Race and Writing

OK folks, I do try staying out of politics, especially on social media. However, time and time again, the issue of race keeps popping up. Racist comments, whether intended or “jokingly”, have been stated from the president to prominent figures to everyday people.

As mentioned before, my grandma’s grandma (Sue) was full blooded Native American – Cherokee. Sue’s husband was also Native American, but we don’t know his percentage or of which tribe (most likely Cherokee, but we’re unsure). Sue’s parents walked in the Trail of Tears, but managed to escape it and settled in central Tennessee. There, Sue married her husband and had (I think) nine children. Just before the 1900’s began, Sue’s husband (census records call him W.H., but his gravestone had something else on it that I can’t remember right now) was accused of stealing a pig. Sue said there was no pig on the farm, nor was there any meat – they were too poor to afford meat. The husband was shot with out a trial or proof. My grandma asked Sue as to why she never called the police. (Number one, this was a different era, so no police.) But Sue responded, “We’re Indian. No one cared.” Sue raised my grandma and told her all throughout her youth, not to tell anyone she was Indian and would refuse to tell my grandma Sue’s family history for fear of being found out. This was in the 1930s and 1940s. At one point, Sue was offered property on the North Carolina Qualla Boundary, but she believed it was a trick of the government and ripped up the forms. My grandma can still buy property on Qualla Boundary, but refuses to because she believes it a betrayal of what her family was put through. My grandma seriously did not know who her great grandparents were until I did genealogy research a few years ago.

I write this to show/tell you what racism does to people, especially to my great, great grandma. Yes, this was a different time. Yes, this did not happen to me. But why is this still an ongoing issue today?

The truth is, I don’t know. At times I wonder if it comes down to the child is the product of how they were raised or a bad situation resulted in negative reasoning. But I don’t think that is the majority of cases. Part of it is down to the individual and how they perceive the world around them.

I’m from a predominantly white community in rural Indiana and was in for a “culture shock” when I went to college in Kentucky. However, I met some of the best people there and a black lady was so loved by our classmates that she was referred as “Mama” for the duration of the program. I’ve graduated several years ago, but still chat and meet with Mama regularly. I adore her. In comparison, I’ve got a white individual who lives near me who has had multiple run ins with the neighbors and the law. My point is, that it doesn’t matter the skin color or culture, there are good and bad people of every walk of life. We should not judge someone by their skin color, blood status, or culture.

A few examples of this are in writing:

  • Harry Potter series doesn’t so much focus on race exactly but does with the magical blood status. They are all magical, but there is the pure blood vs half blood vs muggle born.
  • In the Twilight Saga, I like how she did highlight the Quileutes Tribe.
  • Other examples are in Non-Traditional Characters

So to you writers: give your story depth. Add characters of different backgrounds and explore those backgrounds. You may be able to relate to a much wider audience and find additional plot twists to use. But don’t rule people out just because of something as minor as skin color.

I leave you with an explanation of three characters from Boy Meets World sitcom:

“All of us are from different backgrounds, like cards in deck.”

“Some cards are red, some cards are black. Some are kings and queens and some are sixes and sevens.”

“But without even one of them, the deck of cards doesn’t work. And that is what Mr. Matthews says is America.”

Watch it here.

L. R. Mauck

P.S. This is not written to create a discussion or a political piece. I only ask for people to open your minds and hearts.

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Odd Places to Find Writing Ideas

Sometimes, writing ideas just come to me without even thinking of a new idea. Very few times, I’ll stare at the wall, struggling to think of a story line or a good twist.

Well, one of the best tips to find that idea is view the world around you.

  • Watch TV
    • Watch Judge Judy or some of the other televised judges. Some of the stories people come up with for their cases would make for a good book, as long as you put in your own plot twist.
    • Dateline / 2020 / or any of the crime drama shows.
  • Read
    • Read some of the classics. I’ve seen people write books with new spins off of Shakespeare or Grimm Brothers.
    • Some of the stories in the Old Testament of the Bible can draw some wonderful plot ideas.
  • Talk to people
    • Talk to your grandparents. My grandma loves to tell stories of her grandparents when she was a child. They were Native American, so hearing of how they lived on a social level back in the early 1900s and the family drama is fascinating.
  • Explore new locations
    • If you have an extra day or so, pull out a map and take a day trip. Try to hit several towns / cities in that area to drive to. Visit museums, art galleries, coffee shops, parks in that area. Sometimes, just being in a new environments will give you that push you need.

L. R. Mauck

The Motivational Character

Let’s face it, there are times when we are down a mental or physical destructive path and we cannot get ourselves out of it. So, we turn to that one person who always knows the right thing to say or do to help us. Some times it’s a parent, a teacher, or a friend that will give us the perfect advice that we need.

I recently bought several seasons of the Boy Meets World television series. I remember Mr. Feeny always as the inspirational rock in the show. He always offered sound advice and never hesitated to point out where people were wrong. He even apologized a few times when he was in the wrong. You can’t hardly find anyone like his character in shows today.

However, there are several in books: Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Gandolf the Grey/White (Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird), Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web), etc. If you google it, you can find so many character’s who mean sometime to anyone based on actions and/or reasoning.

You can see quotes all over the internet that are inspirational. I want to encourage you, as a writer, to make your characters a little more than just run of the mill. I want your characters to have meaning in life, to inspire others to reach for those goals that others say they can’t reach, to get up when they have been beaten down so hard that they can barely physically move. I want them to face battles (war, health, drama) head on with the idea that they will overcome it or die with dignity. Have that motivational character always in the background, cheering the main character(s) on. Even in romance novels, you can make it to where the main characters need that push to open up their hearts again by having them gain advice from others.

Yes, this is a hard thing to do. You, as a writer, need to step out of your character’s world and reach out to the reader. Meet the reader on a deeper field with the same words to inspire other characters.

Note: You don’t have to clutter your novel up with meaningful messages from cover to cover (unless you’re writing a Chicken Soup book). Just place a few well meaning words at the start or close of the climax and it should work wonders.

L.R. Mauck

P.S. This was written while at work. I apologize if it doesn’t flow well or there are mistakes.