Tropes we need: Black people who are into Science Fiction

Recently I heard a TikToke that really made me … frustrated.

It was about a Black woman recounting when she talked about her parents to a white friend. She talked about how they were rediscovering roots as much as they could, I can’t remember what organization it was but it was obviously a Black one. And then she mentioned how her mom was a Trekkie like she won a Ms.Klingon pageant and the other was a Star Wars fan.

And of course, the obvious question is, how do these people exist in the same house with having totally opposite views on sci-fi. But no, it wasn’t that.

Her response was she didn’t realize that the girl’s parents were white.*

Everything she said about her tracing her roots was instantly thrown out as soon as she mentioned DND and StarTrek.

But

If we are being honest we don’t really talk about Black people beign into sci-fi you certainly don’t see them being portrayed in shows. Lucas from Stranger Things is the only Black kid I’ve ever seen in a show doing something in relationship to sci-fi or fantasy.

One kid.

And when I was growing up I saw nothing, but I had me. So although I didn’t see any Black people into sci-fi, I was one. I grew up watching StarTrek: TOS, Lost in Space, Quantum Leap, Stargate, Firefly, and so many others. If it was in space, had robots from the future(Sarah Conner Chronicles, I’m looking at you), or dealt with any type of aliens, I was all over it. So if I exist, as a Black sci-fi fan, there’s no reason for me to doubt the existence of other Black sci-fi fans. But what about Black people who aren’t into sci-fi? What’s their relationship to Black people who are into it?

So let’s make stories together.

This first one will be a regular romance scenario, with a man pursuing a woman. She’s really into sci-fi. She goes to conventions, owns every episode of Dr.Who, watches Discovery to lift her spirits up whenever she’s sad. He learns about sci-fi, and also about the many Black people that navigate that space. The longer he dates her, the more interested in sci-fi he gets.

Or

We have a story about a girl who isn’t into sci-fi but finds a show from the nineties/two-thousands and starts watching it, but she can’t find the rest of the show. She goes to Reddit forums and makes loads of friends during her search. Only to find out the tragic fate that happened to most sci-fi shows on public television.

Cancellation.

The show is about her growth in sci-fi especially concerning her and Blackness. And her evolving over time into a sci-fi fan.

Or

We have a Black person in a show about a group of Black friends whose into sci-fi and we make it normal. The Star Trek, the Stargate, the Dr.Who references, are integrated into this character’s model, so much so that their friends know sci-fi facts just because of proximity. Maybe we do have an episode where someone tries to define their Blackness and then a strong moment of our Black cast coming together to point out that this person is not the authority on Blackness. And our friends will have a heart-to-heart conversation on concepts like oreo and how it affected their perceptions of Blackness as a child and as an adult.

End Scene.

*I would have a link to the original video, but I can’t find it. And I looked, if you know the creator, you can post it in the comments.

Tropes we need: Well loved marshmallow dark skinned female characters

In recent shows, brown to dark-skinned female characters are placed into certain roles. Often as the “tough” character, the one who protects the main character or teacher them something. Or maybe she’s just the sassy Black woman. They are often not seen as feminine or soft. To the point where just them existing to some is them showing masculine energy. And if they are tall there’s almost no chance of them being considered feminine, regardless of behavior. They are also often made to be undesirable regardless of whether they are seen as feminine or masculine. Dark-skinned women are OFTEN not seen as feminine or desirable and so as Black people who make media, who better than us to change this.

I don’t want just SOFT dark-skinned female characters, no, we have to go deeper. Deeper! I want them to be marshmallows. Soft dark-skinned women who don’t have to lift a finger. Who don’t fight battles and aren’t the strong character in a story. Who are babied, cry easily, and are comforted constantly. I want them to have husbands who don’t want to or let them lift a finger. Who make it their job, to ensure their wife is happy. I want strong personalities without having to be the “STRONG Black woman. I want a character who twists her leg, cries and doesn’t stop crying until she’s comforted and feels better about it. “And still has to be carried back home, just in case, because what if she hurts it again. Who dressily cutely, and knows her worth. To be fair she could be single. If so she is I wanted by every guy in a 1,000-mile radius wanting her and all the women around wanting to be her friend. I want her hand kissed, I want men falling over themselves. I want her to be the biggest baby, and I want a story, that starts with her being like that and ending that way. She doesn’t need a lesson, she needs to keep on being soft. She is on an ebony pedestal that we aren’t going to take her off of. With her getting whatever she wants. She must be unapologetically girly. I want her to find a place where she can continue on that way or find a man that will continue spoiling her.

