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SDCC2012: Panel Report for Racebending.com: Creating Spaces for Diverse Characters and Representations

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During the Q&A portion an audience member said that fans were confused by the continued use of the phrase “eventually we’ll get there” and wanted to know at what point the institutions, editors and executives would start to take accountability. The panelists went on to say that they’re not going to stop unless they’re not making money and suggested a purposeful boycott in which consumers and fans stop buying the products that don’t reflect what you want and while doing that, also letting the companies know why you’re not buying them.

Another audience member asked what techniques the panelists use to get into the mindset of a character when writing one of a different race than their own. Grillo-Marxuach said that he tries to write competent characters first, and everything else is secondary to that. Similarly, Jemisin said she tries to insert characters who will tell the story best and everything else serves the story. Grillo-Marxuach followed up by discussing how he wrote the Korean character Jin-See Kwon on Lost by looking at the story, finding something he could identify with, and writing to that. Jemisin then suggested also picking up Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward as it contains techniques and other suggestions.

With that, the panel concluded. You could definitely sense the frustration of the panelists and audience throughout the discussion, because who wouldn’t be in the same situation? There was, however, a clear message that things were changing, albeit slowly and that it was important to continue all efforts to increase diversity.  Check out racebending.com for more information on how you can participate in efforts to increase diversity in media.

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