Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things on My Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This is my first time participating in it, but I’ve been following them for quite a while and definitely recommend checking them out. This week’s list is things I, as a reader, would like to see (or see more of). Authors take note.

 

TOP TEN THINGS ON MY READING WISHLIST

1. Genre-bending, or period pieces that aren’t so period piecy

Okay, so love, comedy, crime, drama, etc are not exactly new. Yet somehow period pieces are always stuck being period pieces. Fantasy is stuck being fantasy. Sci-fi is all about sci-fi. But why? History was made up of ordinary people doing ordinary things. For every Alanna and Aragorn there are a thousand people in Tortall or Middle Earth not saving the world. Our literature should start exploring that. Why can’t we have a buddy comedy set in the Roman Empire? Just a couple of dumb Roman teenagers on their gap year picking up Gaulish chicks (or failing to pick up Gaulish chicks) and getting into wacky hijinks along the way. Why not a Law & Order style crime drama in 9th century Iceland? I mean, Vikings were way into law and half their sagas are about outlaws anyway. Why not a straight family drama in a secondary world fantasy setting? Or an indie comedy in a Sci-Fi dystopia? A spy thriller set in, well, pick an empire, any empire. Spies aren’t exactly a new thing, no matter how entrenched they are in the Cold War in our psyche. Think outside the genre, guys. There’s a whole world of possibilities out there. And I really can’t express how much I want to make that buddy comedy.

2. More dystopias where people aren’t weirdly aware of how dystopian it is

While we like to look back on real world dictatorships or regrettable periods in our history and pretend everyone totally knew it was bad and they were all waiting for [insert figure reviled in his time but beloved by history] to make it right, that’s not always how history went down. While those directly oppressed or effected may be much more aware, people don’t tend to have such a clear-cut awareness of the various ways in which their society is problematic (or, if so, to what extent it is flawed). The dictators don’t always slather buildings in Nazi-style red banners or have sinister facial hair or kick puppies or any number of other tropes seen far too often in sci-fi/dystopian literature. I’m not saying everyone is programmed to think the world they live in is 100% awesome, but too many characters have an objective or black-and-white opinion more akin to someone looking at a society in retrospect or through outside comparison than from within it. This goes double for isolated societies. It’s harder to know what about your society is screwed up when it’s the only thing you’ve ever known. This is not to say that your characters can’t take issue with things or even vehemently oppose/resist them, but the world should feel “normal” to its characters, even if normal doesn’t mean they approve. They can complain and rail against it all they choose, but characters should not balk at concepts as foreign or shocking if they are standard practise in their society. For example, Pride and Prejudice shows frustrations with a patriarchal system and need for marriage that are authentic to the time and culture, Disney’s Aladdin less so.

3. The historically accurate chapter after every fantasy novel’s happy ending

Most revolutions fail. So, you’ve overthrown Baron Von Sinister, Overlord Mage of Evil Despotism. Great. Now there’s a power vacuum. And some serious reconcilaition and reconstruction to do. After studying the spectacular failure of most revolutions (particularly the futility of the French Revolution), I had the realization that nearly fantasy novel I’d ever read featured a similarly naive revolution that didn’t exactly leave a new, stable order in place of the old regime. Statistically, these revolutions can’t all end in a lifetime of stability and prosperity. So, while the story ends with the coronation or the victory or the one true king being placed on the throne, three months later, or even three years later, half of those fantasy worlds should be engulfed in war or political chaos again. Yes, some fantasy books or series such as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire do address this and Legend of the Seeker began to explore it in season two before dropping that arc for the much less interesting zombies/Devil’s bid for power (I don’t know how it’s handled in the books and YES, I know I’m a heathen and I need to read them), but, statistically speaking, this should be the rule, not the exception. Most Chosen Ones should wind up dethroned by a dissenting faction, ripped limb from limb by angry peasants, killed by barbarian hordes, or (in true Napoleon style) turning into as much of a megalomaniac as they guy they overthrew (or even a way worse or way crazier one). In fact, I got so tired of not seeing this that I had to write it. Shameless plug, I know, but the Amazing Grace books told me to write what I wanted and wasn’t seeing.