What does she bring to the table?

What????

Marshmallow is only one part of her personality. We could make her a genius or dumb. The daughter of a king or the daughter of a poor farmer.Whatever we want. Or maybe she has nothing to bring but JOY. How about that. Let’s see Black fantasy go:

Our marshmallow character is poor, works as a maid. She isn’t good at it at all, she’s too clumsy, but the owner can’t fire her because she’s angelic. She meets a cruel sad king. Her softness breaks down his cold heart. Making him feel a warmth that he’s never known. Just by watching how selfless and caring she is, she inspires him to be better. My soft characters are not “magical negreos”(it’s a trope that I hate), and as such can’t do any work to make other characters better. Those tropes are tired, but I think inspiring is ok. Seeing how much better received he is as a king after showing empathy. He realizes he needs her, and they get married, and she becomes queen. With her having nothing to her name but clumsiness, tears, and a happy disposition.

And that’s enough. Everything doesn’t have to be that deep.

The end.

If we are doing realism, here’s how I would do it. In a modern show, I would have her be the main character of a romance. I would have a Black guy meet her and be utterly blown away. He’s not used to a Black woman like her, but he’s intrigued. She likes horseback riding and loves the renaissance festival and cottage core. And he doesn’t know how to do it but likes her. But he’s worried he’s not sure if he’s up to her standard. Hijinks ensue(I can’t give you everything, use your imagination).

Tropes we need: Black interethnic couples

Maybe I’m coining this, but by Black interethnic relationships, I mean people who are dating that may be the same “race” but different ethnicities or even tribal groups.

There are Nollywood movies on this subject, where people from different tribes meet and marry, but here in the States, we have very few stories about this.

In many stories, we’ll have an African American character and Jaimacan character dating or married the end. We never talk about the differences of those two cultures, we pretend that Blackness and we pretend as if Blackness is a monolith when it’s not.

 Everything’s good, their both Black, right?

You don’t see stories about an African American man meeting a Kenyan woman and then falling in love and the cultural differences that come with that. The stereotypes both West Africans and African Americans have about each other, the bullying by some Black children to 1st generation African children. The trauma that gives that lives on with some people as they grow up, about just being from somewhere else. And African Americans who didn’t grow up around anyone of immediate African descent, learning about the “African booty scratcher” taunts, and feeling ashamed, even though they weren’t involved. There are so many storylines to draw into a romance.

I need stories where a Caribbean woman falls for a man from a West African man. Or a Black Brazilian woman meets a man from Harlem and about their love story. Their language difference, their cultural differences.

There are many stories about interracial couples. 

But there are a lot of stories that we are just ignoring because we want to pretend that Black is Black regardless of culture, continent, and religion.

We are different, and that is ok.

For example, let’s have a Xhosa woman. She is working on her doctorate in the U.S., and she meets a man from Atlanta who works I.T. at her university. They meet at a party and they have a lot of mutual friends. She didn’t know much about Black American culture aside from what she sees on social media, and all he knows about South Africa is apartheid. They teach each other. He’s southern, his family loves greens and ox tales (there aren’t many African American families who cook them, but they exist, my family is one). She teaches him about umphokoqo and Inyama yenkomo, and how things were as she grew up. And they bond over stories of their lives. She sadly realizes what his grandparents and parents went through is eerily similar to her childhood and the life of her parents. She never imagined anyone outside of those back home would be able to relate. He grew up thinking Black is Black but loves how proud she is of who she is, and those differences make him love her more. And it makes him embrace what he is more than he ever had before.

Their parents grew up with negative stereotypes of the other, so they object. The story is just about our couple but two cultures exploring and coming together.

As a person who is in one of these relationships, I look for media that tells my story. But I can’t find anything.

