First read this where George R.R Martin sort of addresses his franchises race problem.
This jumped out at me:
In June, a fan asked Martin: “There are a white race, a black race in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, and many other races. Why there is no Asian race (Chinese-like, Japanese-like) in the Game of Thrones show and ASOIAF books?”
Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.
That is not to suggest that such places don’t exist, however. You will want to get THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE when it comes out in October. In the “Other Places” section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest,
So in a fantasy realm that is an analogue of the British Isles…that if you do non racist research you’ll learn is not the fantasy bastion of pure whiteness. We have:
- White Walkers
- Gigantic Wolves
- Children of the Forest
That totally works because well, what is fantasy without fantastical creatures.
But it is so hard to not erase the POC or to use them in deeply racist and problematic ways in the books?
Thinly veiled Latina (hot spicy slutty) stereotypes, people coded as Black referred to as “mongrels” by one of the Whitest White Savioring (Mother) slave lover/dehumanizer, rape rapity rape rape RAPE…all that is completely perfect for an Analogue of some time period in the British Isles that doesn’t fucking exist and that’s all okay BUT it is not okay to put Asian or Black folks in the story?
Yes really. It is something I have heard from White fantasy readers since I first wanted to talk about fantasy with other fans when I was a kid.
POC make the story unbelievable.
Even if the people (problematic or not) in the story are described as Black or Asian or Latina they are read as White or if the thing is moved to a visual medium they are magically white or as we found out when the Hunger Games came out, people are disappointed that a character is of color.
Look White authors, white readers this is why POC fans can’t trust you and why we are pissed off.
If you are going to rely on stereotypes that are harmful to actual readers because you can’t look at POC as full humans or you just won’t, don’t bother.
A lot of White authors wring their hands about how “hard” it is to write POC. Look it’s not really that fucking hard if you look at people of color as fully functional human beings. If you don’t actually do that and seriously honest with yourself, I question your motives and everything else.
One of the fundamental ideas about character is that they are in essence fully made beings and if you are a pretty good author you write them with depth.
If you write every other character (even to the non human) with depth and feeling and reduce your token POC to bed warmers, tongueless slaves, slaves or other two dimensional characters I don’t trust you.
As readers if you can legit believe in the perils of White Walkers and that winter is fucking coming and having non white fully formed characters in a story ruins it, well as they say you might be a racist.
Being both a fan and a creator let me show you how I feel about this in a nutshell:
God damn it.
We live in the fucking future.
It is 20 mother fucking 14 and White people still often act like POC are aliens and there’s no way to actually hear us speak or learn about us without colonizing or assimilating.
Come on now.
Try the fuck harder.