I was informed that black people don’t use the word “sure”, and the person who told me this actually questioned the “credibility” of my work as an Author, well, in a sense.
It would seem some people actually WANT to see racial stereotypes in the books they read.
I was at one of my Writing Group meetings and the members were critiquing my submission. Most liked it though there were some things that needed to be fixed as you would expect with a rough draft. Then one Caucasian member asked me what ethnicity my protagonist was supposed to be, which I thought kind of odd because they had been reading the story since chapter 1, but I re-informed them the character is African-American. Then, the member proceeded to tell me they had a problem with the dialog in my submission because my protagonist used the word “sure” and black people don’t used the word “sure”. The member even said they looked it up on-line.
I’m African-American and that was one of the most absurd things I’d ever heard!
Now, I don’t know if this member was trying to be funny or what, but the whole group got quiet because I’m SURE they were thinking the same thing I was. What the hell is this person talking about? I’m not the only African American in the group and I’m sure the “other ones” and myself have used the word sure during our group conversations. Another thing that went through my mind was how detached from reality was this person that they had to look on-line to see if “Black People” use the word sure when they go to a group, at least two times a month, that has African-American members? Then, also, why did it bother them so much that they felt they had to research it in the first place?
At the time, all I could do was laugh in their face, I mean, it was so totally absurd what else could I do? They had to be joking, right? Getting irate and upset wouldn’t’ have done any good. To a point, it was like dealing with a child who didn’t know any better, or like that time a co-worker of mine, many years ago, confessed to me they didn’t believe in molecules because the whole concept was stupid…yeah, that’s what they said.
In any case, I did go on to explain that, yes, black people use the word “sure”, though it is a shame I actually had to do that. One of the other members chimed in jokingly and asked, “Well, what do black people use in place of the word sure?” and the member replied “I don’t know, it didn’t really say on the Internet.”
That’s comedic gold right there, and societal shame, lol!
I must admit, the member did lose some measure of common credibility in my eyes, and I learned that to some extent, my work will be criticized for such small things like the usage of the word “sure” by people who believe the same as that member does. I mean, I can see it now, someones reading my book and they come across that line of dialog and say “What? Black people don’t use the word sure!” Then they slam the book down or delete it from their Kindle, lol.
As I’ve said in the past, writing groups can help prepare you for all sorts of public interactions from the mundane to the bizarre.
Has your work ever been criticized for NOT using stereotypes?