As some of you know, my partner and I are working on a rather large work of fiction set to start releasing today, February 1st, 2012 at The Keep (/end self plug!) It’s set in a custom made world with entirely new races, situations, economies, cultures, the whole shebang.
I’ve been feeling really good about it, about the lore and the story, about the characters, but walking back to work from my lunch today, I realized something.
So far, we have very few human characters, but of those that we do have, less than half could be considered non-Caucasian.
Yes. Me, who spends so much of her time thinking about and dreaming about diversity got caught in a slump of making characters based on my own personal experiences and of what I’m familiar with.
Where I live (St. John’s Newfoundland) there is a very small minority population, and most of them are students. There are very few non-Caucasian people at my work, and none that I’ve ever worked with on a daily basis. I have only once, in the last ten years, worked with a non-Caucasian person.
But it’s more than that. It’s a reflection on the media that I consume. Most of my favourite shows (Veronica Mars, Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Game of Thrones) tend to have a handful of minority characters, but the vast majority tends to be Caucasian. Most of the background filler characters will definitely be Caucasian, and this may just come down to the fact that it seems like there’s just more Caucasian actors/actresses out there.
When it comes to other media, such as video games and books and movies, it’s usually the fact that if there are human looking characters, a lot of them will be white. Probably the majority. I’ve spoken before about how some games with excellent customization might have a dozen or more Caucasian shades of skin, they might only have one or two shades of darker skin.
So this is what surrounds me, and this is what shapes me. Background people in my world tend to be white, and background characters in my fiction tend to be white.
This isn’t right, though. It isn’t something I’m proud of, and it isn’t something I want to include. I want my fiction to be racially diverse because I want people to be accepting of diversity as the norm rather than the exception. And I want my story to be read, and understood, and enjoyed by people of a diverse background, and I want their to be a character that they can sympathize with.
I want it to be inclusive, and while there’s plenty of diversity in species and colours of skin, there’s still racial homogenization in the humans of the story. I still have a lot to learn in wanting diversity and thinking of diversity as being the default status. It just wasn’t something I was thinking about while writing, and that’s just not a good enough excuse for me.
I must be the change I want to see.