If you follow me on Twitter you are probably aware that I really love Lizzo. I didn’t know about her until her song Good As Hell became somewhat popular, but I’ve loved her ever since–and I’m so glad that she is getting the recognition that she deserves. I think she is creative, funny, fun, smart, beautiful, and makes everyone who listens to her music feel good. She is one of those artists that comes along once in a long time who transcends all barriers.
Recently, I was saddened to read that this was a thing. Because she has been seen as “corny” and “pandering to the white gaze” that she is seen as “less black” than other black artists.
Something I wanted to write about today is about this mentality that people have in our society. I see it a lot in the Writing Community–whether people know that they are pushing these views or not.
We’re often told that we’re not “enough” for the groups to which we belong. There is bisexual erasure, people saying that transgender, queer, asexual, demisexual, aromantic, and other LGBTQ+ are not enough to be included. We are told that people are not “black enough” or that if we are not familiar with all of the customs of our culture that we are not enough to identify with our ethnic and cultural heritage. We are told if we write a certain genre that we are not “real writers.” If you like reading romance that your tastes are “not refined.” The examples of this way of thinking are infinite. People like to imply or outright say that if everything about you doesn’t fit within arbitrary parameters that you cannot belong to a particular group. There is no taking into account of how you were raised, where you were raised…or the fact that a lot of this was beyond your control. It’s not like your parents asked for your input before they just…raised you.
What I want to say here is that you do not need to take a test, pay dues, and join any specific club in order to be exactly who and what you are. You do not need anyone’s permission to be black, white, Asian, Latinx, male, female, funny, corny, happy…you don’t need anyone telling you that being your authentic self is not enough for them. If your authentic self happens to not fit into the parameters other people have set for what it means to be…whatever…then that is not your problem.
The thing I love most about people is when they are authentic to who they are inside, regardless of what is on the outside. I do not need someone to prove to me how black (or anything else) they are. I am just happy to see that they are true to themselves and happy doing so.
How does this relate to my blog since I am supposed to be an author blogging about writing?
Everyone falls on a spectrum in the groups they belong to in life. The same should hold for characters in a book (movie, T.V. show, etc.). Gay people don’t all love RuPaul’s Drag Race and the color pink. We’re not all stereotypes. Not that it isn’t perfectly acceptable to love those things, but don’t think your character isn’t “gay enough” just because they like things that are not stereotypes enforced on gay people.
Be yourself, unabashedly. Write your characters the same way. As long as you are respectful of the cultures of people and make sure to educate yourself on what you are writing about, it is okay. If that is not enough for certain people, take the opportunity to just not care. Because you are good enough. Just as you are. And so are your characters.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,
P.S. Don’t forget to vote on which book should be the debut at my new indie imprint home! You can also still pre-order ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 3: Summer Hearts‘ by clicking on the picture in the right toolbar!