September 07, 2006

Pop Quiz!

If my protagonist, while driving a bit crazily—as is her wont—maneuvers around "a slowpoke Latino," is she a racist?

Please advise. Myself, I had trouble keeping a straight face when I was told that the phrase "sounds racist."

I wonder if it would be sexist to introduce a smart blonde female character.

One isn't supposed to notice anyone's physical characteristics, ya know!

Posted by Attila Girl at September 7, 2006 02:54 AM | TrackBack

It doesn't make her a racist it makes her a person, everybody has uncharitable thoughts and attitudes from time to time, that kind of spontaneous detail about them is what fleshes them out and makes them real. It's your story, let it tell you who the characters are and if readers want to bother labeling their behavior, so what? And why would it be sexist to have a smart female blonde? My story has a lovely,brainy blonde woman who could take out a platoon armed only with a comb, and a lovely genius brunette maiden of fourteen,a lovely evil witch and a handsome, vicious, pedophile Count. Because that's who my story's about, let people take it as they may.
(Mind you, all this will change the instant somebody offers me money for it and says, "but lose the blonde".) I expect that, like me, your commenters will want to read your novel, not one written by a committee.

Posted by: colinmacdougall at September 7, 2006 08:30 AM

Change it to a slowpoke in a '64 BelAir low-rider with a "THE ONLY ILLEGALS ON THIS CONTINENT
FROM 1492 TO THE PRESENT DAY" bumper sticker... Problem solved.

Smart blondes go against the stereotype, however misbegotten, so it isn't sexist. Do know that Sharon Stone is going to lobby for the role, though, in the movie version. She has a Mensa tattoo on her ass, you know.

Posted by: Darrell at September 7, 2006 08:39 AM

My point exactly: my stereotype of Latin men is that they drive fast. So if one is a "slowpoke driver" it plays against the stereotype, just as a smart blonde would.

(Actually, my protagonist IS a smart blonde.)

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 7, 2006 10:45 AM

Hmm...around here if I get stuck behind a beat up old pickup truck going 10 mph below the speed limit, almost inevitably it is a middle-aged hispanic male at the wheel.

Posted by: Desert Cat at September 7, 2006 04:21 PM

Wetback would of been racist, Latino is not.

As for Desert Cat's comment if you discribed it as a slow poke latino in a pick up truck with gardening equipment in the back, that could be racist.

Posted by: the Pirate at September 7, 2006 09:04 PM

Well, the origin of the remark was the fact that I've been stuck behind gardeners' trucks. They do drive more slowly, because of the equipment.

It doesn't reflect on Latinos; it reflects on my character's impatience.

I mean, does any literary mention of a nonwhite person constitute racism?

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 7, 2006 09:33 PM

I mean, does any literary mention of a nonwhite person constitute racism?

Pardon my french, but that would be stupid. I mean I don't doubt that amongst some people that is the case. But it is outright stupid.

If a person can't make simple observations without being called a racist, then the term has essentially lost all meaning.

Am I ageist if I observe that slow moving, full-size sedans are most frequently piloted by a member of the gray-haired crowd? Or a Luddite for observing that if an SUV is moving erratically in traffic it is almost inevitably piloted by some dope with a cellphone glued to his/her ear?


I've also noticed that Volvos are quite frequently piloted by guilty white liberals. What does that make me?

Posted by: Desert Cat at September 8, 2006 10:27 PM

A Nationist!

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 9, 2006 03:56 AM

Years back, my eldest daughter's [then] boyfriend had gotten a new car and was taking us for a spin in it. We were cut off by a thoughtless driver and boyfriend muttered

"Stupid Asian driver!"

I looked at him with a bit of shock, "Hisonori! You're Japanese!"

"Puh-leeeeze! You know it's true. Most of us can't drive."

As he called it ... DWA


Posted by: Darleen at September 9, 2006 03:02 PM

Larry Elder likes to talk about how, when he was a waiter in his father's restaurant, he noticed that black females were the worst tippers--followed by black males.

"Sorry!" he exclaims, in a not-very-sorry-sounding tone.

He maintains that the best tippers, overall, were big, hale-and-hearty (sometimes even overweight) white men. "I dunno," he muses. "Maybe they were jolly, or something."

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 9, 2006 06:46 PM

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