Writing race

You know me, I’m all for a bit of equality and diversity.

But when I write my characters, they come to me to tell a story, not to put a tick in a box. In the story I’m currently writing, the main character’s husband is black and their daughter is therefore mixed race. The story itself has no theme of race, it is simply that they are what they are.

Which got me thinking a couple of things. Firstly, as a white woman in England, is it easy for me to say things like ‘it’s not about race’ because race never factors into my daily decisions and life? Secondly, am I in a position to understand that element of a person’s life within my characters in an authentic fashion?

It’s certainly easy to overthink things. It’s a thorny topic and in some ways I’m reticent to even write a blogpost about it. I want to be true to the story I want to tell, but I also want to be true to the characters as they would perceive the world. I don’t want to offend anyone by a series of assumptions and presumptions based on my own limited view of the world.

In that sense, as a writer coming from a place of my own experience, it would be easier simply to make them all white. Write what you know, isn’t that what they say? But there are people of all races, religions, abilities and sexualities in my life and although I may never walk a day in their shoes, it doesn’t mean I should exclude them my stories just because that would be easier for me. That’s how no one grows and inequality prospers.

So, I may get it wrong. I may overthink or underthink things. I may accidentally offend, but I promise never to intentionally offend. Above all, I’ll try to tell an authentic story, no matter how difficult or challenging that may be.

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