Developing our Latino characters, is a deep journey of observation.
It’s about not taking our experiences for granted.
And also, knowing how to translate them.
And of course that takes lots of work.
and more time.
Personally, for me I want to be careful that I am not perpetuating the stereotype. That I am adding meaning to my characters and balance. I attended a talk with Meg Medina! Una Gran Amiga y escritora–pls read her books! Okay, but now for craft:
She was on a panel at AWP on diversity and YA and writing for our and about ourselves. Take aways: Diversity is not a plot device! And to take off your own cultural lens.
As a Midwest Chicana I know I have one.
Here is what I wrote:
I need to let go of the Euro/Mexican capitalistic Lens, upward mobility–the pull yourself by your own boot straps thingy, Euro-Spanish, Non-Spanish, Politics, the privilege of being a citizen and knowing my brothers and sisters are not. I have to let go of these lenses when I’m writing for children. I know I am afforded privilege as a citizen; mi abuelita reminded me of that, each time we crossed the border. Funny thing, is I still thought I was a citizen of both countries. Or that it was only a matter of time and everyone would be a citizen.
The analytical mind sees it as: coming from an Asset building theory, than just a critical race theory.
She talked about (and Pls Meg correct me if I am wrong:) using micro aggressions towards yourself as a Latina author. Like that: we are not good enough, or that we haven’t arrived or that we need to perfect in our representation of our people.
She talked about being a white Puerto Rican, and how do young ppl cope with stereotypes and for us as– Latina or POC writers to investigate that.
“When you are dancing with character that are close to stereotypes, we have to write them completely! Give them depth in or order to play with them. You have to know them (both the stereotypes and the characters completely…”
Again this was one of the last workshops I went to after a 3 day blow your mind with writers workshops, so my quotes might not be exact.
Both of these processes are scary.
For me, I sometimes am the living stereotype.
and on the other hand if I only know poor urban Latinos how can I write about that upper eastside Manhattan Latina chica that I love to write about…
or that suburban chica going to an all girl college…
Funny, they are there, in my voice (s) and I think it’s because I see them in my kids, in our heartbreaks, struggles and adventures.
again being diverse isn’t a plot device. The plot is HUGE!
Proper character development is critical for voice but plot drives theme, consequences, and action, or non-action. The type of action or non-action might be guided by the character’s culture. OR NOT!
I can remember one Latina book–that honestly besides the names I could not force myself to read.
the Plot was weak and the theme didn’t sing to me.
Taste is subjective.
That’s all for tonight….