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How to represent racism without making everyone evil black souls?

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions How to represent racism without making everyone evil black souls?

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  • #45258
    ScarletImmortalized
    @scarletimmortalized

    Hello!

    I am currently editing a co-authored story a friend and I wrote recently. I call it ‘Friend of my Enemy’. It’s a fictional tale of how a German and Jew struggle to remain friends as WW2 separates them. It starts out with them having brief meetings before Kristallnacht, and progresses to the German becoming a prison camp guard, and the Jew becoming a prisoner.

    In the early chapters I deal with Hitler Youth Meetings and the stirring of the Nazi mob at Kristallnacht, but the SA speeches don’t seem to hit just right with me. I want to show the obvious racism and hatred, but I want it to seem real. A speech one might hear today. I want my racism to seem real, without making every character look like an ‘evil black soul’ that any reader could hate. I want controversy, for the reader to ask, “how can this person be so good, yet have such bigotry?”

     

    I hope this makes sense 😂 please drop any helpful advice however big or small.

    Scarlet

    “Scarlet, What are you eating?” ~ “Ghost peppers...” ~ Robin sighed.

    #45268
    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @scarletimmortalized

    That’s a good question and I’m interested in hearing different people’s answers for it so I’m gonna tag along. 🙂

     

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by Evelyn.
    #45273
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    @scarletimmortalized I just finished reading Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, largely about the banality and impersonality of the evil of the Third Reich, and contrasting that impersonality to the practical effects it had on the people who were left after. It’s not directly an answer to your question, but I think it would be worth reading in this regard.

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    #45335
    Ariella Newheart
    @ariella-newheart

    @scarletimmortalized That’s a cool story idea!

    Perhaps emphasize how very dedicated and unquestioningly loyal they are to their cause. It might add potency to the message if readers can evidently see how misguided they are.

    Writer, illustrator, Parimi Alcan

    Check out my new blog! https://arbitraryfairy.wordpress.com/

    #45465
    ScarletImmortalized
    @scarletimmortalized

    @taylorclogston Ah Thank you! I’ll definitely look that book up!


    @ariella-newheart
    Thanks! That helps…I’m usuimg my German’s family to contrast the SS and SA’s brutal racism to regular everyday racism.

    I’ve been exposed to very little racism myself. My uncle is pretty racist against Hispanics, though I’ve never had a relationship with him to respect him. Definitely wouldn’t after all the things he’s said. But he’s distant enough that I can’t get a hold on the feeling of how scary racism can be. I’ve watched/read a bunch of stuff about America and Germany. Another question: What about racism scares you?


    @scribbles
    do you have any helpful advice? 😀

    “Scarlet, What are you eating?” ~ “Ghost peppers...” ~ Robin sighed.

    #45776
    Chelsea R.H.
    @seekjustice

    @scarletimmortalized

    Your question is a few days old now but I wanted to weigh in with my own opinion.

    I write a lot of war fiction, primarily set in WW1. There was a lot of racism around then, so its something I’ve dealt with a lot in my various stories.

    I think the key to making any villain or antagonist relatable is contrasting their evil with their good, as a few people have already said. For example, you could have a character who hates the Jews so passionately that he’s willing to murder them in the streets, but he has a daughter who he would give his life for.

    Or something else you could do is show someone who has a justified hatred of Jews. Not all the Jews were good, innocent people, just as all Nazis weren’t evil. Perhaps they could have been hurt by a Jew in the past and so project  their beliefs about  that person  onto the entire race.

    The thing about racism is that it tends to be irrational. Someone might see all average middle or lower-class Muslims as terrorists, but a Muslim that has a high-paid job and wears a suit they might not see the same way. So your German character could become convinced that all Jews are evil, except his friend…because its his friend. That’d add some nice tension 😉

    And I think the scariest thing about racism is that its deeply engrained in all of us to some extent or another. Its not something we’ll ever get rid of this side of heaven, but I think the problem is that we see Hitler’s racism as wrong, but don’t necessarily see our own micro-aggressions as wrong.

    I don’t know how pertinent this was to your story, but I enjoyed typing it out 🙂

    Mahalo keia huiʻana

    #45875
    ScarletImmortalized
    @scarletimmortalized

    @seekjustice Thanks for those tips! That really helped. Do you have a blog? Because if not you need to start one…

    “Scarlet, What are you eating?” ~ “Ghost peppers...” ~ Robin sighed.

    #45881
    Chelsea R.H.
    @seekjustice

    @scarletimmortalized

    Thank you! I do actually have a blog (and maybe I should post on this topic some time…)

    https://anordinarypen.wordpress.com/ 🙂

    Mahalo keia huiʻana

    #46543
    Rachel Rogers
    @scribbles

    @scarletimmortalized Yikes. That is a meaty question. Hm.

    I don’t know how much this will help, but in my experience, people who are prejudiced against this or that culture/race/ethnicity/religion/etc. (whether intentionally or not) generally have one of two reasons for being so:

    ***side note…when I say “prejudiced against,” I’m talking about acting unkindly or otherwise taking some action against or avoiding people in certain groups, not disagreeing with any viewpoint or belief they may hold***

    1. They are afraid of people who are different from them, particularly ethnically or culturally, because it’s in our nature to be cautious of the unknown…sometimes caution escalates to anxiety or fear. When this happens, it becomes easier to behave defensively (or offensively, in the case of some) against a whole group rather than discern the character of every individual. Especially if someone has been hurt directly or indirectly by a person from a certain group of people.

    2. People assume that if a person is from a different demographic from themselves it means, without exception, that that other person *must* be different from them (which can then turn into the above-described situation, or into just avoiding that group because people tend to assume that differences preclude the possibility of “fitting in” with people not like themselves). However, the truth is that we are *all* way more alike than we’d suspect or probably care to admit. 😛 No matter what our demographic or background, we are made in the image of God and have good traits that we share, and we all fall short of the glory of God and have faults and sins that we share.

    Hopefully something of that is actually helpful…I kind of rambled a little… And I took longer than I meant to to respond…sorry about that! xP

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.

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