diversity of their approved, very narrow criteria. Diversity of any other kind is completely intolerable. Bigots, I calls them…

        • rawlenyanzi

          It’s purely diversity of their approved, very narrow criteria. Diversity of any other kind is completely intolerable. Bigots, I calls them…

          In other words, no diversity at all.

      • A rainbow of skin colors, a spectrum of sexualities, and strict regimentation of thought and belief. So: Robots of all shapes and colors, all running on identical ROM. I say “No.”

        • rawlenyanzi

          A rainbow of skin colors, a spectrum of sexualities, and strict regimentation of thought and belief. So: Robots of all shapes and colors, all running on identical ROM. I say “No.”

          Likewise. We are destined for greater things than that.

        • Weber’s Beowulf.

      • M. L. Martin

        “We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us.”

  22. Christopher M. Chupik

    Screw these racist morons. I will write any kind of character I want. To hell with bigots who think that I can’t or shouldn’t because of the color of my skin.

  23. Finally, and most importantly, it’s the height of arrogance to claim certain writers cannot write certain characters because of the characters’ skin color.

    It’s a trap. If you don’t include “people of color”, why, that’s racist on the face of it. If you do and are not one yourself, why that’s insensitive because you cannot possibly understand and therefore racist.

    As always, the whole thing is an attempt to silence those they disagree with.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Nope, it’s because a White author doesn’t use the “Proper” stereotype when they use PoC characters.

      Note, it’s still racist. 😦

    • Ancestor of the even more twisted argument that “you’re so racist against X that you won’t even rape them!”

      My brain hurts.

    • It’s a trap. If you don’t include “people of color”, why, that’s racist on the face of it. If you do and are not one yourself, why that’s insensitive because you cannot possibly understand and therefore racist.

      They want such writers to stop writing, and for no one to read them. It doesn’t matter how much these white writers proclaim their anti-racist bona fides; nothing, and I mean nothing, is good enough for the Social Justice set.

      • Which means, of course, that we can write anything we want to! If nothing’s ever good enough, there’s absolutely no reason to try to please them.

        • rawlenyanzi

          Which means, of course, that we can write anything we want to! If nothing’s ever good enough, there’s absolutely no reason to try to please them.

          Agreed. Their aim at total control of artists should leave them with absolutely no control.

    • Here’s the current list as I understand it:

      If you have a non-white hero, that’s “cultural appropriation.”
      If you have a non-white sidekick, that’s “tokenism.”
      If you have a non-white villain, that’s “vilifying the other.”
      If you have no non-white characters, that’s “whitewashing.”
      If you have a non-white character who shares the traits that the majority of outsiders associate with his race, that’s “stereotyping.”
      If you have a non-white character who doesn’t act like the stereotypical member of his race, that’s “a white guy with a superficial tint.”

      Much like the old 80s movie advised, the only way to win this game is not to play. The SJWs would prefer you “not play” by just shutting up and letting their writers take over, but I recommend instead saying, “I’ll write what I want, you ********, so you can just go *********.” The ******* can be replaced by the profanity of your choice, but some type of “colorful metaphor” is absolutely mandatory in this situation.

      • The current list is whatever lies they find necessary to tell to control others. Today. F*ck them all with a frozen swordfish. Sideways.

        • Heh. Saw a clip on yesterday’s news, Hillary “VRWC” Clinton railing about the dangers of putting a conspiracy theorist (Trump) in the White House.

          Oddly, Google search isn’t producing any results allowing me to put up video.

          • She also made remarks about how foreign hackers can steal private data from soft targets.

            MAYO: We are hearing breaking news. Apparently Russian hackers infiltrated the DNC computers, got some opposition research, got some information about your campaign— your response to that news?

