After my hiatuses, I’ve managed to merengue back into my writing community groove. I’ve resocialized, I’ve respiritualaized, I’ve reorganized the ethereal cabinets in my brain, so I can actually participate in the things I love again.
With that, I recently celebrated an incredible birthday, and I realized that I had such a great time because I chose to be active in vocalizing that I wanted to enjoy myself. Luckily, I’m surrounded by amazing people who made sure that I would smile and glow for the day because they also made it clear that they wanted me to be happy. I was spoiled with so much love, and I am eternally grateful for the people in my life.
Though, with this resurgence, I have become more adventurous. Or… bold enough to read the comments posted on my Wattpad chapters again.
I have a few questions:
- What is a “normal eye color”?
- What is a normal name?
- What is “normal?”
These questions tend to pop up when you make efforts to include diversity or (non-White American) characters in your stories. I’ve had to ask myself these questions, with some recent comments, and I’d like to vocalize my thoughts about this. 🙂
Let’s start with eye color. I have brown eyes, millions of others have brown eyes. And… I love brown eyes. Just because I am Black and write a story that includes characters that have something far from brown eyes doesn’t mean I hate brown. We make certain details important for a reason, if it doesn’t seem to serve the purpose of the story at all, then the questioning make more sense.
Next, is that normal name thing. My name… isn’t considered normal. “Mayen” isn’t normal to a good portion of the world. In fact, my first and last name together is immediately deemed “foreign”. Not a problem. I’m a child if immigrants, in America, and my name is beautiful. #notSorry The only time I am low-key annoyed with my name is when fake IRS agents call and try to trick me into giving money I don’t owe the government. They target people with “not normal” names on purpose, and emphasize this point by sometimes introducing themselves with a “normal” or more “American-friendly” name with the heaviest non-American accent.
Wait, a “non-American accent”? Mhm. Unfortunately, I have to phrase it like that because a large populations of Americans– and others– tend to forget that America was literally founded by foreigners… let alone built on the backs of them.
This leads into, “What is normal?”
According to many, this could be defined by saying that it is something that is familiar to them.
You know what else is normal? Ignorance.
Someone writes about an interracial couple, where one is not White American, and it’s a problem that their children don’t have American or what they called “normal” names?
Let me pose the question: Is “normal” supposed to be a synonym for “easy” or “simple”?
I, like many others, have never been as simple as the world wants me to be. We’re stripped of the pieces of humanity that are linked to our cultures, and it’s always been a problem to the majority that we accept who we are. When I learned to accept myself, I learned to accept others around me. Thus, I learned to appreciate and love the variety of colors/colours that we all come in.
Without shame, I can write about characters with different eye colors and skin tones and backgrounds because we exist this way. We humans are unique creatures, and we are built to fight against many battles internally and externally.
So, if you come across something that doesn’t seem familiar to you, do your best to fight against your desire to constantly reduce and regress it into a concept that makes you feel more comfortable.
Everyone deserves to be under the spotlight– to be represented in a way that doesn’t wash away the pieces that matter the most to them. Diversity in media, and especially writing, is changing, and damn does it feel good to see and read about more characters that look like you and act like you. Of course, we should always work on believing in ourselves and loving who we are, but we can’t pretend that it doesn’t help to see yourself represented in public.
When we shamelessly are proud of ourselves and our accomplishments– you give the people around you the permission to do the same.
I won’t apologize for creating a character with a name you can’t normally pronounce.