Sunday, May 27, 2012

Character as a spotlight on society

As an artist, I'm a product of my society.

In the December 2011 post, I uploaded the latest picture on my female protagonist, Stacey Hankin.  As far back as this story goes, I always thought of a hound as her breed. I had already determined which kind back in elementary school.
"Stacey Hankin" (c)

When I posted this image, the response I received was, to paraphrase a close friend, "A hound! Why, out of all the dogs to choose, did you have to pick such an unattractive dog?" Later, the same friend told me the character was actually cuter than she expected.
I had, in early years, received similar responses, and therein lies the crux...

I've often admired the hound, for its hardiness, its stamina, and through a breeder's eyes, its history. The hound is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.
There is a hound on almost every continent. The hound, oftentimes, without, or, with little human interference, has occurred naturally in many parts of human culture.

Now I come to the next point: in my story, though it is furry fiction, I still try to retain the elements of human society and construct. This means that while my story's cast consists entirely of dogs, they still try to represent the different races and ethnicities.

Stacey Hankin is my Black American woman, and if she were human, she would be very dark. Because of her darkness, she is ridiculed, not just from whites, but more so by blacks.

This theme features predominately in my story: this obsession in society to determine a person's worth and attractiveness by how light and dark they are. This plays out moreso in our so-called 'enlightened' or 'educated' society.
"Beatrice and her sisters" (c)
Many of us know about segregation, but by reading much history, one learns that laws once used race by determining how much mixture in an individual.
Amount of blood determined who one could marry, who one COULDN'T marry, to gain inheritance, to lose inheritance, and that laws were made to even decide who could or could not vote...

To witness archaic rules in motion nowadays, that to be of mix-raced in order to determine attractiveness, sickens me.

In the 21st Century, to still hear people asked if they are mixed to later be told they are beautiful is a clarion call to a change in society's attitudes.

We are responsible for our actions, we each make up the decisions that will fulfill our society's framework.
I'm hoping with this story, the stories I've published, and the stories yet to come, I will, in small part, make an impact to change these destructive ideas that continue to plague our society.

As a writer, as an artist, I have a responsibility to envision the world I wish to see, futures I may hope for.

We are the motes, the cogs, the molecules that make up society's cellular body.

What is your call to action? What will you do? What is your part?

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