            CLINTON: Well, we are just hearing the same and it is deeply troubling, but it’s an issue that we have to address. I’m focused on cyber security. You know, Russian hackers, and the report is they probably work for the Russian government, are in the business of stealing information to try and give the Russian government economic, commercial, political, military advantages. We know that and we’ve got to do everything we can to stop them. Now soft targets like the DNC is not as equipped to prevent them as the Department of Defense is. But we got to get everybody’s game up because these hackers, particularity from Russia, from Iran, and now increasingly from North Korea, are going into our businesses, are going into our government agencies and trying to steal information and it could get quite troubling.

            Source

            • Don’t forget her comments about how we need to restrict the rights of people under FBI investigation.

              I can’t figure out if this woman is irony-impaired or the greatest troll that the world has ever known.

            • Is the state department a “government agency”?

              “. I’m focused on cyber security.”

              She already proven that, the only question is, is she focused on improving it, or circumventing it?

  24. Shorter Hartley: “I prefer racial stereotypes and you should too.”

  25. Actually, I’m with Hartley…I’m sick of women writing men when they clearly know nothing about having a penis and POC writing about whites in a way it is clear all they have is hatred.

    And I’m really sick of naturally conceived women writing about genetically engineered people of capability…to the point of being sick of Darkwine of the Good Gods books.

    {sarc-off}

    Or, you know, maybe I just read writers who work I find entertaining or thought provoking (non-exclusive or and the best are the ones that engage that non-exclusivity).

    I did learn of one writer not to bother to sample from today’s post though…and it appears (from context) it is a white one.

  26. “plumbing, say—which you can fake your way through by watching a few How To videos on YouTube
    If you made it past the Tor/Forge website, then this statement should prove the author is totally clueless about anything but his ‘special world’. The equivalent would be to watch a few POC videos makes you qualified to write POC.
    Ignorant people write ignorant things, and this ‘clue’ to the fact this man is clueless allows you to pretty much ignore anything he says. Consider it virtue signaling.

    • I had the same reax to this blatant microaggression toward plumbers, otherizing them, disregarding their professional skills in a blatant effort to disempower them.

      • It is the dripping with arrogance/contempt that bothers me. Well, writing isn’t that hard, just look up a couple of grammar videos on youtube and have at it!
        One of my bosses always like to suggest that his people should write ‘every thing they know’ on a single piece of paper in case they got run over by a truck the next day.
        Now, admittedly my Dad’s favorite saying about plumbers is “Hot on the left, cold on the right and sh*t doesn’t run uphill.” More difficult than accounting; “Credits on the left, debits on the right.” The difference was my Dad knew what he was saying was a joke, Hartley apparently believes his.

        • I’ll joke about put wet stuff on red stuff and air goes in and out, blood goes round and round. Any variation is bad but they are just that. Jokes.

      • Where I work one of the most dreaded phrases is “I watched this video on youtube and…”

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          …and that is why the plant burnt down. I’ll go quietly officer.

        • Free-range Oyster

          I use a lot of how-to YouTube videos for home and vehicle maintenance. That said, I do my best to have someone who knows what they’re doing looking over my shoulder (usually one of the Elder Oysters), and I have a good sense of when it’s beyond me and I need to call in a professional.

    • > Ignorant people write ignorant things

      …and supremely ignorant people publish them.

  27. If the link isn’t working for you (didn’t for me):
    http://torforgeblog.com/2016/06/06/writing-poc-while-white/
    Apparently their https server has a twitch up its ass about not speaking to some browsers.

    And, what Herb N said.

  28. Part of the problem is that Hartley has a different vision of the purpose of fiction than you do.
    You see it as a way to slip the surly bonds of earth for a while, to make the real world a little easier to live in.
    He and his crew see fiction as a way to hold up a mirror to humanity and effect societal change as a result–unfortunately, the mirror came from a funhouse.
    The fact that the escapist fiction also tends to have a better handle on actual problems facing society than the other kind is irrelevant. I trust that I need not remind those present about the term for those who wish to prevent escape?

    • The fact that the escapist fiction also tends to have a better handle on actual problems facing society than the other kind is irrelevant. I trust that I need not remind those present about the term for those who wish to prevent escape?

