Should writers be able to write characters of other races and nationalities?
Should they be able to? Heck yes. I have no doubt that people definitely have the capacity to write characters of other ethnicities or cultures.
But should everyone be writing people of color that they themselves are not?
Yes and no.
Firstly, I say yes because as a woman of color I have grown up reading novels upon novels and watching many movies and shows with protagonists which are so different from me, both culturally and racially.
Nothing would make me happier than to see characters that look like me, talk like me, deal with cultural problems like me. Indian-Americans, such as myself, have fought the daily struggle of deciding if you’re too Indian or too American, or just trying to convince your very Asian parents that just because you had fun yesterday doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun today.
I want, no, I demand, that writers take it upon themselves to branch out of the usual cookie cutter and please add in more culturally inclusive main characters. Not side characters or minor characters because you don’t want to do the research required. Main characters.
But I say this with a word of caution, which brings me to all the reasons I have to say no.
While I would love to see more cultures represented on T.V., I will NOT stand for misrepresentation. Like, please, please, please do your damn research.
I’m sorry, but not every Indian I know has a thick accent like Raj from Big Bang Theory. Not all of us do yoga on Saturday mornings or wear a bindi. Not every Asian is smart. Not all of us want to be doctors or engineers. No, I don’t speak “Indian” and I am not “a Hindi”.
Please figure out the difference between Hindi and Hindu. Understand the fact that Indian people don’t speak Indian. Rather they speak Hindi, English, Hinglish (a recent development), Tamil, Telugu, and so much more. Because your poor writing will show. And I promise you, it’s not only rude to the people you’re writing about but it’ll reflect the poor research on your part.
And maybe it’s more convenient for you to write characters which resemble yourself. I know it’s ten times easier for me to write an Indian-American character than a Vietnamese one. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. What it does mean is that I’m going to buckle down, research the heck out of a nation’s history, interview close friends who may belong to particular groups, and figure out everything I need for my story to work.
So if you’re going to feed into stereotypes and promote biased, negative views of specific cultural or ethnic groups, hold off on writing people of color all together. But if you’re willing to do your research, understand the culture, come to know why certain things are the way they are, then by all means, please write a character from whatever group you want!
“We could get arrested for this you know.”
“Duh. Why else do you think we’re doing it?”
“I thought you wanted to piss off your dad.”
“You make no sense.”
“Just shut up and follow me!”
“Of course. Because that totally doesn’t make me an accomplice to the crime.”
“Are you serious? Okay, you know what? You can be my hostage. Does that sound better?”
“Then it’s all good. Now just get in the car.”
“Where are we driving to?”
“Ok but like where from the highway?”
“Whoa wait... you’re gonna crash the car aren’t you?”
“Of course not. We’re just going to speed a little.”
“Oh right speed a little in a cop car with your best-friend-hostage sorta situation. How could I not see this coming?”
“Because you’re a dimwit with barely enough braincells to put on a seatbelt.”
“My seatbelt is on just fine- DID YOU JUST TURN ON THE SIREN?”
“Oops? OOPS?! That’s what you have to say to this?”
“Musta accidentally hit the button. What’s the big deal?”
“I swear I am going to strangle you the second- JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WOMAN DID YOU JUST DRIVE OVER A ROAD SIGN?!”
“Hey stop it! No distracting the driver.”
“Just let me do the damn steering before you kill us both.”
“Don’t worry! All the cars keep making room for us!”
“BECAUSE YOU TURNED ON THE SIREN ON A STOLEN COP CAR.”
“Chill ok? And quit the damn yelling. We’re just borrowing the car, anyways.”
“You. Don’t. Just. ‘Borrow’. Your. Dad’s. Car.”
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about anything. The real police should be here soon anyways.”
“Well they can’t get here fast enough! You’re gonna make the car crash at some point I know it.”
“No I won’t. I got this-”
“Ok. Fine. I admit it. You called that.”
“Are you ok?”
“I swear on everything that is holy, if your dad doesn’t kill you, I sure as fuck will.”
