She waited in the coffee shop for the unknown witness to arrive. After thirty minutes, just as Sarah was about to give up, a woman with creamy cappuccino skin entered and —
Hold up. Stop right there. “Creamy cappuccino skin”? Please, for the love of all readers of color, stop describing us as food!!!
This is a major pet peeve for me when reading, probably higher than whiny female protagonists. Look, I appreciate when a white author chooses to include a character of color (or hopefully even more than one) in their work, I really do. Lack of representation is still a huge issue, as the wonderful folks over at #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign so recently brought up in reference to children’s and YA literature. I do want writers to continue including people of all colors in their books.
That does not mean that you should be constantly referring to your character’s skin tones to point out to the reader just how not white they are. And when you do point out their skin color in a description, please stop using edible words. I don’t want to be eaten. I’m not a chocolate, or any version of coffee, or even butterscotch candy. I’m just me, brown.
How often does a writer specifically call out a white character as white? And even when an author does that, the character is usually compared to porcelain, or silk, or some other delicate non-edible item. All I’m saying is, if you’re an author, ask yourself if you really need to say every time a POC (person of color) enters the scene. Can you let her be brunette, or thin, or short, or well-dressed, or any other adjective that you let all of your white characters be first? You can get to her skin color later, if you need to. Don’t get me wrong, don’t hide your POC characters, but if you’re going to go around highlighting all the POC and how different they are all the time then do the same thing with your white characters too. Thank you. End of rant.
Oh, and just for fun… If White Characters Were Described Like People of Color in Literature.