Being A Minority In The Geek World
This is a touchy subject, there is no doubt in my mind about that. But it is one that needs to be addressed. Being a minority in the geek world can be rough and a bit discouraging. Ever since I can remember, I have been a geek. I loved Power Rangers, Super hero movies, Star Wars, Dragon Ball Z, Yu Gi Oh, WWF, video games, and so many more things. I believe one of my greatest loves were Superman comics. Unfortunately, I learned quickly that I was not the same as to fellow geeks. On the play ground at elementary schools, children have almost no filter because they simply have not learned about being ‘politically correct’, which actually is not an issue because they often speak the truth. One spring day, friends and I gathered together to play Super Heroes Vs Zombies where we would all pretend to be super heroes and then fight imaginary zombies. I always chose either Superman or Green Lantern and my friends at the time, who were predominantly white, would respond:
“You can’t be him! You are too dark. Superman doesn’t eat tacos or is a janitor.” They forced me to pick a darker character or default to being a zombie. As a kid, who did not have enough money to afford comics, my knowledge of minority super heroes was severely limited to the mainstream. Most often I would play the bad guy and die all the time or be put into jail by my friends. All because of the color of my skin.”
As I got older, I was able to look more into this issue and found that there were characters of darker skin tones in the geek world! Unfortunately, they were terribly written and shoved into the roster just so these comic book companies could say that they were diverse. Most often in comics, minorities were gang members whose sole purpose was to lie, cheat, and steal.
Speaking of which…(I should note that I was one of the biggest Eddie Guerrero fans out there. They gave him a very very racist theme and he ran with it and made the crowd love him while they hated him.) The line ‘You can’t trust me because I am Latin’ is especially rough.
In video games they are notorious for adding colored characters as side characters who have almost no depth at all. It’s a flat “He is the strong guy.” “He is the funny, loud guy.” “He is the uneducated urban youth.” Meanwhile lifeless side characters like R2-D2 or animal companions get so much more of a background story.
Now I can understand that as a writer, you must create the story the way you want. If they attempt to write in characters to please certain groups, the damage can be even worse so many choose not to even go down that route. This is true for novels as well. I am an avid fantasy reader and can hardly recall a minority who was not evil or just on the sidelines. It’s usually very light skin, blue eyed, long, flowing, straight haired heroes. Once again, I understand why they would write them this way, it’s a fantasy setting and typically the setting is European medieval. Fair skin and light colored eyes are common but even when they attempt to write in characters of color, they are still very shallow. The reason is more than likely that a majority of fantasy authors are Caucasian and may not have any experience with many other cultures. They write what they know and the only thing they know is how Caucasians act. Granted, if there were more fantasy authors of various culture, this may be a different story but the way authors even become inspired to write is due to the fantasy novel they read when they are younger and if they see a sea of novels, none of which relate to the reader, then they may just get turned off and move on to other avenues.
In the cosplay world, the community is drowning in light skinned costumers in the mainstream. If you are of a darker skin tone, you get hell for wanting to go to a con as your favorite character, no matter how hard you worked on your costume/work out at the gym. Although this is not the fault of the mainstream cosplayers, and often they even support indie cosplayers trying to break into the mainstream, the fans refuse to accept cosplayers of different skin tones. Nevermind that a majority of Anime characters are Japanese and Caucasian costumers go as them and often get even more praise than the Japanese cosplayers. The only one that comes to mind that is a latina is Ivy Doomkitty and Rosanna Rocha.
We know the problem but what of a solution? How can we get characters of color written well and included more on medias without going as far as creating a channel specifically for those cultures. First off, the road to a better represented roster of geek media starts with supporting works in progress. Those indie bands/film makers/web comics/indie games/writers, find them and love them unconditionally. Even if you have nothing to your name to give them, give them compliments and promote their work, someone who does have the ability to financially assist them may be just around the corner. Or better yet, become those artists who vows to break boundaries and make the content that you want to see in the market. You may think that nothing is going to happen as a result of your actions now but months/years/decades down the line you would be surprised.
In conclusion, we have progressed greatly since the days of old but we are still not there yet. Every day is a fight for the betterment of our community. Even this own blog is looking to gather those writers who wish produce content that main stream blogs won’t touch or even think is worthy mentioning. I ask you, the reader, to make a choice to help us and others like us succeed or at the very least, consider our words on this subject and think upon the world today and what it represents. The best way to support us is to like, comment, subscribe and share the content you like!