What’s the Color of Your Lens?

For the life of me, I can’t recall if I’ve ever touched on the topic of skin color or not on my blog.  All I know is whenever I come across things like this, I realize there are some people in some serious need of sensitivity training or just good home training.  Hell, I’ll just settle for manners.

First, I have not read The Hunger Games and don’t know if/when I will.  I’m really not into dystopian, but could be persuaded if the story is good enough and I’m in the right mood.  Nonetheless, I applaud Suzanne Collins for seeing the world through more than just one-skin-tone glasses.  There should be more books that support a mixed cast of characters, rather than the single one the author sees in their mirror.  To me, it’s one of the easiest ways to add some believability to a story.  And if all else fails, you can always have a token black like Hollywood does and kill them off midway through the story.  Not!  😡

In the case of the commentors who commented on Cinna, we African-Americans can have a “calm temper and quiet personality” believe it or not.  In fact, I can give you a couple of names, if you want them.  We are also “flamboyant” when we want to be.  I can name a couple of friends that fit that profile, too.  Since when does being “sweet and loving” only apply to white people?  If that’s the case, then you should meet my Chinese friend Min who more than fits that bill.  The same goes for my friend Diane who happens to be black.  I’m guessing you’ve never met my friend Munerah (from Yemen) either.  Those are just a few comments that really prick my brown skin.  Talk about being insensitive.  Too bad we’re not as willy-nilly with our opinions when it comes to talking about someone who’s disabled or has Down’s Syndrome.  A simple, “I didn’t know Cinna was black” would have sufficed, due to the lack of a better description around Cinna. Better yet, taking a moment to think before posting a derogatory comment like those seen on Facebook would’ve been better.

The part that really kills me is Suzanne Collins specifically described Rue as “She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.”  Dark.  Brown.  Skin.  And yet, people seemed shocked about the DARK BROWN SKINNED girl chosen in the poster.  Was something missed in the translation?  Should the description have been in ebonics or gangsta-speak to make sure everyone understood?  I sure hope not.

Your thoughts?  Sadly, I still think we have a long way to go when it comes to race relations.  For my daughter’s biracial sake, I hope we resolve these ridiculous issues in her life time, if not mine.

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11 thoughts on “What’s the Color of Your Lens?

  1. I spend a lot of time thinking about these kinds of things. I think I have a different perspective because of experiencing being lesser in society on several levels. Maybe that makes me more open to all struggles, for which I am also grateful, because it means I have a very diverse group of friends and want to reflect those people in my fiction. Honestly? This might sound funny but I don’t even think it’s that difficult to do. You listen and you absorb and you don’t make it all about you, and you do your level best to show people in all kinds of roles, with all kinds of skin tones, and genders and so on. It’s not about sanitizing fiction and making it a perfect rose colored glasses world, it’s about reflecting a reality that isn’t a big blur of whiteness. But then I run in to people who can’t even seem to conceptualize unfairness or circumstance and I don’t even know how to begin with them.

    • Tiger, I agree 100%. When it comes to those people who can’t “conceptualize unfairness or circumstance” I leave them alone to figure it out, especially after I’ve said all I think of to say. At some point, you have to just move on and hope they learn, preferably not the hard way.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly. I was delighted when I saw Rue…and seeing how cute she was, know I will ball in the theater like a little kid. I’ll admit Cinna surprised me. I wasn’t expecting Lenny Kravitz. But when I saw the poster and the trailer, I was so happy. i think he’s going to make a great Cinna.

    • Given Cinna’s description, it’s not surprising that so many people were taken aback. But it was the hatred that followed that made me wonder what kind of home training these people got. When it comes down to it, I’m more concerned with whether or not he can pull off the part, which should’ve been the focus of the conversation. I’m hoping he does so doggone well that it’ll feel like spit in the eye to the naysayers.

  3. I have to admit, I do like reading about diverse characters. And I wish the characters were more reflective of the real world. I work with AA, White, Middle Eastern, Chinese, African and others.

    I’m a mutt myself. Wish it didn’t matter. (sigh)

    • It shouldn’t matter. It’s taken a long time for me to see people as people due to my grandmother’s influences of growing up during the Jim Crow era. And believe it or not, she’s grown in that regard, too, which is more than I can say for the commentors on that blog.

      Oh, and stop refering to yourself as a mutt, girlfriend. You are no four-legged animal that begs for the master’s scraps. Stand up no two legs and be proud. 😀

  4. I have read all 3 books and you would enjoy them–trust me. 😉 I would have liked to see more Rue…but…

    And Cinna did shock me but in a good way. Cool. Glad to see it. I love Lenny Kravitz.

    Unfortunately, no matter how long we live, Marcia, people will always find a reason to hate each other, even if we were all the same color. I’ve always said that. It’s passed from generation to generation. Sadly, it’s the way of man. 😦 SMH

    • I’m thinking about getting book one, now that they’ve chosen NC as the filming grounds for the movie. 😉

      Sadly, you’re right. Even if we get over the color boundries, there will always be another to take its place. I’m betting the next one will be centered around the classes.

  5. I enjoy the diversity. Rue and Cinna were two of my favorite characters, too. I like stories that reflect the world as we know it, even if it has super-killer wasps in it, so yes, I appreciated the diversity. And about people’s reactions… I’m not surprise. I wish I was…

    Know what else? Katniss reminded me sooo much of Phaedra.

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