Demonizing minorities in literature – a rant

I swear, if receive one more submission with an “evil Native American demon” as the hateful antagonist, I am going to flip. Go postal. Whatever the hell you want to call it. I am going to do it.

Why? Besides the fact that it isn’t creative, overdone, poorly done, and completely unentertaining? Because it’s annoying as hell when a writer can’t think up their own God-forsaken demonic deity, one that readers will fear and hate and can be ultimately destroyed, and so then eventually turns to Native Americans (NA from now on).

**** that.

These submissions would be helpful if I was putting together a “Worlds Worst Collection of Native American Stories” anthology. Since I’m not, they’re just more pieces of paper to wipe the smeared sociopolitical placations off of my Cherokee-Hawaiian ass.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against having a NA as an antagonist, or as an evil deity, as long as it is well researched, plays an integral role in the plot, and can be justified as to why that deity must be used. Hell, we have one excellently written short story coming up in Abaculus 2007 by author Willis Couvillier, and a novel coming out next spring by two southern California writers that has both “good” and “bad” NA’s and NA deities.

So what’s the difference? The simplest one, is knowledge. Both of the above mentioned works have been carefully researched, the authors knew what they were talking about, and were careful on how they executed the story. In the first, there is a soul-stealing deity that wants the “collective” persona of the NA’ to live on, the second has a mixed-breed NA who is a grave robber to his own people, and is eventually overcome by a group of modern day archaeologists and rangers with the help of a time-shifting shaman.

Both stories work, both are justified. Both were accepted by Leucrota Press.

What is not acceptable, is when there is no justification, and there is no plausible reason at all for the demon to be NA other than the fact the writer was lazy. It’s an easy set up – story in the Midwest or the plains, someone gets lost, sheep are stolen, and all of a sudden it’s a NA demon come to destroy the town out of retribution for past grievances. Or, in another submission I received this week (yes, I received nine similar submissions so far this week) that didn’t have any revenge or restitution involved – the demon was just an evil demon for the hell of it, and needed to be destroyed.

It’s a cop out. It’s easy – it’s easy to put the blame or cast an evil eye on something that is already done, or already has bad stigmas. And in this I’m not just talking about NA’s, either; Mexio’s Dia de los Muertos, Hawaiian Ku, the Aztec sacrifices, Egyptian rulers and deities, bigfoot…

…this is not a rant because of my race, nor of the ethnicities of my editors or readers. It is a rant because I am tired of writers who are unable to step back and look at the bigger picture, or able to actually be a writer and come up with something creative and unique. Using another ethnicity’s past, practices, culture, or deities just because “it’s already made” is nothing but a writer being lackadaisical, ignorant, and thoughtless – not only to that particular ethnicity, but to the editors forced to read their crap.

Use a NA, or any other deity, as your antagonist. Go ahead, but do it with class, and ****ing try to come up with your own shit.

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2 Responses

  1. Somebody’s feeling liberal, today.

  2. Just a tad. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for Hillary…

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