This week I’ve been working with various writers and makers on several projects. Here’s some incidents and thoughts:
– I was with some excellent, kind, creative, liberal, educated, beautiful makers. But one equated being tall with being a person of colour. Now don’t explode. I really did understand their example and our profession is one which places huge stock on our appearance, where we’re cast according to what our bodies can portray, but of course I don’t think it’s the same at all.
Height doesn’t lead to the kind of violence of discrimination people of colour experience, unless we are specifically talking about violence against people considered to be “freaks”. Height doesn’t suppose you represent the culture, sexual preferences or ability, and emotional disposition of all people in your height bracket.
I didn’t quite get to articulate my response and I’ve been mulling it over for a few hours. I wonder if they would have said that if I was black or a brown Muslim, where stereotyping is more acutely linked to violent abuse. Again and again, I guess, the stereotypes of yellow folk are seen to be harmless or positive. Yellow folk have got to prove something about being recipients of hate crime or to keep shouting about how we ARE victims. Dude, who really wants to do that?
– Which leads me to think…why, in certain cultures eg the one I’m living in, piss all over the aspirational, the idealists. Why tear down the people who want better lives, who strive to improve, who believe in hope, who sometimes ostentatiously display their achievements because of well earned pride? Yeah, sure their life choices or methods of living may not be to your taste. Are we afraid of our own failure or success? Do we look down on effort because hope is too linked to disappointment? Are we too lazy and thus resentful. Are we snobs? Is our hatred misplaced – isn’t it easier to jeer at someone little who’s trying, than to unpick government level mechanisms or deep rooted societal issues. I get it. Being a certain class (middle, working or upper) or having a particular life outlook doesn’t make you a wanker though. Being a wanker – doing wanky things – makes you a wanker. Why punch down those who are out there striving, making mistakes, living.
– Writers and writers groups. I wonder how or when I will get in touch and ask if you could make some sort of gesture towards having a diverse group of readers. Having actors of colour, the “wrong” gender or sexuality, etc etc read chatacters leads to interesting intersections.
Sometime it really IS painful, shameful, humiliating, hurtful to read scripts out loud, and feel systemic, normative life glare at you, “This world was created without you in mind.” Feeling negated in some way, however small, in a creative process where you’re being asked to be vulnerable, open, and take risks, is hard.
– Walking into a predominantly white room, I don’t think a person of colour particularly wants to be treated with kid gloves, but if we’re also the new person, if our class, immigration status, religion, sexuality, disability intersects with our skin colour, and ESPECIALLY if we’re volunteering our time and skills, please care. Walking into a space isn’t always as easy as it looks.
– People of colour aren’t immune to being racist or privileged or putting their foot in things. I’m aware of when I’m being an idiot or thinking idiotic things. Don’t accept everything made or said by PoC. Ask your questions. With care.
– I was again and had the opportunity to think about it again: How do we get round writing and portraying racial stereotypes if they DO obviously exist as people? If you have more than one yellow person, more than one person of colour, more than one gay person, etc. By writing real people well. By doing proper research into names, syntax, culture. Do not make shit up or conflate cultures. DO NOT INCLUDE A MINORITY IN OUR SHOW ONLY TO OTHER THEM PUBLICLY, REPEATEDLY.
Ask, listen when a person of colour raises queries, DO NOT GET DEFENSIVE OR SHRUG IT OFF, be ready to amend.
And remember IF we ever do seem overly sensitive, remember that people of colour, minorities, the Othered, live in a world where many people want us out of sight, disappeared, dumb, dead. We live with aggression against our very skin, every day.