Hey everyone, I’ve been struggling with this for a while and I wanted to see if you all have any ideas on how to handle race and ethnicity representation/inclusion in stories that are set in other worlds than our own, and how to handle the relationship (or lack thereof) between them.
I feel like I tend to overcomplicate this when I’m thinking about it, so I’ll start with the (relatively) simple question. Given that this story is set in a world where discrimination is for the most part not really present, is it better to associate race and ethnicity, or to not?
Would it be better to show the world as mostly a melting pot where cultures are perhaps tied to countries, but people of all skin tones live basically everywhere – in other words, where race exists but ethnicity doesn’t really? Or does it make more sense to portray a world where there’s still at least some amount of relationship between a person’s skin tone and the experiences they tend to have, culture they tend to grow up in, etc?
I feel like both options have pros and cons, but I think I tend to end up seeing the cons moreso. The first option feels like it could ring hollow or read as tokenism. But the second option feels like it could result in some potentially damaging or at least obnoxious perpetuation of stereotypes. So I end up being kind of dubious of both options, but I can’t really think of how else to go about it.
So, any advice? Any thoughts on what you would prefer to see? Am I just approaching this from completely the wrong perspective to begin with? Are there any particularly successful examples of representation or inclusion of race and/or ethnicity that you’ve seen, especially ones set in other worlds?
Final note: I should specify that I am talking about NPCs, not MCs, although that might be a discussion worth having as well.