Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
My Blog

My Own Biases

Jeremiah 17:9 (New International Version) says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure; who can understand it?"
     Now that I have completed the first three novels in the Shu Factor series, I am seeking an agent to represent me. Also, my mind is returning to the next book I want to write: The Day America Turned Black.
     I wrote 12,000 words of this book in 2014, and then realized I was leaving The Shu Factor unfinished -- yet another unfinished project. So I finished drafting the Shu Factor. Now I will draft The Day America Turned Black.
     Since 2014, I have become the recording secretary for my local civic association (Ingraham Estates Civic Association). Because the Village of Hempstead is largely nonwhite, my closest associations are with nonwhite people. This close-up view of people who are simply people of a different skin color has changed my inward script about nonwhite people and I didn't even see it coming.
     In fact, the change was not visible to me until a few weeks ago, when I re-read my 12,000 words. I realized that one of my central black characters exactly reproduced a widely held stereotype: the young black fat single mother. My character is a good person and all that, but she so exactly fits the stereotype that I am appalled.
     Why did I choose such a character? I am not sure: I think that writers who want to combat rejection will choose the most rejected type possible, and try to show the world that its view of that character is inaccurate.
     But the reality is, there aren't that many fat black young single mothers. I'm not saying they don't exist; white and Hispanic ones do, too. I'm saying that this stereotype is not typical of young black women. 
     The process within me of characterizing groups seems to embed a component of focusing on a person who is societally objectionable -- and a corpulent young single mother is objectionable in every society -- and then color that character. Why? Why did I do that?
     Sometimes I really don't like myself.

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