Unlikely Associations

When I expect flipped chairs and flame wars
I get blindsided by polite responses
I don’t try to start battles
Based on opinions
Yet I become suprised
When olive branches and doves fly around
Perhaps there was more tact than I anticipated
Showing civility despite my own strong opinions or uncomfortable truths
As people actually appreciate my thoughts and facts on various matters

Representation Matters Pt. II: “But why don’t you make your own characters?!”

Here we go, everybody. I’m thankful that there were bloggers who liked the first blog post in my Representation Matters series on the Ospreyshire blog. I wasn’t sure how people would take to my thoughts and personal experiences, but I’m glad there are those willing to read about them.

Let’s get to part 2 of this series.

I mentioned this in passing, but I remember seeing/hearing this quote which I see as a retort for those who have legitimate gripes with either the lack of (positive) representation or racial stereotypes: “Make your own characters!”. Those same people who say that are those who don’t have to deal with being derogated by their complexion en masse, let’s be honest here. It really shows an entitlement which inadvertently proved that study about TV watching in that previous post right if you really think about it.

Oh, I decided to heed those words, but not for the reasons that they would expect.

Some of you know this, but I have written multiple books. I have covered multiple genres and book formats such as novels, novellas, novelettes, and cell phone novels. One of my goals when I started writing the first Revezia book back in 2014 was to come up with multi-ethnic casts. With that particular series, it deconstructs and inverts so many tropes and cliches associated with fantasy, fairy tales, and one might argue a certain “canon” of sorts. The main character of the first book Terminal Rescue is Shamakani. He’s a black prince who leads a search/rescue operation for various healers in the area, is a talented swordsman, and he has a serious attitude even though he can be too serious at times to his detriment (I’m not going to write a Marty Stu character). In that series alone, I have protagonists of all ethnic groups and walks of life and that’s also the same with Hollandus Landing which is the first part of my cell phone novel series (It’s also free if you want. Just saying.). It was exhilarating creating these characters, but even then, I still had to be respectful. I’m thankful to have grown up in a multiracial city and I’ve talked with my friends to see if something was okay or not when it came to writing characters outside of my ethnic persuasion. This may sound cheesy, but I wanted to have that sense of humanity by having dynamic characters who are a certain ethnicity instead of just having their race define them. Trust me, there’s a difference.

Recently, the character I created who really helped increase my self-esteem a bit is Kasamba from Revezia: Sika Uvira Chronicle and the Revezia Electrum trilogy (Sika Uvira Chronicle is also free). Kasamba is a DIY inventor who can create various gadgets. He’s very intelligent, but also self-loathing and underestimates his own genius. Instead of being some muscle-bound freak, he is on the thinner side and uses his smarts and inventions whenever he is in a bad situation. I gave Kasamba some quirks like being really into indie movies while giving internalized snarky commentary on the state of mainstream films in a wink wink nudge nudge kind of way. His name is actually Tshiluba (a Congolese language) for “To Console” because writing him was a consolation to me and he’s able to do so for others in ways he doesn’t realize. After finding out I was of part Congolese descent, I thought I would incorporate that into this character and even his environment. He’s from a modern city on planet Revezia, has lots of decent technology equivalent to what we have on earth currently, and there’s not an ounce of poverty porn in his hometown! Not everything in Africa looks like mud huts, war zones, jungles, or the Pride Lands, GOT IT?! I’ve never even been to the continent and even I know that.

I guess by me creating my own characters, stories, or even art, this was therapy of sorts for me. I felt empowered by making some wonderful characters that I hope others could appreciate. If one person tells me that they really liked this hero or that hero especially if it’s someone like them, then I’d be beyond blessed. I would encourage you to give it a try even if it’s just a short story or drawing your own original characters if you ever felt that way. Mainstream media wasn’t going to placate me, so I have to take things in my own hands through my fiction, music, poetry, etc.

Hope you enjoyed reading this. What are your thoughts on representation? Have you felt like you had trouble relating to so many fictional characters? How do you discuss the concept of positive representation to others?

