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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Author: lrmauck

Over the last decade, I have received several positive feedbacks on my stories and one college professor encouraging me to pursue a career as a writer. I have attended a few elective writing classes at IUS to help hone in on my skills. I have recently attended Kentucky Writing Workshop in Louisville, KY where I learned more hands-on experience and encouragement from other writers. I currently resides in southern Indiana with my four fur babies. Follow me on twitter at: @lrmauck

2 thoughts on “Race and Writing”

  1. A side note: If you do the math – the Trail of Tears and Sue doesn’t add up easily – that’s because Sue was the second youngest of a lot of kids. She was a late in life baby to her parents.

    Like

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