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How to describe the color of the skin? (1 Viewer)

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KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
Ah yes, the post did come off a certain way. Perhaps in a way he did not intend (hopefully)
I try to be careful with how I express myself, so if I say something and it comes off wrong please let me know and I will clarify (for future reference) :)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Ah yes, the post did come off a certain way. Perhaps in a way he did not intend (hopefully)
I try to be careful with how I express myself, so if I say something and it comes off wrong please let me know and I will clarify (for future reference) :)
Yes, I'm sure he didn't mean it that way. This is such an important topic and we all need to take care in how we express ourselves. I also used a word that I now understand to be outdated. I googled it and Joker is right. But we are all part of one species, homo sapiens. No one questioned that.

We should be having robust conversations with the purpose of learning how to communicate in a more inclusive way. I think as writers we can and will do better in addressing people's concerns to be more sensitive. I'm going to coin a new phrase. "Correct" is the new "Politically Correct."
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
While there are good intentions here, I think this is where the stifling begins.

This is what I'm concerned about. If we can only talk "correctly" (according to...who's going to play the part of the thought police here?) about a topic so important that we all have to watch how we talk about it, is robust conversation even possible?

No thought police. Have thick enough skin to have a real discussion about a writer describing what the OP asked about or don't discuss it. Be gracious with each others' errors. The site rules are sufficient to keep everything civil.
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
So this is how I see it. If a person (regardless of race/ethnicity) is offended by a description as simple as "caramel" for skin color. I cant fathom why. Maybe since it's food-related? but light warm brown sounds dull, and if we can say porcelain/ eggshell milk(y) for a person of fair skin and it not be a "problem". I cant comprehend why people would see "caramel" as an issue. It can be a personal preference if you like the word choice or not-but i don't see anything inherently wrong with it...
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Ha. You do realize the term "politically correct" comes from towing the Communist Party line during Soviet times, right?
No, I didn't know that. I've never much cared for the term. It seems so insincere. It's like only say it because it's what people want to hear.

Joker, you know I think the world of you right! And I really respect your opinion, that's why I took that personally when I shouldn't have. Are we ok?
 

Joker

Senior Member
So this is how I see it. If a person (regardless of race/ethnicity) is offended by a description as simple as "caramel" for skin color. I cant fathom why. Maybe since it's food-related? but light warm brown sounds dull, and if we can say porcelain/ eggshell milk(y) for a person of fair skin and it not be a "problem". I cant comprehend why people would see "caramel" as an issue. It can be a personal preference if you like the word choice or not-but i don't see anything inherently wrong with it...

I think the problem lies more in the fact that it's cliche. I don't see the need in most instances to describe someone's skin in such flowery language anyways. Just say someone is pale, dark-skinned, tan, or whatever.
 

Joker

Senior Member
No, I didn't know that. I've never much cared for the term. It seems so insincere. It's like only say it because it's what people want to hear.

Joker, you know I think the world of you right! And I really respect your opinion, that's why I took that personally when I shouldn't have. Are we ok?

No problem here.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
I think the problem lies more in the fact that it's cliche. I don't see the need in most instances to describe someone's skin in such flowery language anyways. Just say someone is pale, dark-skinned, tan, or whatever.
I tend to agree with that. Plus there's clarity to try for. I've read some work where the description of the character was so cagey and indirect that I couldn't picture them. That's just frustrating. It isn't that I need everything to be spelled out but I appreciate having something to go on.
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
I think the problem lies more in the fact that it's cliche. I don't see the need in most instances to describe someone's skin in such flowery language anyways. Just say someone is pale, dark-skinned, tan, or whatever.
i did describe a character of mine as having caramel skin...and u r right it is a bit cliche. Maybe I will look for another word but regardless I think its a good description, paints a clear picture :)
 

Joker

Senior Member
I tend to agree with that. Plus there's clarity to try for. I've read some work where the description of the character was so cagey and indirect that I couldn't picture them. That's just frustrating. It isn't that I need everything to be spelled out but I appreciate having something to go on.

That's just people being too scared to just outright say the character is white/black/pink with purple polka dots! At least in books written in the last thirty years. It's so stupid.
 

Joker

Senior Member
i did describe a character of mine as having caramel skin...and u r right it is a bit cliche. Maybe I will look for another word but regardless I think its a good description, paints a clear picture :)

I think we can do a lot better. You can characterize someone and reveal their skin tone. Like, if it's a white dude who works a lot in the field, describing his skin as badly sunburnt tells me two things in one.
 

Joker

Senior Member
This all reminds me of something that happened in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The main character keeps a picture of his extended family, but it isn't even mentioned that some of them are black until he's arrested in Kentucky for race mixing. (The book was written in the 60s). It's not even important until society makes it.

(Also, his arrest was planned without his knowledge to make the authorities look bad.)
 

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
This all reminds me of something that happened in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The main character keeps a picture of his extended family, but it isn't even mentioned that some of them are black until he's arrested in Kentucky for race mixing. (The book was written in the 60s). It's not even important until society makes it.

(Also, his arrest was planned without his knowledge to make the authorities look bad.)

Must be a Heinlein go-to. If I recall correctly, he waited until the last page or so of Starship Troopers to mention that Johnny Rico was a Filipino and the language of his youth was Tagalog. It came up briefly when one of his squadmates mentioned speaking Spanish as a kid.

Didn't lower my appreciation of the book any.
 

Joker

Senior Member
Must be a Heinlein go-to. If I recall correctly, he waited until the last page or so of Starship Troopers to mention that Johnny Rico was a Filipino and the language of his youth was Tagalog. It came up briefly when one of his squadmates mentioned speaking Spanish as a kid.

Didn't lower my appreciation of the book any.

Correct. It's revealed that Johnny is a nickname - his real name is Juan.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
It seems to me there's a strong element of 'damned if I do, damned if I don't' about this. If I don't have characters with varying racial characteristics I'm a racist because I only have (assumed) white characters, and if I mention or allude to varying racial characteristics, I'm still a racist because I've mentioned them. Woe betide me if any of the non-whites happen to be criminals.
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Global Moderator
It seems to me there's a strong element of 'damned if I do, damned if I don't' about this. If I don't have characters with varying racial characteristics I'm a racist because I only have (assumed) white characters, and if I mention or allude to varying racial characteristics, I'm still a racist because I've mentioned them. Woe betide me if any of the non-whites happen to be criminals.
And therein lies the issue. There's a section of society that lies in wait for people to make any comment regarding ethnicity/skin colour so they can apply a label and, ultimately, achieve the aim of making themselves feel righteous. Meanwhile, true racism/prejudices in the world go largely unchallenged.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Folks, we're starting to get into an area outside of the original discussion, and the conversation now borders on politics. Please return to the original subject or this thread will have to be shut down. My warning is not based on the viability of anyone's comment, but strictly on WF policy.
 
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