Previously I’ve talked about Black Female Protagonists in Fantasy. They are hardly there, so I write them. I want to inject them into the market to add some diversity and hopefully tell the stories I want to tell. That’s not what I’m talking about today. This is all about black characters in general in fantasy. I read a number of fantasy books. And I hardly see black characters appear. On some rare occasions I see a black character as a walk on or a secondary character. But they are still largely absent from carrying a novel or even being one in a circle of main characters.
I’m not going to say that there are no black authors writing fantasy because that would be a bold faced lie. There have been some fantastic black authors in the past who have written fantasy novels. And there are currently great ones as well. However, there aren’t that many of them. But even with those authors, the number of black characters in fantasy is still low. It’d be great if there were more authors in general willing to inject black characters into their stories, but stories manifest as they should.
The Fantasy World
Many fantasy worlds seem to cherish a medieval or medieval inspired setting. As a result, the rationalization that there wouldn’t be black characters prominent in such a world. It is very true. However, if a derivative world is being created any world structure can be established. The world can be altered to fit the authors needs. Now, I’m not saying preconceived imaginations of a world should be ditched to accommodate for black characters, but it’d be nice to see more characters of color.
Not Just Black Characters
In general this phenomenon doesn’t just plague black characters, but all characters of color. They are few and far between in the landscape of fantasy, despite the abundance of people of color particularly in the US. It’d be nice to experience the world through the eyes of different characters. These characters of color are appearing more and more in other genres, so why not fantasy? Why must I read contemporary fiction to attempt to find a character of color that I relate to. Characters of color are becoming more present, but there is still a long way to go.
Fantasy vs Science Fiction
I’ve noticed that there seems to be more acceptance of other races in science fiction novels. It makes me wonder what the difference is between the genres that leads to less black characters in fantasy than in science fiction. One theory is that world trends seem to indicate that the structure of populations are shifting and the amount of interracial relationships are leading to blurrier lines in society. It might be reasaonable to assume that science fiction writers are looking to what could be a possible future. So, what is stopping a fantasy author from imaging their second world with a different world order. And for those stories set in the present, how likely is it that a character in the city or suburbs would not know and encounter any people of color.
A List of Some Black Fantasy and Science Fiction Authors
George S. Schuyler
Leslie Esdaile Banks as L.A. Banks
Milton J. Davis
Ronald T. Jones
Wendy Raven McNair
Zora Neale Hurston
Wendy Raven McNair
Ronald T. Jones
Do you enjoy characters of color in fantasy novels? Are there any author’s you enjoy that depict characters of color? Do you write characters of color?