Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where Are We?

I've a been a "nerd" for some time now.

I say "nerd" because by some measures I hardly qualify. I was a football star in high school and fairly popular if not the BMOC. I've dated women, and I have no problem fitting in socially when that's my desire. I love to watch and play sports, and I don't own any "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" paraphernalia.

But, I've also been teased for years for being too smart. Plus, I have a fiendish obsession with fantasy novels and certain science fiction works. I know way too much about the inner workings of Pern, and I'm a little too familiar with the intricacies of the Farseer reign. Those are nerd references for those of you who are confused.

Being a black fantasy fan with decidedly "black" views about the world can make reading most fantasy books an interesting experience. Sure, I love good fantasy because it challenges norms, but when it comes to racial mindsets, many fantasy and sci-fi writers are plagued with a very naive or uninformed view on the world. Hell, most of them know more about God than race, and they don't know that much about God!

My experiences made me knowingly shake my head when I stumbled across this story on one of the sites I visit frequently. It seems that when casting Hobbits for Peter Jackson's new movie "The Hobbit" the casting personnel let it be known that folks with a complexion any darker than "pale" need not apply. Hell, if you read the article, you can see where the casting director obviously realizes he's discriminating, but decides that he has to do it anyway.

The article lead me to wonder why is it that so many white writers have such pale imaginations? Some folks will bristle at that contention, but it's just a fact. White people make up a very small part of the world's population, but when you read books about space, or fantasy worlds, they are ALWAYS the dominant group.

Hell, even when characters are given "black" features, they still behave like white folks in blackface. I guess that fits with the writers' "colorblind"view of the world, but I find it to be unrealistic. Black people and white people may share interests and education, but often our life experiences are divergent in key ways, which gives us very different perspectives. Which again leads me to wonder, what is shaping these writers' imaginary worlds?

Do many white people long for a world free of unsavory and difficult minorities? Do they really find find us to ancillary parts of their lives, and feel like life would move on easily if we weren't around? Do they have an inflated view of their own importance and not realize just how little of the world's population they make up?

I think you could answer yes to all of those questions which is illuminating and disturbing. Many white people do see most minorities as either unimportant background noise or unsavory elements to be avoided. In fact, it's often only minority women who prove to be of interest and then only for the occasional sexual dalliance. It seems that when white people dream of their ideal world, it doesn't include us at all.

We're not in their plans.



lifelearner said...

So that just means we need to create the venue for AA superheroes and the like. Alot of people don't know that the creator behind The Matrix and The Terminator was an AA woman name Sophia Stewart http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/entertainment/sophia-stewart-wins-the-matrix-copyright-infringement-case_100273392.html

We do exist and AA writers need to continue to write the stories (i.e. Octavia Butler). So does this mean we can expect a SciFi/Fantasy novel from you (coming soon :)- hopefully)

Big Man said...


I've been toying with ideas for a novel and I keep saying I'm going to sit down and start banging one out but honestly, I'm a slacker.

Plus, I don't want to write something that's crap and that's kind of preventing me from getting started as well.

I really like Octavia Butler and have read most if not all of her novels.

Walter Mosely has some good sci-joints as well, you should check them out if you haven't read them.

Raving Black Lunatic