4. More women written as people

Seriously. They’re not mystical unicorns. If you have trouble writing women, try talking to more women in a platonic, normal manner. You may find that they’re actually people under all that X-chromosome. Female characters should be relatable to most men the way male characters are to most women. Think of them first and foremost as people and as individuals.

5. More women

Not every story has to feature women. For example, stories set in all boys’ boarding schools, various militaristic settings (depending on historical setting), or men’s prisons can and should be man-centric stories. However, I do want some evidence that women exist and are something approaching half the population (unless that’s the point of your womanless post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel, X: The Last Woman). Women make up roughly 17% of movie characters, when they’re more like 52% of the real world population. That’s just not representative of reality. This is crucial in a secondary world or futuristic setting as worldbuilding should include some reference to women, their lives, and their involvement. Unless this planet/kingdom/whatever is populated entirely by men who reproduce via budding, give me some evidence that women occupy or even help shape this world, community, or sphere of existence.

6. More interracial couples where it isn’t the point of the story

Again, this is somewhat contingent on time/setting, although interracial relations/relationships were often more common than we’re sometimes led to believe. However, in modern-day America, 1 in 6 relationships are interracial. I don’t know the statistics for other countries, but we live in an increasingly globalized and mobile world. Our fiction should reflect our reality, without it having to be the focus of the narrative or a big deal. Same goes for same-sex couples.

7. More interracial couples that pass the Terra Nova Test

Okay, to start, I love Terra Nova. It was a great show. I’m still sad it didn’t get a second season. And I LOVED that it had more interracial couples and mixed race characters than typically seen. However, as the series went on I realized that every interracial couple was white dude, non-white woman. Similarly, of the three Shannon children, the two girls look like their non-white mother, but the boy is blue-eyed with white skin. While many mixed race people have light skin or light eyes or appear caucasian, this casting choice reinforced the increasingly uncomfortable message that only a certain type of exogamy is acceptable and that male main characters still need to be white guys. This is not unique to Terra Nova. It’s everywhere. Men are allowed to marry out because exoticism, but when women do it still freaks people out because xenophobia. I’ve talked about this before as it bothers me. Sorry if I’m a broken record, but this needs to change, even if it takes a conscious effort to do so. Thus, I have coined the term Terra Nova Test as a shorthand for whether or not a movie/TV show/book/etc reinforces this problematic trend or not. Note: the racial make-up involved can be changed to fit other cultures/countries/time periods. Tensions around exogamy v. endogamy are hardly new or unique to my own society.

8. More mixed race characters

See #6. Mixed race is the fastest growing group on the US census. Our literature should reflect that in an authentic, nonexploitative way. It can sometimes be a challenge to get across that a character, particularly a minor character or a character in a short story constrained by time, is mixed race in a way that comes up naturally, as there are less shorthands for the reader to take cues from without explicitly stating a character’s ethnic background, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Once again, this is a pet peeve in speculative fiction. For example, if your post-apocalyptic or secondary world society has been cut off from the rest of the world for X number of generations, it should be pretty ethnically homogenous by now. Avoid the inexplicable one black family of the City of Ember movie (Is there some sort of Targaryen situation going on there?) or the weird tokenism of having one minority character per town seen in Legend of the Seeker (Where do they come from? Does someone distribute them?). And, while we’re on the subject, please, please, please don’t bring in another minority character for the sole purpose of being a romantic partner for the one existing minority character (see Legend of the Seeker and Young Justice).

9. More “modern” realities in fantasy/sci-fi or historical fiction

There are a lot of things we think of as modern that have existed pretty much since the dawn of humanity. This is why I LOVE A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. It has dwarfism, dyslexia, mental illness, illness, abortion (albeit less overtly stated), seizures (although those are supernatural in nature), national debt, and all manner of things that have always existed but are all too often erased from history or left out of historical/speculative fiction. And, while some people like to pretend that homosexuality appeared in the 1960s, many a historical figure begs to differ. Both Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey address this, but it really should be more common. Once again, LGBTQ people should exist in fiction and can exist without it being the focus. Yes, they may be closeted due to the culture/time period, but they still should exist. I would, however, just say to be careful projecting our terms, concepts, and assumptions onto the past or onto other cultures, as they may have different attitudes towards sexuality, sexual identity, or gender expression.

