Saturday, September 23, 2006
  Historical relevatism
This topic touches a bit on my post about Exceptional Girls (8/15/06), although in a different dimension.

I'm writing a fantasy story set back in the 1850s. Most Europeans and Americans back then held very racist views. A significant portion had no problem with slavery, or if they did, they still managed to justify it. Even those who were against slavery, were often against it not on moral grounds but on economic ones. And even those who opposed it due to morality did not necessarily hold non-racist views. Racism permeated our societies for the most part, with a few exceptional pockets.

So, in writing about these characters... how much racism should I write in? If I want to be realistic, the characters ought to be holding views and saying things we'd find totally appalling in modern society. But, do I really want to have characters who are so reprehensible by modern standards? Will my readers be able to like and/or relate to any of them? Do I have a moral duty to say in some manner that these views are reprehensible if accurate, or can I rely on the course of history to have proven that for us all? If I do make one or more of the characters a bleeding heart abolitionist, will it be very believable? Or true?

They aren't easy questions, and I suppose the answers lie in balancing things out. But deciding where exactly to draw the line, is indeed a challenge.
Think of Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn incorporates racism as the normal standard of life that existed at the time. Of course your characters should behave in keeping with their belief systems, right or wrong. Don't you think? It doesn't mean the author is a racist! It means that the author understands the period she's dramatizing. Go for it.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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