HUGE shoutout to the little kids that decided to play pretend around the library and state the line, “You can be my hostage!” to inspire this piece.
what to write
aimlessly staring at the page
its been months
since I've exercised this muscle
maybe my talents have faded entirely
gone and instead leaving me
with a number of disjointed thoughts
and random line breaks
that I desperately try to label
I don’t drink anymore
and trust me
it’s not because I want to be sober
I could go the club anyday
but it’s the only one here
and I know what I would find
you, dancing with him,
treating what we had together
just like another of your lies
So that’s why I’m at home
staring at the champagne bottles
left untouched in your cabinet
knowing that somehow
being drunk would hurt more
than being sober
the tattered stripes
limply hang from the pole
a billowing breeze rushes past
tangling it's stars and it's stripes
till it makes one big knot
it isn't till a gentle ephemeral breeze
gently knocks through
undoing the damage little by little
the rising sun illuminates the edge of pole
a bright new dawn that shines upon us
a new chance to amend the tatters
so the stripes can come together once more
united not apart
I miss the bittersweet summer days
My head in your lap
Your arms around me
I couldn't say I'd want to go back
But I do know that
I relive those moments every day
not even poets
could describe your elegance
because one just failed
If sleep is the closest I’ll come to happy, then my nightmares may as well be dreams compared to the life that surrounds me.
A Raindrop’s Journey
The first thing I remember is the lingering, the Mother Cloud holding me, preventing me from the inevitable battle path- the plummet- towards Earth. I remember looking down, seeing the curved horizon of the hulking sphere I knew I would be one day sent to fight. And I trembled.
“Benjamin.” The rumbling voice of Mother Cloud. You would recognize it, though I believe you call her voice by a different name. Thunder. “Do not shake. You must not shiver so. For millennia, your siblings have charged on Earth. You will do the same. It is no use fearing that which is inevitable.” And that was the moment I shut down. I locked away the fear, Mother Cloud’s voice echoing in my mind. No use, no use, no use. I consider that my first death. My second was more final. It started with the preparation of the Charge.
I was chilling with my squad and I think we could all feel the Falling begin. Each moment brought us a little closer to leaving Mother Cloud. We knew what would happen next. The moment we left the other cloud we would begin Falling for real, and then the Charge. After that, no one really knows. You don’t come back. I ignored the familiar tickle of fear in me, sealing it off with a cocky grin. I addressed my best mate, Mike. “You ready for this?”
He grinned back. “You kidding with me, Benji? I was condensed ready for this. May be a death drop, but you know I’ll being enjoying any second I got.”
I laughed. “You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”
“That she’s a fine formed raindrop at 10 o’clock?” The only one near us, actually. Most of the females knew to stay away from my squad unless they felt like being harassed. I mean, we were harmless, but they tended to keep their distance anyways.
“You know it. Go get her.”
He shot me one last crooked smile as he made his way over to her. A calm came over me then as I watched him flirt shamelessly -we had done this together countless times (had I wanted, I could have told you exactly the words he used, his exact angle, without listening)- and her pretend to be offended even as a hint of a blush rose in her. The boundary of Mother Cload was closer than ever now. Then closer. And closer. Mike’s drop finally moved away from him, huffing, and he headed back to me. And then it began.
I was startled at first as the plummet began, the first few moments of the Falling. I lost all sense of space and time and for just a moment, a ghost of who I head been worked itself up to the surface and I was terrified. But I still remembered her words- no use- and I shoved Benjamin (the small bit of water vapor that clung to Mother Cloud and did his best to please her) back into myself, once again assuming the role of Benji: womanizer, jerk, and best of all, absolutely fearless. That was when the Falling turned into the Falling, second greatest achievement I would ever have, the first steps towards glory and heroism. After all, everyone loves a hero.
I sped towards Earth, its mass appearing larger and larger as I got closer and closer. I looked to Mike, both of us reflecting some mixture of pride and exhilaration. There wasn’t a hint of fear in his face and that helped my confidence to grow. As Earth grew large enough to make out some details, I continued to accelerate. I had entered the Charge.
Mother Cloud lit the sky with flashes of lightning, each striking the Earth with familiar ferocity and force. Each new flash was accompanied by her battle cry. I missed her. Heavens, I missed her. It was enough to allow Benjamin to come crawling back to the surface again. I looked to Mike. He didn’t spam w me a glance at this stage, focused on our foe with a new intensity. For once, he wasn’t grinning, that wicked joy having gave way to some sort of warrior he had been encasing. I felt alone. I was approaching Earth quickly. Too quickly. It was so large. What was I against it? I tried to turn back but I kept falling. I had milliseconds left before I reached the Destination. I was starting to understand why no one came back. They hadn’t passed to some happy retirement elsewhere. The Destination was going to be all of our End. Closer, closer. And arrived.
I expected a crash at least. Perhaps a dent. I Ended with a mere plink on the glass of a car window, Mike next to me. Everyone I knew around me. I couldn’t yell loud enough to those still in the Mother Cloud but I wanted to. I’m not sure what I would have told them. I think I would have told them to stay up there. Don’t give in to the Falling. I don’t know if that was possible. And so, as the next generation began their Falling, I Ended, just as they soon would.
#action #suspense #philosophy #existentialism #abstraction