10. Anything with okapi

Okapi are awesome. Why are there no okapi in books? I mean really, they’re like giraffes with zebra print leggings. What more do you need? Google them. Are they not amazing? They’re also the patron animal of cryptozoology because Europeans believed they were mythological (and sometimes unicorns) until some crazy British guy dedicated his life to proving their existence. He died without ever finding a live one, but his name lives on in these magnificent, quirky beasts. Writers and illustrators, get on this.

 

Now excuse me as I ride my okapi into a well-written, multi-ethnic, genre-bending world of developed female characters, politically unstable fantasy kingdoms, and realistic dystopias.

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About boundandgaggedbooks

Shannon is a freelance writer and folklore buff. She has a degree from Hampshire College in Creative Writing/Mythology & Religion, with an emphasis on epic/oral traditions, their anthropological implications, and their modern counterparts. Her work can be found in Fabulously Feminist, Wolf Wariors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology, The Concord Monitor, Redhead Magazine, and The Climax.

45 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things on My Reading Wishlist”

  1. Katie @ Book Savvy says :

    I agree with #2 – I like dystopian novels where the characters seem to think it is the norm, like in The Giver and Uglies. Then, when one of the characters decides to break out of the utopian mold, it seems even more drastic. Nice list!
    Check out my TTT list and please follow my blog, Book Savvy: http://booksavvyblog.blogspot.com/

  2. booksofamber says :

    I adore this list, and couldn’t have said it better myself. I would definitely love to see more female characters, whether they’re main protagonists or secondary characters. Same goes for non-white characters and interracial couples. Especially in YA, because it seems as though most authors like to throw in the token character and leave it at that. Sometimes they’re even non-white AND queer. Fantastic. Can we just have more diversity, please?

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      Exactly! Thank you for commenting. I’m so glad my rambling is appreciated. I actually just wrote a story and thought there were way too many female characters, but I counted and it was an exact 50/50 split. It just seemed like a lot of women because half the cast is way more than typically seen in fiction. I’ve started, when I have a character, particularly a minor character, questioning why I made them the race or gender I chose. Like, why did I make the nurse a woman and the police officer a man? Can I switch them? Or, this character hasn’t been given a physical description, what do they look like? Why? Are they English? Welsh? Balkan? South Asian? All of the above? How do they feel about this? What parts of their ethnic background do they most identify with? How do they identify with it? How do they chose to present it to the world?

  3. Leslie Barnsley says :

    Love this list! I think the idea of gender/race etc. just being a part of the background of the story is exactly what we need. It is almost more powerful of a point on inclusion if it just “is” in the story rather than being the focus of the story.

  4. acps927 says :

    I like the idea of the genre-bending idea as well as dystopias where they aren’t aware, because I think there’s a lot of truth to the fact that most people living in a dystopia society aren’t aware!

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated. Both of those are my demand for realism and historical accuracy warring with my love of dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy/historical literature.

  5. Space Station Mir says :

    While I agree that fantasy novels should take political turmoil into account, I do want to say that even though LOTR ends with the rightful king on the throne, a trope that many novels have followed, the rest of the book concerns dealing with the political mess left behind in the Shire. And as for most of the kingdoms, well, Rohan and Gondor are still basically under the same systems they’ve always been, and so are the elves, it’s really only the Orcs left in a political vacuum!

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      LOTR does a pretty good job (though there is more than a bit of rose-tinted nostalgia and naiveté in its attitude towards monarchy, doubly so in The Hobbit). It leaves a much more stable government in place. However, most fantasy novels leave a considerably shakier political situation in their wake, particularly when overthrowing a domestic threat or established order (Vader, Darken Raul, etc) rather than an outside invader such as the Orcs or the Eastlings.

  6. david says :

    You bring up some good points, but as a person who is “mixed race,” I think depictions of such — and people in color, in general — are a balancing act that’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t know what it’s like for their looks to *not* make them a part of the normal background. Occasionally not being white or white enough negatively affects one’s life. Of course, it’d be quite heavy to let that be the entire focus of one’s being, but the kind of sensibility that wants to ignore that altogether is only the tiniest bit progressive (Of course a tiny bit can be better than nothing). I mean, if you’re writing fiction you can craft a better society certainly that has little to do with our own — but usually the flaws that are engrained into society, and us as a part of society, influence them, anyway. Knowing that such is a part of the world we always have to struggle with a bit — that’s one of the reasons we need diversity beyond appearances.

