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Writing in Color Black History Month Voices 

Writing in Color

Exclusivity in literature should not be tolerated since the very essence of writing
literature is freedom. Therefore, to be exclusive in writing is ironic in itself; Anyone can
write whatever they want, any way they want, but should it truly be this way?
BIPOC authors have raised eyebrows while the readers of the community sigh in
exasperation at recurrent color fetishization in literature. The need for the words
coconut, honey, caramel, chocolate, and coffee to describe a character of color in a
story is still a mystery in mind as to how the reverse would not be accepted if BIPOC
authors were to write: “her pale skin is as creamy as milk” or “her skin is as cool as an
after-dinner mint.” Such practice puts BIPOC readers in an uncomfortable situation
where they have to choose between tolerating a clueless author introducing his or her
character in a fetishizing way while their lips curl into a grimace because they find out
that the author is in fact referring to their race using eroticism of food and sweets, or
they can grab another book. Chances are, it may still display the same writing style (no
It is relevant that writers become educated about the unspoken and unofficial
rules of writing not only for the sake of saving themselves from criticisms of ignorance
and lack of sensitivity towards the BIPOC community, but more importantly, to influence
younger writers to better their writing style for the community of readers, more
particularly the BIPOC. Race and Ethnic indicators in literature are not only possible by
associating the skin color of the character with food and sweets. Furthermore, food and
sweets are the least effective way of indicating these demographic categories. There is
a wide array of methods available that could be used to indicate the race or ethnicity of
a character. The straightforward use of basic colors such as black, brown, and beige is
a plain way to do it but it works fine. However, the description gains a more well-bred
context when combined with creative modifiers such as deep, golden, rich, dark, warm,
and medium. The BIPOC readers hope to see more of “a-smooth-medium-toned-brown”
and less of “a-lustrous-dark-chocolate” in the future.


By: Hyacinth Domingo

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