We’ve all heard that representation is important in media. I would bet you’ve come across that Whoopi Goldburg quote about seeing Nichelle Nichols on TV for the first time (I’ve put it in here, just in case).
Representation is important.
I see the GLBTQ character and automatically assuming the creator is going to make them a stereotype, or kill them off--and I’m pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t happen. I see the Pagan and know the story’s going to involve blood sacrifice and really extreme, bizarre Satanism.
I see the nerd and know they’ll either get a makeover to be the pretty, popular kid, or be the butt of every joke until they have the random, obscure knowledge the save the day. I see the neurodivergent character and know there’ll be some ‘snapping point’ eventually where they go on a murderous rampage or the people around them just can’t deal any more.
Media is very, very slowly catching up and beginning to include more representation. But it’s still exhausting seeing yourself on screen or on the page as a stereotype. And, sometimes, we can start to internalize those messages that that’s who we are.
But we aren’t. We’re living, breathing people--not stereotypes and clichés.
Every time I do a panel or workshop about writing minority characters, someone inevitably asks if I have examples of writing them well. I struggle to come up with some, every time. There’s a few standbys I always go to that make me in particular feel seen (listed below), but the list is...depressingly small.
That’s why I write my own stories, both fanfic and original.
I write stories that feature diverse casts as people, going through the same fantasy and scifi adventures straight white cis folks get to go on. It’s cathartic, terrifying, rough, and wonderful. But I hope that, someday, they can at least help someone feel seen the way I want to be seen.
Because we all deserve to be seen, represented, and respected. It shouldn’t be that hard.
My examples of good minority writing:
Nonir is a queer pagan nerd and writes about various things in those realms.