    The kind of dynamic you mention in Terra Nova is the kind of superficial attempt at diversity I lament — and I have no doubt that the vast majority of that show’s writing staff were not people of color. . .

    You see the only two black characters on a show pairing up as obvious and easy — and it is awfully convenient, along with even being a bit of a cliche in mainstream movies/TV shows. But in our “post-racial society” it’s increasingly rare for black people in any mainstream genre work to be paired with another person who is also black. It challenges what mainstream readers are used to — to have to invest in a couple made up of *two* people that they might see as alien. I could appreciate it on that level. ..

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      The two non-white characters dating I lamented was in the context of them being the only non-white characters or in non-earth environments where they are weirdly distributed in a very token-esque way (see Legend of the Seeker, where there’s one minority character per town unless one of them needs a love interest) or in an isolated environment (see City of Ember) where it makes no logistical sense and just seems like anxiety around exogamy or sticking to the status quo. Exogamy is also an interest of mine both due to studying religion and culture and dating someone from two of the cultures least open to marrying out. And, of course, you can have interracial relationships where neither party is white. Same goes for mixed race characters. And again, mixed race characters would all have very different attitudes towards their identity, ethnic/cultural backgrounds, nationality, and means of expressing these attitudes and all of these should be considered by the author even if they aren’t all on the page.

      • david says :

        I completely got that you were talking about a diversity that’s quite token-based, and I don’t disagree with that notion — except that in Young Justice, with the pairing of Karen Beecher and Mal Duncan. I could obviously see some value in a different context. I suppose my hang-up with elements of your piece — and it’s a general problem — is that there’s almost never work by a person of color mentioned in such takes on how race should be portrayed.

    • nightwing17 says :

      I think that Mal and Karen are a fine example of what went right with Young Justice. All the same, there’s still the awkward kiss between Kaldur and Raquel in Auld Aquaintance.

      YJ did Rocket a huge service by putting her in front of a much larger audience, but in season one she just kind of appeared, played a minor role in the adventure and hung around so that Kaldur would have someone to kiss on new years eve.

      That’s weird and kind of annoying on its own but next to red-headed Wally and very white looking Artemis and the two pseudo-Roma and there’s some definite weirdness along racial lines.

      As for your greater problem, yes. I don’t think anyone can honestly claim that PoC are given a big enough voice in discussions about their own role in society. I’m not sure I see it in play here; there weren’t many examples listed and with the abysmal disparity between white creators and people of color in storytelling positions it’s sadly unlikely that the first examples to enter the mind would have that experience.

      Something I would like to see this year: Characters of color in media that’s not “for” PoC. While I’d never blame a creator of color for trying to balance the scales a bit, too often PoC are only given a voice in media intended for PoC and with casts that are not only overwhelmingly of color but also overwhelmingly of one race.

      Some people will defend it by saying that it’s a mirror image of what ‘white media’ presents but anyone suggesting that the two hold equal cultural power is deeply optimistic or profoundly misguided. You’re very right that we need to challenge the racist assumptions of comfort, but I think that interracial couples, especially couples between two people of color only help to improve our culture’s relation with race.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I couldn’t agree more. That is exactly what bothered me about that episode, especially since Rocket had just been brought in that episode and seemed to serve no other function than to pair everyone up for kiss time (already annoying apart from the racial implications. Why does everyone need a romantic pairing for that one schmalty bit of fanservice?), and then they go and introduce a bunch of new characters the next episode anyway and completely upend the status quo of the show/cast/character dynamic, so why not bring her in one episode later when it would make more sense and seem less weird? Anyway, I think Jhumpa Lahiri handles both hybrid identity and mixed race very well. The story in which she explores the tensions of an Indian American mother, her Indian father, and her half-Indian son, though short, was well-done and pleasantly unresolved. I want more like that. Alison Croggon is another one who seems to have a better handle on race and the complexities of identity and hybrid identity in her fiction, particularly in a genre not exactly known for its excellent handling of race.

