Black Royal Family, deaths and survivals
Hi! I’m writing a fantasy series with the primary cast of characters being POC. This particular submission is in regards to the Black characters. The series’ main driving conflict is colonization from a Catholic coded religious organization, and the royal family (the current generation of which is all Black) was converted a couple generations back. The primary catalyst event of the series is a coup overthrowing the queen and king following a religious crusade. I’ve been looking over this blog after seeing it recommended for sensitively writing characters of color as a white author and one thing I’m afraid of falling into in the beginning of the series is the abused Black people trope/Black one dies first trope.
For the first third of the first book in what I plan to make a trilogy, it appears that the oldest child, the son and heir, (aged 18) is the sole survivor of this coup. However, it is then revealed that the princess, his younger sister, (aged 17) survived as well, physically unscathed, and emotionally recovered for the most part. They were both taken in by lowborn people who had suffered at the hands of the church, (the prince’s group’s ages are 20, 22, 19, and 19, princess taken in by one man who is 20) which was heavily supported by their parents. The two siblings don’t reunite until the end of the first book, and the loss of their parents and the attempts on their lives during that coup are the only real violence they face throughout the series. The queen and king being overthrown and dying is intrinsic to the plot of the series (it’s the catalyst for everything else that happens). Their children regain power in the second book after they are reunited with their aunt, and the only real suffering they experience following the coup is emotional (pining for the lowborn romantic partners they fell for during the first book). I don’t plan on going into much detail about the coup (it’s told from the perspective of the prince who is out in the town incognito when it happens, so he’s away from the action). I want to be able to write these characters and events respectfully and in a way that isn’t triggering to Black readers. Any recommendations for that?
Hi! Focusing on your Black characters and not other plot aspects of the story:
This does not read as highly violent or full of suffering for your Black characters. They experience hardship, but it does not feel exploitative and has minimal physical impacts. It’s definitely unfortunate that the Black parents die, but 1) you do have prominent Black men and women 2) their deaths are highly plot relevant and are a catalyst for all the events to come. I’d say carry on with this story, sounds like you’re on the right track and doing an excellent job.
If other Black readers have anything to add or that this writer should keep in mind, please chime in.
Screenprint in shades of black, circa 1967, presumably from the edition of 100, on wove paper, framed
456 by 456 mm 18 by 18 in
Black Scientist Self-Sacrifices and Comes Back to Life, Experiences Racism, Bad Relationships
Hello, thank you for your time reading and helping me with this. I am currently writing a novel featuring a main character who is a Black man. I am a white woman, and while I did a great deal of research, I want to make sure that I am not using any negative tropes or propagating any harmful stereotypes.
My main character is a mycologist with the power of mushroom manipulation and, later on in the story, functional immortality based on the condition of a book. He received a PHD from the University of Chicago in the late 1960s. (the story takes place in 1971). After being denied tenure due to his race, he takes a job fighting monsters in a national park. (it had a really high salary) He is a highly empathetic, rational, person who spends most of the story trying to make sure everyone stays focused on the mission at hand. His greatest character flaw would be his tendency to see the best in people to a point that it borders on naivete. Throughout the course of the story he slowly grapples with this flaw and eventually has to come to terms with his new boss, his old mentor, and his girlfriend manipulating him.
He eventually saves the park using the power of loopholes in a demonic contract. The way he exploits it however, is by killing himself. (The demon’s power was contingent on him staying alive) His body reforms and he comes back a few days later due to his functional immortality.
A additional potential problem is that one of the side characters, a doppelganger that usually presents themselves as a white man, is the one who performed the ritual giving the MC immortality. Additionally, this character spent a great deal of time lecturing MC into learning how to prevent mind control (a detail that is relevant to the plot) and not to trust the other characters. However, this character has shown themselves to be decidedly untrustworthy. Is this an example of the white savior trope?
Sacrificial Black man
This is an interesting concept. Regarding the Black man MC killing himself to kill the demon and save the park: Does he know about his immortality? If so, I don’t see it as explicitly sacrificial or devaluing Black life. I’m seeing some Christian / Jesus connections (not sure if intentional) though. If he undergoes torture or pain in killing himself, that feels a bit more iffy, but also not as explicitly problematic if he knows that he’s returning.
If he does believe his death is final upon the self-sacrifice:
Please ensure he (and/or his allies) explored all other possibilities before deciding to kill him.
For example, was there no way to entrap the monster or an attempt before it was decided to sacrifice the Black man?
Why was the curse connected to his life or death in particular?
Based on the character’s personality of high empathy and rationality, perhaps the sacrifice goes hand in hand with his nature. Still, his life should hold value.
Who mourns him?
Or, if knowing he’ll return, helps to lessen the burden of things or cares for affairs in his absence?
What do others do to contribute to saving the park, or is it all on the Sacrificial / Magical Negro to save the day?
If you want to reduce some less than stellar aspects of this, it should not all be on him. If it is, then you’ll want to explore those problematic aspects in the story and how racism likely contributes to others devaluing him and taking advantage.
So, a white person (or presenting, as they can appear as others it seems?) gave the Black MC his immortality powers and offers advice that will protect his mind. This doesn’t feel like a white savior to me. Not on its own, at least. Giving him powers isn’t directly saving him (although, perhaps it does eventually) White people helping and mentoring BIPOC doesn’t make them a savior. I’d need more specific details to say if I thought it went into that territory. Perhaps their reasoning might change things. For now, I'd say look into the definition of a white savior and see if they apply to your character.
look for the name: FRANCIELE
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