…or why can’t I have a conversation about diversity without explaining my lineage?
This is a rant. So, hang on tight. There will be cussing. You have been warned.
Over the past few years, it has become increasingly more difficult to convey my thoughts on diversity without having to tell the other participants what my ethnicity is. This, to me, is sign of how things have gone down the tubes in terms of conversations. It’s frustrating. Here are a few issues I have run into.
I look Caucasian.
Why? Because being what I am, Latina, is an ethnicity without a race. We can be indigenous, black, white, and even a mixture of all three. There is no designated color/race for Hispanics/Latinos. Our skin can range from pale to dark. This is why many in the Latino/Hispanic communities don’t see color. We don’t have one that defines what we are.
Many of us have been accused of black face, or the new black-fishing, because many of us can get very dark when we tan naturally and even more so when we use a tanning bed. We are doing neither when we tan. It’s just the way our skin works. Deal with it.
This is the first thing many go to when I try to have a discussion about organic diversity as opposed to forced diversity. Apparently, I am complaining when, if they want to have an ethnic character, I want a unique one with a full and reasonable backstory and personality. I don’t want my ethnicity represented by taking a white character and turning them Latino. If you want to grab my attention, make a Latino/Hispanic character with its own struggles and origins. That’s all I ask for and want.
I don’t want a character in a story that looks Latino/Hispanic with a really keen superpower or ability that has the personality of a wet sponge. That’s lazy.
To me, you are saying, “See? We’re diverse! Here is a [insert ethnicity here] person.” This sounds like another way of saying, “I’m not racist. Here is my [insert ethnicity/race here] person. It’s a cop out.
(Yes, there are ACTUAL racists who will lie to the race they don’t like to have a token. Is it right? No. Do they do it anyway? Yes.)
As a writer who is creating her own lore and universe for her characters, this irks me more than anything. Canon exists, and if you can’t follow the canon, make your own. How is this so hard to understand? You want to make people happy and eager to see or read your creations within a universe? THEN WRITE IT WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THAT LORE AND UNIVERSE. The creator of the lore and universe took years to develop that world and the characters in it, and you shitting all over it is VERY MUCH like telling them their idea is shit, and you, in your self-appointed superiority, have the audacity to say you’re improving it when you do that. You’re not. You’re insulting the originator of the lore. It’s not a good look.
I am not a WHAT!
I don’t want to be the Latina writer. I want to be Anissa Walker, author. I am more than my ethnic background. I am more than my skin color, and I sure as hell am more than what is between my legs. Don’t patronize me. I shouldn’t have to tell you WHAT I am to be able to have a conversation about diversity. I, as a writer, should be able to have a conversation about diverse characters without being dismissed for my skin color.
Until Next Time,
Anissa “Maddy” Walker