      • david says :

        I just spent ten minutes replying, but of course the browser closed on me. So, here we go again.

        Characters like Rocket from Young Justice and now Diggle on Arrow are certainly undercut by ensuring traditional heroes get, more or less, their traditional screen time.

        With very little people of color behind the scenes in mainstream media, perhaps it’s no surprise that any such work would be considered when you’re talking about diversity in fiction. But I think that’s systemic. About thirty-five percent of the content of that wish list was inter-dependent on people of color. It’s not uncommon to see iterations of the same sentiments, because they’re the politically correct lines that writers — writers more traditionally aligned with the definition of the word — want to hold in this new diverse world. But it’s always been diverse, and it seems like there’s even less consideration for people of color as writers and artists with a say in how they’re represented than before the traditional publishing bust — you know, before publishing didn’t cater so much to the same demographics as popular entertainment.

        People of color aren’t generally going to define themselves as “character in minority fiction,” but there’s challenges to that as normal as looking the way that would have one’s general humanity considered up front in the foreground.

        When it comes to entertainment specifically marketed to people of color, that’s essentially niche programming. An easy, obvious example is in the African-American vein. It’s a strange dynamic, though, because African-Americans have primarily been disenfranchised and made to live within red lines — so generally speaking, who else is going to see the best in one’s self but other African-Americans? If not this, then “African-American entertainment” has certainly been made with a world crafted out of being red-lined as the given template. The reason African-Americans are often the go to point of discussion for race is because, barring all the stuff appropriated by popular culture, black skin has been long portrayed as the opposite of virtue, what the lack of race has been cultivated to imply — in a way that other people of color have often been closer to by simply not being black. Though it’s changed somewhat, it didn’t use to be that this niche programming was so much in that vein. Both the most well-known Cosby-oriented series — the few in that era to have had any real black creators — were mainstream offerings. You’re right that today’s ilk is decidedly lacking in overall cultural influence. To some degree, some of it capitalizes on old tropes people of color didn’t even come up with.

        I agree with your last point; it’s just hardly as simple as people think. Here’s a post I did on that: http://davidmzs.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/race-actually/

      • nightwing17 says :

        Ain’t that always the way it works. My respect for taking the time to write this all put again.

        Your comments about Rocket and Diggle are familiar and generally accurate ones, however, since we were using Rocket as an example, it’s worth noticing that in Young Justice the traditional hero she supported was a young person of color.

        I’m not sure I understood your next point fully. My interpretation is that the list’s call for greater inclusivity is flawed because the change has to come from writers of color. If that’s not your meaning please correct me but I’m not sure I agree.

        I don’t see how a desire for greater diversity in fiction is going to prevent the expression of other voices. If anything, voicing such concerns puts pressure on those in charge and provides support to those who feel underrepresented.

        If you have concerns about white savior syndrome, obviously change isn’t going come until all voices are heard, but I don’t think it benefits anyone to limit or stifle the number of people fighting for fairer media. The marketplace is rigged against PoC, and having honest allies is important.

        Particularly with the Terra Nova Test, I find a very real criticism of the film industry, caught in cowardly old thoughts and afraid of foreign masculinities. Especially as someone in an interracial relationship, it’s disheartening to see such ridiculous rules drawn up around me.

        In short, I’m not sure that a brief response to the issues of representation is as reductionist as it seems you feel it is. I don’t think that you’re wrong in any serious way, but this seems a weird trigger.

        Perhaps I’ll understand better after reading your post. I’ll add any further response to that once time allows.

      • david says :

        I’m not suggesting that anyone be limited, but if it’s already assumed that someone else can be an expert on experiences they don’t have — even if that person wants to avoid all the stupid tropes in the world, I don’t have to prescribe to their expertise. People of color have to prove themselves every step of the way,, and so should they.

        My assertion was the opinions of people of color that might be the least challenging to whiteness aren’t even on the table of this diversity — this diversity that’s supposed to be a boon to people like them.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I’m afraid I don’t know what to say. I never claimed to have any expertise or authority on anything, except my own thoughts, experiences, and feelings. I am sorry if that’s how it came across, but it’s not my intent at all and I don’t really know what it is we’re arguing anymore.