      That’s exactly what they are — jailers of the mind.

    • “… unfortunately, the mirror came from a no-funhouse.”

      Fixed that for you.

    • They have the same attitude that the Soviet commissars had – all endeavors must advance the cause of the Narrative, particularly entertainment.

  29. The bugaboo of a small mind. As an example, Mackey Chandler wrote a thoroughly believable black character, from a family centered tribal society, that grows as a person when he adopts a white adolescent orphan. Of course, he is an alien BLACK bear- like intelligent species. His cultural norms read true, his (and her) social growth was real and effective, and am eager for the next installment. c.f Family Law

    • My daughter and I channeled Hispanic characters so thoroughly in The Chronicles of Luna City that one of our neighbors – who is himself Hispanic and fiercely proud of it – is just astounded, and certain that my daughter and I are really, truly Hispanic ourselves, and the Anglo-English outer appearance is just a cunning disguise. Or that we have some creepy super-power.

  30. BobtheRegisterredFool

    On judging by character, rather than the color of skin

    I may prejudge someone’s character based on what they talk about, and want to bring to my attention. Note that this is not the same as extending trust.

    Young Jimmy: I’m white.
    Young Jimmy: Bob, I’m white.
    Young Jimmy: Bob, why don’t you care that I’m white?
    Young Jimmy: Bob, pay attention to me and my whiteness! PLEASE!

    People don’t exist to entertain me. The personal qualities a person talks about reveal some of what they esteem. Some folks are boring.

  31. Per Wiki:
    “Walter Ellis Mosley (born January 12, 1952) is an American novelist, most widely recognized for his crime fiction. He has written a series of best-selling historical mysteries featuring the hard-boiled detective Easy Rawlins, a black private investigator and World War II veteran living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles; they are perhaps his most popular works. … His mother, Ella (née Slatkin), was Jewish and worked as a personnel clerk; her ancestors had immigrated from Russia.”

    There is NO WAY Mosley should be able to identify with the experiences of a Negro WWII veteran (who grew up in South Carolina) working as a private eye in Watts four years before Mosley was even born.

    Mosley’s not a veteran, not a private eye and has never directly experienced the effects of Jim Crow.

    • Free-range Oyster

      Mr. Mosley gets a mention in one of my favorite happy(!) blues songs:

      Thought y’all might appreciate the sentiments. 😀

  32. kenashimame

    c4c

  33. The problem with this nonsense is not just that each writer can only write about his race/background, but that logically, no one could write about, say, an interracial space ship crew. And it assumes that each race is a type that the writer has to stick with, no coolly intellectual black people unless they are meant to be race traitors. And it probably assumes that black people must stick to a race typing that is self-destructive. And how many people actually fit any approved type? Myself, my dad was descended from a Quinn who was given a King’s Grant to land in Mecklenberg County early eighteenth century. His dad, my grandpa, drank away the money and land and left him and family in a lower class lifestyle. Dad married Mom, descended from the owners of the land around Loch Lommond, but reduced to poverty by personal disasters and general disasters in the Appalachian Mountains in the twenties. Dad and Mom were active in church and American Legion, where they had to be accepted, but I never felt at home and accepted anywhere in Gastonia. Like most black people and a lot of white and other people, the demand “this is your class, these are your people and you have to act like them” is something that has to be fought against at all cost.

  34. Taking Mr. Hartley’s assumptions about race/culture and writing a small step further: He must believe that Sarah writes all of her characters as Portuguese, then gives them a veneer of whiteness, blackness, or whateverness.
    Somehow, I don’t think so.

  35. Earlier today, in hopes of adding something cogent to the discussion, I did a search for an article that I had seen recently. This is what I came up with: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/13/entertainment/hamilton-potter-colorblind-casting/index.html.

    Y’all have at it; I gotta get some work done.

  36. BobtheRegisterredFool

    1. Larry has a new comment system up.
    2. He has a new control post up.
    3. I am having technical problems. (It says I need cookies and javascript. I even have javascript turned on, and I’m not going to set cookies any further on.)
    4. Bill Ayers chiming in gives us ample cause to doubt the motivations of the anti-gunners.