Tropes we need: Black interracial characters

Interracial adoption is when a person is adopted by someone of a different culture than their own.That’s how you get Black interracial characters

Recently after watching Colin in Black in White and watching a LOT of TikToks from Black transracial adoptees(also Asian transracial adoptees). I’ve realized it’s a character we need to go over, and experiences that we need to share. Because the reality is these people exist and tend to have very unique struggles. This is new and as things change new tropes should be created to reach everyone.

Imagine going through microaggressions your whole life, but not having a family that explained that to you. Realizing how different you are from your siblings, although you’re all supposed to be the same. Your parents “don’t see color”, but you can’t put your finger on why people seem to treat you differently.

Hear me out this wouldn’t be that hard to do.

How?

Easy.

I think a romantic story would do this best. You have a guy raised in suburbia. He grew up in a loving home with parents and siblings. He just doesn’t know anything about his own culture. And he meets this woman, who makes him question himself and everything he thought he knew about himself. She’s very into her culture, and she’s teachers African American history.

All the microaggressions he had experienced and bottled up, are unleashed as he battles with the truth of his life. His denial of how people treat him starts to fade. He learns how to take care of his hair; he even grows it out. She introduces him to her family and friends, and he falls in love with her. Her family loves him, his family has a hard time at first accepting a new healthier him. After calling out a few microaggressions and biases they have, both sides come together for their wedding.

Tropes we need: Tall dark skin guy who is introverted, shy, and quiet

This is what I want.

Tall black male characters who are not hyper-masculine or athletic. A tall quiet dark skinned-guy who would much rather read a book than go to a club. I know some men, might find this soft. But I don’t care.

I want to start with darker-skinned tall men first because they are the ones who are the most tightly choked by tropes. You normally get an athletic popular tall handsome black guy, a guy in the streets, or the dark-skinned villain who beats on women.

That’s the norm.

I want Black introverted men to get a view of themselves being the main character as well. It’s almost as if we don’t believe Black men can be introverts; in media, we make them extroverts or socially awkward. And that’s not realistic. I can’t blame this on stereotypes but on our cultures. I’ve seen people tell introverted men to stop being introverted.

BUT OF COURSE, it doesn’t work.

So he can be the main character, which would be new, or even a side character.

We can have our main character pretending all of his life to be extroverted and when he grows up he throws off the mask because it’s exhausting. And of course, family and friends start to complain. He’s no longer the life of the party he had been pretending to be. Then over time, he makes friends with people who are willing to accept him just as he is. It ends with him laying back in his house, enjoying the silence.

or

We have a regular Black friend group movie, and we have one of our characters be this trope. And we don’t point it out directly. We make it normal because being an introvert is normal. He talks when he feels it necessary to. And we follow all of them in their dating experiences. Maybe he might get a girlfriend who thinks he’s cheating, but he’s actually just taking time to recharge. He can’t prove it to her, but we, the audience, see him put on headphones and just listen to music, as we see his phone going off with her calling. Which he doesn’t see.

You have to make it dramatic.

There’s no one way to do this right, but it does need to be done.

My adventures in writing a book : Part 1: my mind is weird

So yes, I’m writing a book.

The hard part isn’t what you think it is. The hardest part is that the book is continuously running in my head like an unclosed tab on chrome. Along with like five to ten other books I haven’t started writing.

Although I’ve only written like 5-7 chapters. I’ve written about 10,000 words in, and my mind is literally at the end of the story. Not the true ending but the place right before it because I haven’t figured out how to get to the ending. You’re probably thinking, I should outline my story.

BUT I FREE WRITE.

So I’m stuck. I probably will be forced to make a skeleton timeline to help me write my story. Currently, I’m making character-charts, and a mini-dictionary of the terminology I will be using. Why a mini-dictionary, it’s a vibrant magical world that I’m creating, and I have a bad memory. For example, knights in my world hold different ranks, and rather than using anything existing. I’ve created a new system with multiple branches and rankings, each fun and unique to the service you offer the king.

Tropes we need: The confident short Black man who isn’t funny

Hollywood doesn’t like short men. If you don’t believe me, look up Tom Cruise and boxes. If an actor is popular, they’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that the actor looks the same height as the other men. God forbid people ever learn that there are men shorter than 5′ 10″.

