Spent the day wondering if I can make my hero likable and a racist. Which got me to racism generally. And that’s a deep and wide river. Is there a line? Where do you draw it? Are all racists the same kind of person? Are there degrees of racism?
On YouTube, Cornel West talks about how the contemporary Black community didn’t have much time for Baldwin, and that it was white liberals who made him popular. I have sympathy for white liberals, and tons of admiration for West and Baldwin both.
Then I get to thinking about how I capitalize Black but not white in that last paragraph. What am I saying? Am I right? How will I know? How long will a set of rules last?
I tend to follow motive as a through line for moral error. If you believe that skin tone matters, that’s a sort of Type 1 racism. If you inadvertently use a racist trope or cliché, that’s still racism, but is it the same kind? Is it as dangerous? And what if the trope is – essentially – complimentary rather than derogatory? Asians and math, Kenyans and marathons, First Nations and heights, Macedonians and hair (don’t laugh – I was told once that I had a ‘Macedonian hairline’).
See how much time you can spend here? I’m done for now. For me, the way through is Story. Let the Story come first. For now, my hero is set up as a Type 2 racist. He’ll end up somewhere else. If his journey reads authentically, that’s a win.
Melanie just sent me her chapter, so the ball is back in my court. We’ll see where we are as we move forward.