7000+ Views

This was quite unexpected.

I know I had a bunch of views over the past few days, but what I didn’t realize was all of that added to over 7000 views on my blog. Thank you so much! I was feeling frustrated and sad over this past week, but this made things a bit better. I hope things continue to go well on this blog.

Especially when it comes to upcoming albums…

Representation Matters Pt. I

I thought I would make a multi-part post series about representation. Some of you know that it’s an issue that is dear to my heart. Recently, I’ve been having some revelations from likely and unlikely places when it comes to this particular situation.

Let me tell you a personal story and how things correlated to a study I found out about with a video and a separate site.

I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem even to this day. When I was a child, I have to admit that I watched more TV than I should. Sure, I read a lot which certainly helped, but when I wasn’t in school or reading, I’d check out the TV. I watched a lot of cartoons and live action shows. One thing I wondered was that there weren’t many heroes who looked like me. There were a few token characters here and there, but none were really compelling. They were either the token best friend or comic relief. Some characters that I did find very interesting would only be there were only in a few episodes. One I can remember was Bishop from the X-Men cartoon back in the 90s. He was the first black male superhero I ever saw and I thought he was cool with his time traveling ability while also being legitimately tough. I’m sure I had an action figure of him amongst other heroes of different races. Even though I didn’t have cable until I was in high school when my family moved, I still watched the basic TV shows and I saw the cable stuff when I was at my grandparent’s house or at a friend’s place. As someone who would be considered an ethnic minority in America, it was tough finding positive representation in mainstream media. Sure, I have a white dad, but someone like me is obviously not considered Caucasian and I’m not just talking about my skin tone, but I digress. Some idiots have said online “Why don’t you make your own characters?” years ago. Oh wait, I’m a freaking indie author and I’ve made multiethnic casts in my stories. Just saying.

What really caught my eye was a video I saw that had a slideshow as part of it. The featured image is a screenshot from said video that featured statistics from different ethnic groups of children watching TV. I wasn’t surprised about some of the statistics when it came to the ratios despite not thinking about the numbers or hours. What really floored me was the last stat as shown in the picture: “Children’s self-esteem generally decreases as TV watching increases; except for white boys.” The rationale makes perfect sense especially in Western media. Most protagonists are white males where they are the lead characters, the most desirable, most heroic, and the most idealized characters in the show. This surprisingly applies to villains, too. Even they have agency in their stories and they may have some strengths like being legitimately threatening, powerful, smart, etc. The Joker certainly comes to mind among other examples. This is not meant to shame anyone, but the stats can really speak volumes on how impressionable children can get their values or see their own worth (or not) depending on their race or gender. Here’s a bit more information on that issue: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tv-children-self-esteem-black-white_n_1616957.

Anyways, I will be talking about this sporadically (hopefully once a week) about positive representation in the media. I never realized how much of a psychological effect it had on me and I want to share these findings mixed with my own personal experiences.

The screenshot is property of Jabari Osaze from the video “Seven Little White Lies” on YouTube.

Something completely different…my attempt at cooking!

I thought I would make a post about something different from my usual posts. While I hope you’re not tired of my usual fare, I thought this could be unique.

The thing is I’ve been trying to improve in my culinary skills. I’m no Gordon Ramsey or Gaston Acurio, but I’ve been trying over the past year to cook.

Yesterday, I thought I would do something for dinner. I had some frozen hash browns, but I seasoned them with Zanzibar spices that are fair trade. I had scrambled eggs with avocados, extra sharp cheddar cheese, carrots, and Swahili spices also fairly traded. That gave it more African flair and I felt good making that. It also tasted delicious. See, I do some things outside of avant-garde music, film reviews, and poetry.

It’s fun expanding my horizons.

Disney Double Standards in a nutshell.

For starters, I would like to thank K at the Movies for the term that inspired this mini-rant.

If someone likes Disney movies as an adult that’s okay, but if I tell people I like anime, I get made fun of.