      • nightwing17 says :

        I counter that white people don’t have to prove themselves, and neither should people of color.

        At some point it becomes inappropriate to come unbidden into someone else’s identity, but fiction is the assumption that someone, writer or reader, can be an expert on experiences they don’t have.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I, too, am not sure I understand what you are trying to convey, especially as I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I completely agree that these issues are way more complicated than a 10 bullet reading wishlist can convey and I apologize if that was not already clear. I talk a lot about issues of representation in front of and behind the camera/pages, etc on this blog (whether it be race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, subculture, etc) and still barely feel that I have scratched the surface of my own feelings about it — let alone that of the vast universe of experiences beyond my own. Perhaps it was a mistake to mention such a complex issue in so short a post, but it is one that I feel very strongly about and that effects both my life and many of those I care about (far more than it does my own), so that’s where my mind went when asked “what do you want to see”. If this seems like some sort of diversity checklist to be politically correct, I don’t know what to tell you. That was not and will never be my intent, and I thought that my distaste with awkward tokenism or poorly fleshed out characters made that clear. If it did not, once again I apologize. I am simply a person who wants to see my reality and the realities of those around me (and those not around me) slightly more accurately represented, especially since I may very well have mixed race children and want them to grow up seeing families like theirs and people like them in fiction, and, preferably, as something normal, healthy, and unremarkable. Frankly, I want all children to be able to see themselves and their families in fiction, and to see all sorts of characters and families unlike their own too, as that is also beneficial.

  7. david says :

    I was actually responding to nightwing up there. I really wasn’t trying to argue in the first place. After reading that one comment that amounted to “race should be in the background” — when the challenges of it are a normal part of people’s lives, I just begged to differ.

    And to nightwing’s last comment: Of course people of color shouldn’t have to prove themselves, but they often do — that’s reality. It’s a bit of a disservice to imply it’s that simple. I agree with that definition of fiction; it’s just the exclusivity of expertise in the mainstream sense, and the obvious lack of perspective that can come with it, that bothers me. .

    For instance, most people who write about gentrification are gentrifiers — this obvious point was heralded recently in some literary magazine, again by people whom would probably admit they fall on the gentrifier side. They may have great points, but they’re not the ones whose worlds are most affected, limited by gentrification. People who are gentrifiers would obviously prefer their sensibilities, though. .

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      I don’t think that’s what Nightwing17 is saying. I’ve discussed race (in and out of fiction) many times with him and I think he’s saying it doesn’t have to be the focus all the time, not that it shouldn’t ever be.

      • david says :

        By ‘one comment,’ I didn’t mean his; I meant an earlier one, the one that read: “I think the idea of gender/race etc. just being a part of the background of the story is exactly what we need.”

        That, and the lack of perspective about Karen and Mal — even if their pairing is just an old diversity trope, do you know how rare it is to have a black male character have a black female love interest in a mainstream show anymore? I didn’t expect you to be an expert on diversity, but if I think the one you’re talking about is lacking a bit of perspective — it doesn’t mean I’m arguing.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        But Nightwing17 said he didn’t have a problem with Karen and Mal. It was the Rocket/Kaldur pairing in one episode that we both took issue with. I’m also not sure that having a different perspective means inherently lacking one. Both are underrepresented couples in the media.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I actually found Mal and Karen to be a refreshingly realistic relationship that ran its course (a very rare thing indeed for teen media and one I always love seeing). I wasn’t talking about them at all when I referenced Young Justice’s problematic components.

  8. david says :

    Kaldur and Rocket were such a non-entity as a couple that Karen and Mal stood out even more for me. By the time the former pair were mentioned in the comments, I didn’t even really pick up on them. I am sorry for the assumption.

    And you’re right, different perspective doesn’t mean inherently lacking one. Maybe the perspective I empathize with the most on race is one that’s wounded firsthand.

    Sometimes I think the diversity that people want is just exotic-covered normalcy, which can sound really well-meaning. But it doesn’t know what to do with the wounded; it has no real perspective on how unlovable pop culture has made dark skin without the gauze of rarity or coolness. It just wants people all mixed up into this — as an acquaintance of mine might say — magical concoction that bridges everything — though, most likely one form of privilege to another.

