I am off for a week-long vacation with my family so this will be a very brief post on tokenism.
Don’t do it.
There. The end.
But seriously fellow writers. I am finding a disturbing number of newly published works in the sci-fi/fantasy genre in which a character is a person of color and yet the color of their skin is mentioned in passing and does not at all inform WHO they are despite the fact they are surrounded by an entirely white cast of characters.
If you have a society that is predominantly white, and there is a character that has “deep black skin” there is going to be conflict. Though we write in a fantastical mode, humans are humans, and that aspect of Otherism is not going to go away just because we will it to. I mean, I guess it COULD because we are writing in the fantastical, but it doesn’t ring true.
At least to me.
I know. I am lecturing. I try really hard not to lecture because all of us are doing our own thing and writing our own thing and have our own thing; however, when the conversation is about the lack of POC representation ( a very important conversation), throwing in a character with a darker shade of skin without development feels like the writer is checking a box.
Ditto when it comes to LGBT+ characters that are just mentioned and not at all developed.
As a white writer, I am endlessly aware of the tension between needing to make sure I am not white-washing my narrative, but also trying to not fall into tokenism. Our goal should always be to develop multi-dimensional characters, and that includes characters of any color, religion, or sexual orientation.
I am going on vacation now.