I wasn’t going to get into the whole Hunger Games issue that’s hitting the all the blogs but when I read “Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad..” Really! That deflates her quality as a character to pull at your heartstrings. She was twelve-years-old. If the death a twelve-year-old doesn’t make you sad I think you have bigger issues that need to be addressed with someone who works with sociopaths.
Now to my initial warning. In Chrysalis I have black characters.
I know. It’s shocking. Since I don’t come right out and say the race of each character I’m warning you now that some characters in Chrysalis are BLACK. Shocking I know, but it’s true. The web is alive with people that were “shocked” that characters in the movie the Hunger Games were black. My question to them is why? Did you not read the series?
Due to time constraints I haven’t read all of the Hunger Games, I’ll admit that, but I did read most of it or at least far enough in to read that some kids were dark skinned. You take that phrasing in a world where people are so sheltered due to the way their world was broken apart by war and why would they say…this person was African-American. There was a reason that Native American’s called Caucasian people pale faces. They had never seen them before and they used a way to describe them that made since. It seems common place to call some one white, Asian, black, etc, but if you were in a society that for generations had never mixed and the history of your world had been destroyed what would you call someone that looked different then you.
Let me tell you what my son did when he came home from school at age three and said he liked his brown and his white teacher. It took him a few months of being in school to not only learn that his teacher wasn’t brown she was black and that he was too. Although if I were to describe his skin tone I’d probably go with a dark olive color or tanned, but since his father is black he is. According to our society. Not the society that the world had created at the time of The Hunger Games. Look at Othello. He’s simply called the dark Moor, but we all knew that Lawrence Fishburne was the right choice for the part? He wasn’t called black, just dark.
In Chrysalis the first line is “The chocolate colored skin on his clean-shaven head glistened with sweat from football practice.” Spoiler alert! I don’t say Oscar’s black, but chocolate is a universally known product that has a distinct color to it. Lets head back to the Hunger Games, the main characters didn’t know what chocolate was until they went to the city so using it as a way to describe someone’s skin tone wouldn’t be natural.
Back to Chrysalis. Ellie’s best friend, Kelly, is described as having mocha colored skin while her boyfriend, Max, is said to have skin the color of dark honey. Shoot the fact that Rue was described as dark skinned made me think of Nye from The Frozen (by the way …there are black people in that book too). Nye is described as obsidian in shading his skin so dark. But to Katniss who’d never seen a person darker than summer tan little Rue would seem dark. I give the author credit for using phrasing that was appropriate for her characters. If Susanne Collins would have come right out and said Rue and the other tribute from sector eleven were black as opposed to dark skinned with brown eyes she would have compromised her characters and her book.
Just to keep it straight in Chrysalis, Oscar, his father Mr. Jeffreys, Sharyn, Mia, Max and Kelly are all black. And because like every race they have various shades…just take it from the pasty white girl Ellie. They are not described as black people or African Americans (that’s a different soapbox for another time). They are described for the beautiful shades that they are.
I didn’t go into Lenny Kravitz character Cinna because I didn’t have vision of Cinna in my mind anyway and Lenny can walk around naked (and he has…oh music pick) and I’m fine with it. And really the comment that the girl dying wasn’t as sad was more the focus of this blog.
To follow the initial article that set me off click here.
To follow another blog that hits even more to the point on race in fantasy books check out Tricia Drammeh.
And since I brought up Lenny Kravitz…enjoy. I know I will.