Black People are not Aliens

This is my response to a question by another writer asking about whether to include a black person in their story. Others were tending to say that she might struggle and should write what she knows.

Write what you know does NOT exclude black people. You know them. Even if you have never met one. You know them because they are people first. They do not define themselves by their blackness. The minor character in your story will define herself as a person, as a friend, as a mother, as a lover, as a doer of whatever she does for fun or money. Write a person. Describe black skin. It will will succeed. Guaranteed.

The correct short name for black people isn’t blacks, it’s people.

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2 thoughts on “Black People are not Aliens”

  1. Although I agree with the sentiment, a person’s skin tone affects their everyday experience (how others treat them, mostly) and therefore their worldview. Of course, tons of things affect everybody’s worldview, and nobody would say, “You might struggle to write a tall person. Write what you know.” Or would even say that a black person shouldn’t write a white person. So as I said, I agree with the sentiment. I just also think you shouldn’t shy away from letting a character’s skin tone have a say in who they are, because sometimes it does.

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    1. Thanks. Point well taken. It’s true, people are people and their individual circumstances define who they are and how they act. This includes their ethnic background so you are right, this can add a flavour.

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