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How to write fic for Black characters: a guide for non-Black fans




  1. Don’t characterize a Black character as sassy or thuggish, especially when the character in question is can be described in literally ten thousand other ways..
  2. Don’t describe Black characters as chocolate, coffee, or any sort of food item.
  3. Don’t highlight the race of Black characters (ie, “the dark man” or “the brown woman”) if you don’t highlight the race of white characters.
  4. Think very carefully about that antebellum slavery or Jim Crow AU fic as a backdrop for your romance.
  5. If you’re not fluent with AAVE, don’t use it to try to look cool or edgy. You look corny as hell.
  6. Don’t use Black characters as a prop for the non-Black characters you’re actually interested in.
  7. Keep “unpopular opinions” about racism, Black Lives Matter, and other issues pertinent to Black folks out the mouths of Black characters. We know what the fuck you’re doing with that and need to stop.
  8. Don’t assume a Black character likes or hates a certain food, music, or piece of pop culture.
  9. You can make a Black character’s race pertinent without doing it like this.
  10. Be extremely careful about insinuating that one or more of a Black character’s physical features are dirty, unclean, or ugly.

Feel free to add more.

Adding more…

  1. Be wary of making Black characters seem animalistic, uncivilized, or subhuman in comparison to white characters. Watch out for: comparing us to monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, apes, and other animals.
  2. Words like Negroid, colored/colured, Negro, and the n-word do not belong in the mouths of contemporary characters you want to portray as sympathetic.
  3. Not all Black people are African American.
  4. Africa is not a country but the second-largest continent on earth with some 54 different countries with thousands of ethnic groups and 1,500 to 3,000 languages and dialects.
  5. Resist the urge to make a Black character seem uneducated and ignorant compared to white characters.
  6. Capitalizing Black shows that you recognize that the word unifying people of African descent, particularly the diaspora, should be described using a proper noun.
  7. Please, say “Black people,” not “blacks.”
  8. Give Black characters the same psychological and moral complexity as white men are given by default.
  9. Make sure that you don’t write a Black character as happily subservient to a white character.
  10. Understand and show that you understand that Black characters don’t exist to be the caretakers of white characters.

And more…

  1. Do your own homework instead of expecting, asking, or demanding Black fans to do it.
  2. Before approaching that Black person you admire so much for being so articulate about race issues (this is sarcasm) to beta read your work: 1) make sure it’s something they’ve expressed interest in doing, and 2) you offer something in return for their time and expertise.
  3. Be prepared for fans to have issues with what you came up with and open to suggestions.
  4. Having only one Black character in a story that takes place in a huge city, country, or galaxy looks weird. Really, really weird. Scary weird.
  5. Don’t use a Black character’s death to motivate a white character.
  6. Portray Black characters with complex and multifaceted identities. We are more than just Black. We are also women, LGBT, Jewish, disabled, neurodivergent, immigrants, etc.
  7. There is a huge chasm between hypersexual and desexualized.
  8. Remember: what’s progressive for a white character is not necessarily progressive for a Black one.

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