On Writers, Sensitivity, and the Supposed Threat to Free Speech

Last week, I wrote about sensitivity readers.

That is to say, about those who are subject matter experts on different forms of marginalization in society, who writers can recruit to help them bring verisimilitude to the portrayal of marginalized characters in fiction.

The use of sensitivity readers is a growing trend in fiction as more and more stories about marginalized characters are being published – particularly since more and more of these sorts of stories are being written by writers who themselves are not marginalized.

Continue reading

On Writers, Sensitivity, and the Savvy of Modern Readers

Fiction writers have always employed the advice and experiences of subject-matter experts to help bring authenticity to their stories.

Sensitivity readers, as it happens, are subject-matter experts on experiences with different types of marginalization in mainstream society.

Continue reading

Filing the Holes in Black History

african-roots

During my undergraduate degree in environmental studies, a particular course in the history department caught my eye.

This course was called History of Africa South of the Sahara.

I first I discovered this course during my first year while thumbing through the course catalogue planning for my upper years.

Ooh, this would be an interesting elective, I thought upon reading the course description:

Continue reading

Whitewashing vs. Racebending: Yes, There is a Difference

Samuel L. Jackson starring as a racebent Nick Fury

Samuel L. Jackson starring as a racebent Nick Fury

You can count on it.

Whenever a major media outlet posts an article about the problem of whitewashing in mainstream entertainment, there is a certain response that’s guaranteed to appear in the comments thread.

Well it’s no different than casting a person of colour in a role meant for a white person, so if they had a black James Bond, it’d be equally racist and offensive.

Continue reading

Whitewashing is Still a Problem in Mainstream Media (even if it’s not happening this time)

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek: Into Darkness, playing the role of an important non-white character from the Star Trek universe

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek: Into Darkness, playing the role of an important non-white character from the Star Trek universe

I’ve always had a fondness for stories about female warriors.

Among my favourites is Hua Mulan, the legendary subject of an Ancient Chinese epic poem about a young woman takes her aged father’s place in the military by disguising herself as a boy.

In the 1998 Disney cartoon, Mulan, she is shown exhibit bravery, ingenuity, and honour, and succeeds in helping save China from invaders.

Continue reading

The world is a terrible place.  We have to use the power of story for the ultimate good.

Candlelight vigil

The world is a terrible place.

It’s hardly worth referencing a specific incident to support this statement.  Just turn on your TV.  Turn on the radio.  Log on to any social media platform.  Open your front door.  You could spit and it would land on something awful taking place.  The reasons why are too numerous to count.

Continue reading

On Captive Protagonists, Slash Fiction, and the Fantasy of Gender Equality

Kirk and Spock

There was an unsuspecting evolution that led to me reading a work of male/male original slash fiction.

It started when an online friend of mine recommended a book to me through Goodreads: Uprooted – a beautifully written, dark fantasy fairytale by Naomi Novik.

My friend I discussed this book extensively via Goodreads as I read it, and when I finished, I suggested we next read the same book simultaneously so we could discuss our reactions to it in real time.

Continue reading