I think I’m color-blind when it comes to skin tones. Besides my international upbringing, I love watching movies from all over the world, which brings to my attention many shades of skin tones. My virtual casts are truly intercontinental by now, and I try to describe respectfully the people of color I put in my stories (although in my older books you’ll still find food comparisons for darker skins and almond-shaped eyes).
Both Silvery Earth and the Star Minds Universe have different shades of humanity and they are usually treated equally. There might be the bully like in Silvery Earth Kids or the racist individual, but usually my characters are as blind to skin tones as I am. For me, we’re all humans, no matter the exterior. For this era of hatred towards the supposedly different, it might be a different viewpoint.
Like I mention in the new introduction to Silvery Earth, most of my characters are outsiders or outcast, no matter their skin tone. The Amazons hate and oppress men, other populations oppress women. I have black and white empires who rise and fall – and only the almond-eyed empire seems to be quite stable in its archipelago, but then, it’s much smaller than the rest.
I have plenty of mixed blood (whether with alien races, magical races or simply different skin tones) and they’re usually more powerful or more awesome than the rest because they get the best of two worlds.
I do have a good mix of cultures in both series, and I hope I came across as natural. I drew from my own experiences, but I was in a diplomatic setting, so it’s probably skewed towards more tolerance than what one finds in the actual suburbs or with other kinds of migrants.
Like I mentioned at the dawn of my blog, I grew up in an international environment and my very Catholic upbringing as well as the 1970s songs about a world without borders opened my mind to different skin tones. They were all brothers and sisters to me.
I was dumbfounded when my Indian friend said that I should not use pink for both of us. I was drawing us chibi-style as we chatted in her house in Delhi, and I was using her colored pencils to make my doodle nicer when she pointed out that she’s brown, not white. I swear I didn’t really notice (I might have considered her suntanned, like southern Italians, maybe?), but I dutifully grabbed a light brown pencil and corrected my mistake.
So I hope my colored friends won’t be mad at me for tackling this sensitive subject in the wrong way. Words seem to escape me when I try to explain how I feel about this fucked up humanity bent on self-destruction, which makes me want to write an apocalyptic tale – hopepunk version, because I still think there are good people in the world, regardless of their gender, skin tone or abilities.
Anyhow, back to my stories – even my secondary world of Silvery Earth has a wide variety of Human races. And besides half-bloods with the Magical Races, I have mixed couples (The Black Princess, included in More Tales of the Southern Kingdoms, ends up with a southern prince).
So if felt natural to have Torik fall in love with Adwin’s sister (white man – black woman) after seeing Karina (brown woman) was happy with her (brown) husband. I hope this is not taken as white privilege, but really as my limit to understand those differences.
Besides, I’m not a white man, but a woman who had her “me too” moments and a crush on an African American that went nowhere (but some racist acquaintances made awful remarks about him. Guess who’s coming to dinner is still a favorite, even though it came out when I was two and saw it in the 1980s – but then, things haven’t changed much, and I could imagine my parents react just like that if things had gone differently with my black crush.
Add a later (in life) interest in other cultures because truth is stranger than fiction and making up stuff based on reality is much better than improvising. But I learned the fun of researching, thanks the the mighty World Wide Web that puts everything at your fingertips.
And I’m very happy that this year’s Miss Universe is a gorgeous black beauty from South Africa. And I shall leave you with Michael Jackson’s song “Black or White” with some great morphing effects that now look so 1980s! 🙂