    • Go to virtualbox.org, install the verion of VirtualBox for your operating system, download Puppy Linux and install that into a virtual machine, set Puppy to boot into Firefox, and just run the VM when you need to go to those annoying sites.

      I have to use some commerce sites whose webtards have tweaked the code to require, not just a specific browser, but only the version that runs on a specific operating system.

  37. Will Hartley tell Nora Jemisen that she can’t write White characters, because she has no idea what it’s like to be White?

    If it’s important to write “POC” characters, but White people can’t do it, then is he basically saying that White people shouldn’t be allowed to write?

    Well, I suppose if you want to increase the proportion of non-white authors, that’s one way to do it, but it really shrinks the market, you know….

  38. And Furthermore, why do SJW’s insist authors should only write what they know, when they know so little?

  39. Amberchrome

    All this carp is why lately, my prose-writing efforts have been confined to getting into the heads of anthropomorphic vehicles. Yes, the “I identify as an attack helicopter” meme come to life.

  40. I would ask either of the two people here who read Kiwi, “What color is Alex?” I’d ask Hartley (Although I’d probably have to make him read it ala “A Clockwork Orange”) and I bet he’d assume he’s white. But no, I never assigned him a race, in fact, other than being male, I didn’t describe him physically at all because of the baggage that would carry with it that would detract from the story. He’s more of a Rorschach Inkblot, and the answer to that question says more about the reader than the character.

  41. Does Hartley identify as an oscillator, I wonder?

  42. Based on the small sample here, I’d say Hartley can’t write well enough to write an imaginary character. Cynicism am moi.

  43. I usually have very low expectations for articles like Harley’s, but this one is really amazingly racist. Most writers of such screeds seem to be well-meaning but entitled people who’ve had very sheltered lives. Harley, on the other hand, doesn’t have this excuse. Rhiain, you’ve been far too kind to him!

    First of all, he wrote a book in a fantasy universe, with different laws of nature, different continents and cities, and completely different political systems. Yet he brags that his main character is a “woman of color”. Apparently, in every possible universe he can imagine, being non-white makes you “disempowered.” And, also, notice that he doesn’t state what race his character actually is. That is not important. All non-whites, to him, apparently think and act alike. How Americans currently tend to divide people into races is, according to him, a universal law of nature.

    Yet he spent years living in Japan! Amazingly enough, despite his claiming to be “observant”, he never heard about the Ainu, the native people of Japan. Did he look around and notice the amazing lack of diversity of people’s skin colors, and think about what that means about their culture’s views about other people? Nope! And although he does say that he felt excluded at times, “I never felt looked down upon for my race in ways some non-Japanese Asians in the same community did.” Did he draw the obvious conclusions, namely that the Japanese tend to be somewhat racist against whites, and very racist against non-Japanese Asians? Nope! To him, all Asians are the same race and that is a universal law, so not only are Japanese not racist, but he was privileged by his white skin, in Japan!

    And, yes, his Asian wive’s grandparents were horribly treated (they were victims of the World War II Japanese internment camps). But Harley is a university professor: has he, using his incredible self-described powers of observation, not noticed that today Asian-Americans are far more likely than Whites to get good grades, enter university and obtain better-paying jobs? Nope!

    The mental contortions that Harley goes through to maintain his beliefs that white people are universally privileged and everyone else is oppressed is simply astonishing.

    • Whoops, pardon my misspelling of Hartley’s name!

    • Never mind the Ainu, ask him about the eta, the burakumin…

    • I could’ve been harsher to his mellow, but there were other contradictory statements in the post that drove me nuts. Really, given that dispensing this type of writerly advice to whites is currently a trend among the progressive literati, I barely touched on what bothers me about it. The racism is so blatant that it’s easy to knock down, but there are other bits and pieces for others to chew on, if they want.