Shapeshifting Black characters (Compilation)
Black person is a Black cat & witch
Hi, I'm writing a story that involves a lot of Scottish folklore and I have a character that is Cat Sìth, which is a witch that can transform into a black cat with a white spot on its chest. I'm designing their human form and am considering making them black, but I'd like to check whether or not this would be okay first, especially since it's from Scottish folklore?
Black people can be Scottish, so yes, it’s okay from that standpoint.
There’s no inherent poor associations with Black people and cats, at least that I know of. I think this is a cool idea! I instantly am picturing them with Black curls with a white streak!
As always, to avoid dehumanization implications, I recommend
Having other non-Black characters with the ability to turn into an animal. And not just other BIPOC in general, but white characters too (Since only POC turning into animals feels dehumanizing).
And/or another Black character (specifically of their identity) who does not turn into an animal.
Dragon shapeshifts into Black woman
Hello! I have this idea for a fantasy story that is all about the romance between a Knight and a shapeshifting Dragon. The Dragon can shapeshift into a human black woman and I worry that this might come off as othering. Most characters in the story will be POC, including the Knight and a lot of other human black women. I really want to write this story, but I also want this to be a diverse fantasy story that isn't about white Europeans. Is there anything I should be careful about?
Please see my Black cat answer above. No unfortunate implications based on what i’m reading. You’ve got other human Black women, so that’s good. It’d be great if there were other shifters of different races and not just BIPOC, but since you have the other human Black women component, it’s okay.
There are dragons in many cultures, but I'll just say be sensitive to that and avoid appropriation and do your research.
P.S. Hit me up when your stories come out; I'd love to read them!
Black animal shifter prefers animal form as her default
I'm writing a Fantasy story that heavily features themes of transformation, and I want to make sure I'm not falling into the fantasy trope of PoC being confined to animal forms. One of my main trio is a young Black woman with this ability, who uses it to perform acts of heroism. At a young age, she was abused to encourage her to use this power to the exclusion of her human body, and has developed an aversion to being human and therefore 'vulnerable'. She can return to human form at will, but chooses not to. She treats her non-human form as her 'default' form, and easily enjoys being that way, scorning the fear of those who see her as a monster. The non-human form does not affect the mind in any way, and while she is very outgoing, outspoken, and a competent fighter, I've made sure her personality is not depicted as 'overly aggressive' or 'animalistic'. I've tried hard, but I know I have massive blindspots. Have I made any glaring mistakes here?
The animal transformation is not a problem in itself, as long as there are other non-Black people who can transform into animals, and preferably not all BIPOC only. The Black woman being more of an “animal by default” does feel dehumanizing to me.
You’ve made your Black woman character more in touch with being an animal than human, afterall. On top of that, she was abused.
Questions to ask yourself:
Trace your logic - why does this character, out of all of them, have this characterization?
Are there other Black characters who are non-transforming humans and/or do not default to animal form? Particularly, Black women characters.
Are there other characters that prefer their animal forms as well? Preferably white ones as well and not just BIPOC?
Would it make sense for the past abuse to have made her feel more comfortable staying in the human form instead? And more aversion to the animal form (in order to separate herself from what she was told / forced into)?
Furthermore - how is her past of abuse addressed in the narrative aside from to explain her feelings towards her animals and human forms? It’s the topic that influences her identity and should handled with respect.
Is her life balanced between acts of heroism and having a life of her own? Is she the only one who uses her powers to save others, thus placing herself in harm's way?
Is she allowed physical and mental weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and shown to be someone worth protecting? Do people care for her and protect her and show it?
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