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      This seems to be what we disagree on. I don’t see wanting my relationship viewed as something normal and commonplace instead of some sort of lingering media taboo/anxiety as “exotic-covered normalcy” or “a magical concoction that bridges everything”. I just see it as the media catching up with an increasingly common reality. It won’t solve everything or make us all get along or erase millennia of human history. But it’s a step in the right direction.

  9. david says :

    Maybe it is. But the media has a way of making things that aren’t gold glitter, and as someone who is mixed race now, I see that normalcy for what it often is — as generally shallow as any other human relationship. Doesn’t mean I’m against it. I just want depth and awareness. That link I posted might give you a better idea of what I mean, and you certainly wouldn’t have to agree.

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      I want depth and awareness as well. That was kind of the point of this.

      • david says :

        Nightwing pretty much hit the nail on the head with this: ” *As for your greater problem, yes. I don’t think anyone can honestly claim that PoC are given a big enough voice in discussions about their own role in society.* I’m not sure I see it in play here; there weren’t many examples listed and with the abysmal disparity between white creators and people of color in storytelling positions it’s sadly unlikely that the first examples to enter the mind would have that experience.”

        Though he didn’t see it in play here, and I do think you’re trying (at this point, how could I not?), it’s a pet peeve of mine — always reading these sentiments from people without a firsthand awareness of the pain of a life limited by the hierarchies of race. Why mention the most fleeting minority character pairing in Young Justice and not Mal and Karen? I’m the one who pointed to them as something more noticeable in the vein you mentioned — but that had a unique and positive quality. I mean, blue-eyed Kaldur is an attempt at having a more palatable, more exoticish-than-black character, in the first place . I felt like the talk of race not always having to be in the forefront of the story — that’s a complicated matter, and it wasn’t speaking to people of color as creators in their own narratives. Even as a mixed race person, I can clearly see there’s a preference for mixed race as examples of diversity — because they’re less ethnic (sometimes not consciously) — than for really valuing the humanity of people of color.

        Obviously you weren’t trying to speak to some of these things, but I think they’re vital. It is a bit much to expect that kind of awareness, though, and I’m sorry if it seems like I’m asking you to be Atlas with a person of color background

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I did not bring up Mal and Karen because I was giving examples of where interracial relationships are problematic and, as we’ve established, I don’t think Mal and Karen are. Yes, the pairing of Kaldur and Rocket is fleeting. That was my point. It was totally unnecessary, and with pairing off the two potentially (canon is complicated) Roma characters in the same breath, it made it that much more uncomfortable. And it’s just one more thing in the media that reminds me that my relationship, and others like it, is still outside the norm or less acceptable.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        Furthermore, I don’t prefer mixed race as a “better” form of diversity. I just think it should be represented in addition to and alongside others. I want it to exist, not to be better or worse or more central than anything else.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        You also seem to be presuming a level of ignorance on Nightwing17 and my behalf that comes across as very dismissive, given that you don’t know either of us or are backgrounds and lives. I am white, yes. Nightwing17 is mixed race. But we both have our own feelings and experiences beyond presumptions from minimal internet interaction.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        *our backgrounds, rather

  10. david says :

    I was talking about society in general, regarding the preference for mixed race — and you may want to disassociate yourself from society, but the kind of diversity that you want to see in particular is the one that affects you and it’s the one society happens to prefer. I guess that’s natural, and maybe I was being dismissive of another example of what I see as a general thing, and that takes away from you as an individual. But I don’t think your particularly mindful about your own privilege in regard to your opinion on how someone like me is represented, and I don’t see why I can’t critique that — though perhaps it’s not best-served coming from an emotional place.

    I read enough of Nightwing’s blog to get a sense that he’s generally considered white enough appearance-wise — and that he considers himself somewhat raceless. That said, I did think that he had a bit more of an understanding of where I was coming from than you do.