If someone old enough to be my parents or grandparents rocks Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc on a short or jacket, no one says anything. I wear a shirt with Kimba the White Lion, then I’m supposedly weird.

Whenever the creators say or do bad things, they are easily forgiven. When I point out any unfortunate implications in these movies, then I’m over-analyzing or even called a racist or hateful for pointing them out.

Whenever Disney buys out a major company, it’s supposedly star spangled awesome. Any other conglomerate, then they are the evil empire.

Whenever Disney makes a new animated movie, it’s instantly awesome no matter what. When it’s any other company, it’s automatically garbage.

Whenever someone else uses princesses or fairy tales, they get called rip offs, but if you point out that Disney has plagiarized things (see: Kimba or Nadia: Secret of Blue Water), then it’s just coincidence or “everyone rips off something”.

Whenever someone says they hate Don Bluth or Dreamworks, it’s cool. When someone doesn’t like Disney, they are seen as villains!

Whenever Disney gives lip service to nonwhite ethnic groups, it’s progressive. When someone gets racebent, then it’s instantly Armageddon (See: the #NotMyAriel backlash).

Watch any cartoon with lots of anthropomorphic animal characters, and you get called a furry. Watch a Disney movie or cartoon with the same kinds of characters, and supposedly that’s exempt.

When an IP has a bunch of sequels or remakes, and that’s franchise milking. Disney does the same thing (especially their remakes currently), and that’s okay.

When some artist does horrible things, then they get shunned and blacklisted. When a Disney employee does horrible things, then they separate the art from the artist because their childhoods and fandom mean more than justice.

Those are examples I can think of at the moment. Anything of more double standards?

Does me not being a jerk make me docile?

Let me get this straight. I’m not patting myself on the back just because insulting and/or mistreating others isn’t my go-to action to others.

What I’m concerned with is that this side of me could make me come off as docile or passive. This may sound strange because I’ve certainly made some strong opinions here, my other blogs, and in some comments, but I do my best to be respectful even when I disagree with others. With that being said, I feel like I need to be tougher on some people in real life.

After being bullied for a good portion of my life, getting demonized for things I didn’t do, or being made fun of for the things I like (or don’t like…such as not being a Disney fan), I feel that I need to sharpen my wit and call several people out on their behavior. What also sucks is that so many jerks I know are in better places and making more money than me. Does this mean I have to be rude to others to get what I want? I don’t know because it’s hard for me to be rude on purpose to people. It’s very frustrating because I feel like I need to be defensive at all costs. After being lied to for so long about several things, it can be very hard to trust others. I seriously envy those who re natural optimists, but I have no sympathy for those who deny the grim aspects of reality.

Maybe I should be more open to bashing certain things I don’t like for starters? Maybe I should make people feel more uncomfortable when it comes to sensitive issues I have authority to speak on?

[sigh] I really wish I didn’t have all this internalized anger inside or being perceived as docile just because I’m not good with witty comebacks.

Lisa Cabrera tells like it is: A More Diverse America Is Safer Too

[WARNING: Video contains strong language]

I was checking out this news commentary from YouTuber Lisa Cabrera and I just had to share it on my blog. This destroys so many lies in the mainstream media. When New York’s police department didn’t police the black communities as much, crime actually went DOWN!

But wait, mainstream media says black and brown communities do all the crime and need to be locked up or gunned down, right?

WRONG!

This is awesome news and it proves me right how so many of these unjust cases involve escalated situations, fabricated stories, false accusations, and trying to feed into the prison-industrial complex. How is it that most nonwhite prisoners are there for nonviolent offenses like drug possession (assuming if they did it)? This only proves how unjust the American justice system is and how it’s color coded. Would they profile and brutalize the Caucasian communities especially if they’re in affluent areas? I don’t think so. Lisa also brought up great parallels with Black Wall Street and Rosewood with how they were wealthy black neighborhoods that had negligible crime at best.

Seriously, screw bigotry. I want there to be equal justice.

Video courtesy of Lisa Cabrera.