1. Patricia Yager Delagrange
    October 24, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

    I’m writing a book now that has a scene in a group discussion of women who have been abused by their partners. One of the women is black and I have her talking jive. I thought about changing that then thought, no, because she reminds me of someone I’d seen who talked just like that and it was true. I don’t want to stereotype all black women, and I bet I’ll offend someone, but I’m not creating a stereotype but writing about real life.


    • alicamckennajohnson
      October 25, 2011 @ 1:26 am

      Exactly you are creating a specific character and when you do that it gives you the freedom to use specific behavior patterns. It’s when someone tries to make them a ‘general ethnic type’ that they become offensive.
      Can’t wait to hear how your jive talking woman turns out!


  2. Anthony V. Toscano
    October 24, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    Alicia, The only stereotype about my people that I dislike has to do with the accent of recent immigrants from my family’s homeland, Italy. I dislike the stereotype for only one reason: Most folks who write, speak or film the accent GET IT WRONG! My people who were recent immigrants to the USA spoke with Italian inflections when they spoke English. But they didn’t put a breve “a” sound at the end of every syllable or word, “l’m…uh like…uh you..uh. Will…uh you…uh go…uh to…uh bed…uh with…uh me…uh?”

    Get the accent right, and I’ll enjoy listening.

    Other stereotypes that I love because they are in many cases true: 1. We sing well. 2. We’re all good looking. 3. Cosa Nostra is real (Our Thing, not the violent Mafia bull…uh…shit…uh).

    You blog, she’s pretty.


    • alicamckennajohnson
      October 25, 2011 @ 1:29 am

      Those are some great sterotypes to keep around 🙂 The over done accents can be so offensive. I do have to admit, however, when I watch British shows and they have an American actor I get a kick out of how they portray us and out accents. It makes me laugh.


  3. Julie Glover
    October 24, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

    I like what you and Patti said. I see ridiculous stereotypes sometimes, and it makes me want to cringe. For instance, I am loving the series Hart of Dixie, except that the Hollywood costume designer may not have been to Alabama much.

    And Christians often get stereotyped as all fundamentalist crazies, whereas the religious people I’ve known run the gamut. So have a religious crazy in your book or show, but not twenty of them (unless your book is about a crazy religious community, in which case go right ahead). My two cents on this topic. Interesting post!


    • alicamckennajohnson
      October 25, 2011 @ 1:32 am

      Thank you Julie- and it’s true, people need to get to now their characters, where they are from, and their backgrounds. If you can tell me why they are a religious freak then great- if you idea is all “X” are religious freaks, then that’s offensive and I’m going to put your book down or turn off the movie. Being specific is an important key to staying away from stereotypes.


  4. Lani Wendt Young
    October 25, 2011 @ 1:10 am

    this is an insightful post – thank you. I do get worried about offending people, worried about the steretypes, worried about what ‘real’ such and such will think if i portray such and such in my book …And this can be a paralyzing trap. its so true, we cant make everybody happy. And we will somewhere down the line, manage to offend somebody. Especially if our book reaches a wide enough audience! Like the comment above from Patricia tho, most of my characters are blends of pieces/insights of lots of REAL people that i have met/known. And so I dont feel that Im writing to a stereotype, but that its real.

    Either way, great post!


    • alicamckennajohnson
      October 25, 2011 @ 1:34 am

      Lani thank you so much! It can be nerve wracking but when we write from our own experiences, create full dynamic characters, and do our best then at least we can proudly pass out our book knowing we did right by ourselves. And we can hope to reach enough people that at least one of them is offend- maybe it should be a badge of honor 🙂


  5. Jess Witkins
    October 25, 2011 @ 2:18 am

    I love your point about redheads. *Of course I do!* I worked in a diversity education group for a few years and we actually created a training scene called “closet redhead” that paralleled the discriminating world for gay and lesbian people. It was one of the most talked about scenes of our show because it was presented humorously, but brought home the point that discrimination of any kind is wrong against our fellow human beings. I’m proud I was a part of that.


    • alicamckennajohnson
      October 25, 2011 @ 3:20 am

      Jess it sounds like a great group I wish I had one here! I think when things are presented with humor it allows people a safe way to look at themselves without feeling bad or lectured.


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