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      I’m sorry you see my desire for more, better-written interracial relationships as self-bor privileged, but it’s what I have the personal experience to speak from. Although it seems you do not think I have enough of that either. I want to see more diversity in other areas too, that it just what I chose to speak about on a ten bullet meme, which, given it’s short length (already much longer than Top Ten Tuesday is really intended to be), is not a great forum to discuss the complex issues around exogamy, race, and hybrid identity, which is why it is something I frequently discuss on the blog. Though, as said above, I could do this for years an still only scratch the surface. Furthermore, reading Nightwing17’s one review of Miss Marvel doesn’t mean you know him or can dismiss him for being too white for his opinion to hold as much weight. If this is not what you’re doing, I apologize, but that is how it’s coming across. Clearly, you and I fundamentaly disagree. I was asking for more of one kind of diversity. I was not attempting to take anything from anyone else or assert my wishes as more important than anyone else’s and still don’t see why wanting more of any one thing has to be mutually exclusive or at the detriment of another.

      • david says :

        “I was not attempting to take anything from anyone else or assert my wishes as more important than anyone else’s and still don’t see why wanting more of any one thing has to be mutually exclusive or at the detriment of another.”

        I suppose that’s what it felt like, to your first point, and I get that wasn’t intentional. Secondly, it’s a question of practicality — the way the world works and not the way we want to. Practically matters. In the way the world works I frequently see that being the wounded minority, dark skin, nappy hair — mainstream media is not as interested in the people who inhabit these painful things having voices that evolve/get appreciated without whitewashing. So it can feel like diversity that’s more palatable to what society would prefer — it can feel like that takes away from the former.

        I did try to understand where Nightwing was coming from, because he had interesting things to say that I could relate to, up to a point. I would think that when one considers themselves raceless, they don’t really have a vested interest in sorting race out. That’s not an entirely illogical assumption.

        I did think that your post spoke to something on a broader level. Ideas like these are not crafted in a vacuum, is the thing, and well, agree to disagree is right I sadly suppose.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I think we’re having two really different conversations and I don’t appreciate you deciding for Nightwing17 whether or not he has a vested interest in things that effect him too. If he’s taking time writing about it, discussing it, and sharing his experiences, obviously he does. Agreeing to disagree is all I can do at this point.

      • david says :

        I was not deciding for him. I was expressing my opinion about something he expressed. I did say it was an assumption on my part. I certainly have felt like we’re on two different planets, but I don’t think I have the personal dislike for you that you seem to have for me from my opinions.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I have a personal dislike for you using my friend sharing his personal experiences with race to dismiss his personal experiences about race. As many of my mixed race friends often feel shut out of conversations about race by all sides and frequently have their “credentials” questioned, I find using one post of his (which he shared despite experiencing invalidation in the past) to invalidate his identity and ability to have an opinion really skeezy when discussing how wrong it is that we live in a society where people have their identity and opinions invalidated. I find that incredibly patronizing and out of line, though I don’t know you enough to like or dislike you as a person. Nightwing17 has decided not to continue this conversation and I think he has the right of it. This is my blog. Take it or leave it. But do not invalidate my friend on it.

      • david says :

        I am sorry for invalidating his experience. He agreed with me up to a point, and I don’t know … I guess I didn’t want to see past that point, because I felt like you couldn’t really see mine, which was/is an emotional thing. But that’s a pretty crappy reason to block it out.

        Maybe it all comes down to is a solidarity that I can’t feel — or let myself feel sometimes. I really haven’t meant to be as contrary as I’m sure I come off. I was just trying to give a glimpse of some emotional wavelength that I think is never really considered because it’s too heavy.

      • boundandgaggedbooks says :

        I think perhaps all three of us are feeling that our points are not coming across right or that the other is misunderstanding and its causing a lot of frustration all around, particularly as we are all bringing our past experiences and triggers to this conversation to some extent. Which is perhaps, a sad but true glimpse of one of the larger hurdles around discussing race for society at large. Whatever the case, I think it’s best we part on whatever shred of common ground we can all see. I wish you well.

      • david says :

        Agreed. I wish you the same.

    • boundandgaggedbooks says :

      While you may be discussing society, not me, we were discussing my blog post, and it seemed to me that that is what you were taking issue with (and putting a lot of words in my mouth). This post is my honest thoughts for a weekly meme. If it offends, I apologize. But, at this point, there is nothing further I can do. You and I disagree. It’s not a first on the internet and I’m certain it won’t be the last time.

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