top of page

Default whiteness in fantasy worlds

I don't deny that I am vanilla white. My DNA test has wonderbread written all over it. Unfortunately, that means I have the problem where I often will default to whiteness. Not just white but whiteness. I'm writing a new book in a new world and I finished it only to discover that there wasn't a single person in my world that had any colour to him. But I also don't want to add in character who are POC just to be PC. I want people to be there for a reason, to reflect their own culture. Except that this is a different world and the culture is also very white. It would feel too much like cultural appropriation to then slap it on. I'll tell you at the end what my solution was but I wanted to discuss ethnic and racial diversity in writing. Not that I claim to have any authority, after all, I am wonderbread.

Back when colonisation was at it's peak a bunch of rich white old dudes traipsed around the world thinking they were the bees knees and that they had it all figured out. They considered themselves the yard stick to compare everyone else against. This is where the default or status quo idea comes from. Very racist and definitely sprinkled in with white supremacy. So whenever we write stories we often do the same when we create stories. Anyone of colour is often portrayed as not as civilised, as not having their crap together and that a white saviour can come in and show them just how to do it all. That civilisation is having cups of tea while destroying armies with a glance or the wave of a wand. That the bad guys are just bad and there is no remorse in killing them off and everyone lives happily ever after.

So unfortunately, fantasy as a genre in our western culture is inherently racist. There have been plenty of great

authors who are fighting back and this is where you will see movements like magic realism coming from and authors writing books like Babel. These books are often written to be confronting and uncomfortable for us who are wonder bread. And frankly, we need that cognitive dissonance in order to shake us out of the racism that is embedded into our DNA.

But there is work that us wonderbread can do. We can look at our own stories we are writing. First by making sure we are doing justice to other races and interrogate ourselves when we make the mistake I did. Especially with a fantasy world where we don't have to bring the prejudices of this world to. We can have people being accepting of all races. In fact we can throw the idea of race out the window as it is technically a social construct.

And that leads me to how I am going to fix my default whiteness in my book. Everyone is going to be of colour. I'll have to layer in some more culture as I have unfortuately also defaulted the whiteness into the culture. But I'm looking forward to that. But I'm not going to be appropriating culture from people of colour. Instead I'm going to lean on my own indigenous roots. The ones that were trampled on in an attempt to create the default whiteness that was colonialism. Unfortunately, I have lost most of that and my family is distant enough from my Welsh, Irish and Scottish roots that it will be a tricky thing to do. But again I am going to enjoy the challenge.

Shameless plug

Running from a past stained by familial deceit, Hara seeks freedom in the vast expanse of the clouds. Yet, destiny has other plans for her when she stumbles upon a captive shapeshifting dragon named Gideon, ensnared by the revolutionary Rosh Barkers.

Choosing compassion over caution, Hara liberates Gideon, inadvertently commandeering a pirate airship in the process. As they navigate the skies together, Hara finds herself entangled in a web of political intrigue that could plunge empires into war.

In a world where dragons are a part reality, Hara must harness her engineering genius to navigate not only the treacherous skies but also the complexities of unknown allegiances. Gideon, the enigmatic dragon with a past of his own, becomes her ally in a journey that challenges the very fabric of empires.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page