In Black media, it is normally communicated via jokes. The character bears the brunt of a barrage of short jokes or he is a comedian. It’s almost as if we can’t have a short male character without having one “little man” joke in there somewhere. Or at least one woman turning him down, because who could possibly want a short man?

I propose we have a movie with a short Black man in it and (wait for it), and we don’t make his character about his height. We don’t even mention it, I know it sounds crazy, but I think we can do it. And if we do reference it make it just a regular thing. Not a big aha, he is so SHORT, but we play it as being normal. Because it is.

We make him a confident and serious character. In fact, how about we already have in a relationship from jump. With a beautiful woman, and he has the ideal marriage. His friends’ joke that he doesn’t get dating because he’s been married so long. But as our other leads date, he gives good honest dating advice. As we get to see the world through our character’s eyes.

OR

We make this man the lead in a fantasy movie. And we treat it just like a regular fantasy epic. Maybe a villain might laugh once before it’s defeated. But he ends up saving the world.

Or

We make him the handsome romantic lead. He is working at a Tech conglomerate (he’s rich), and he’s a rising star in the company. We’ll do the stereotypical K-Drama thing where he meets our lead woman and they hate each other. But as they keep meeting through happenstance circumstances they slowly fall in love. We could even do the stereotypical thing of him being a jerk with a backstory but grows over time.

To be fair, I just want regular stories with Black short men who aren’t comedians. Because it’s almost as if we’ve set a standard if you are a short man, you are only worthy of being on screen if you’re funny.

Everyone deserves to see themselves on screen.

Tropes we need : The Soft Black Girl

Many stories contain the Strong Black Woman trope. Whether she’s the main character or not. She is a strong, independent, and sassy Black woman who “don’t need no man”. Sometimes she is a strong character from the beginning. But sometimes, she starts off as a weaker-willed woman who becomes strong through some turn of events. Generally, after dealing with a man (who is horrible) she becomes, the strong, independent Black woman she was meant to be. Her reward for becoming stronger is often a good man. Even Black little girls in stories must be warriors, fight, and start revolutions. If she isn’t the main character, she’s the “Sassy Best Friend/the black best friend” trope. Using her strength to support the lead character. Even in stories written and directed by US, being a strong Black woman isn’t just what we are. But what we are expected to be, what we must be.

BUT

I want stories where black women are allowed to be soft. I would love stories that don’t expect Black women to fight and don’t ask them to.
Black women who expect to be protected, and are protected. Black female characters who don’t teach the main character a life lesson. Maybe we could be the ones who learn a lesson, sometimes, instead of always having to be the teacher. Or us being hurt or dying to help someone else grow.

How about stories in which we are fought over. In which a Black woman isn’t fighting for a man, but is solely being fought for by men.

For example: How about a story in which the main female character is a Black princess whose kidnapped. The whole story is just about rescuing this lovable soft princess who would never hurt a flea. Her whole kingdom weeps for her, and our hero must get our sweet princess back.

Or a delicate girl who only wears dresses and loves pink and french manicures. She oozes femininity and is kidnapped by the mob because they think she is someone else, and our main lead, our nerdy Black main character, must rescue her.

We need more dainty Black heroes and villains. What about a villain whose utterly feminine and uses her magic to get men to fight in her stead, and then our hero falls in love with her.

What’s crazy.

The fact that many people would just laugh at the descriptions I’ve just made. In their eyes, they can’t see an overly feminine Black female character as being realistic. Why, well, in the States we’ve never really been allowed to be soft. Black women have been forced to be hard and work since the moment we arrived on this continent, for survival.

It’s hard to be soft in a world trying its best to push you down. It’s hard to be cute and delicate in a society that doesn’t see you that way. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be.

As I look around, I’m noticing more and more Black women embracing softer styles. More Black women embracing things such as princess and cottage core, as well as other feminine styles. As an author, I am purposely writing these characters into my stories because we need these tropes.

Just like we need to see strong Black women, we need to see soft, Black female characters whose arc doesn’t make them hard but allows them to be delicate the whole story.

We can be and are soft. Even when the world seeks to firm us up. I need Black women and little girls to know that you can go through things, and still be soft and gentle soul after.

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