No matter how many years go by I still can’t fathom why people need to make everything about race. I came across a write up about somebody’s blog post and how the writer complained about diversity in books and stereotypes. Sure, this writer was happy for the diversity but then out spills the moan fest on how characters are stereotypical.
Here’s how I see it—a writer writes what they want and how they see their story. Perhaps they like Asian men/women (for this case I’m sticking with men) and they need their guy to be a protector so he either needs to know how to shoot or fight. Perhaps they go for fight because guns aren’t accessible where he’s at in one or more scenes. I’m not going to whine about the fact that some Asian character knows how to fight.
When I wrote Guarding Angel my thought was not about stereotypes. I had a character I wanted to write who fell into a series and needed to protect my leading lady. He did not grow up fighting. He grew up studying (gasp—a smart Asian is so stereotypical) but with things that happened to him in college he changed his career path and went to work for the U.S. Marshals. No, he’s not a fighter but he does know how to shoot. Let’s face it, he’s been working highly dangerous Witness Protection detail he sure better know how to do something.
I don’t look at a book and assume the writer had malice intent—that the writer wrote a cop who was Hispanic (is that a stereotype everywhere or something? It’s not where I live.) I don’t think they made the Navy SEAL white because all SEALs are white (newsflash—they’re not). I think the writer took a story in their head, built characters they find attractive around that story and sometimes the Asian guy knows how to fight or is smart enough to hack any computer. Sometimes the cop is Cuban-American or Mexican-American (or some other country depending on location of the story). Sometimes the Italian knows how to cook and the leading man is a celebrity chef. Sometimes the black woman is a single mother, or a woman working the “mediocre” front desk receptionist job at a small/major hotel. That job sounds pretty cool actually to me—especially if it’s a nice hotel.
At any rate, it still baffles me why some people beg for diverse characters and then complain about the job those characters have. Would they feel better about it if the cop were a white guy instead of a Hispanic guy? Would they feel better if the martial artist were a black guy instead of an Asian guy? Does it really matter that much? Is it distracting from the story or is it just that they need something to complain about so why not pick that out of the story?
One of the things I like reading from other authors is how they build characters that can hold my attention through the book. I’m not swiftly skipping pages because I’m bored; I’m actively reading with interest. I don’t care if the martial artist is Asian; I don’t care if he’s white. I do care if I like the story and want to keep reading it.
I like diversity because the world is not black and white and I don’t see why every character in every book needs to be. I also don’t assume that a character in a book can’t have a job because somebody thinks the people in that ethnic background all have that job.
How about just enjoying the book for the story instead of picking it apart to fit your own stereotypical beliefs.