I know, I know, it really shouldn't matter -- except that nearly all protagonists fit the mold of John Carter of Mars. White Anglo-Saxon Protestant males prevail in nearly all fiction. In teen fiction, especially fantasy, there's a whole lotta red-headed girls and handsome young (White) boys. Now, yes, a lot of the fantasy is based on Celtic legend, but you know, there's more to the world than Ireland. No cap on Ireland, I enjoy a good epic or urban fantasy as well as the next fan. But there's a whole world out there, why does darn near every story have to focus on one little island?
And then there's the ongoing idiocy in our world. Color doesn't matter? REALLY? Then why is there all this drama about darling little Gabby Douglas, Olympic gold medal winner, and her hair. Her hair? Are you kidding me? This brilliant young gymnast, with a smile that catches you and makes you smile too, the first African American to take the gold in gymnastics, and people are worried about her HAIR? Hello, she's BLACK! Her hair has a different texture, it's been relaxed and it's not going to be the same as some little blonde's fine, wispy do. It's just not. Get real!
Look, if people are having drama about an outstanding Olympic athlete's hair, then we still have a problem. And yes, I'm sad to say that some who've been most critical are Black.
Science fiction and fantasy can look past all the drama of today, bringing our kids exciting stories with good role models -- heroes and heroines that break today's cast-in-stupidity molds and sweep the reader into a future where diversity (and hair) is accepted as normal and natural.
That's just one reason why it's so important to have protagonists of Color. Not the wingman, not the sidekick, not the secondary characters -- I'm talking about the main characters. I want my kid to enjoy rip-roaring sci-fi novels, envisioning himself as that young Black/Mexican/Welsh/Italian/Native American hero that's busting those bad guys' behinds and saving the Universe!
While I haven't incorporated the Edgar Rice Burroughs books yet, no worries. I'll probably put them under "Everybody Else" because John Carter is the rugged Western hero (aka White guy) but they were so, so fun! Yeah, there were definitely signs of the era, but then again, the Princess was "red" so maybe it wasn't quite as bad as it could've been...
Unfortunately, I haven't seen the movie John Carter yet, but I personally think that Disney set it up for failure. The title doesn't even say "Mars" in it! I'm thinking this will be a Netflix movie for me.
Before I had a water pipe break in my house, destroying a LOT of books and two thirds of my comic book collection, I had pretty much the entire John Carter/Mars series by Burroughs. Now I'm going to have to search them out and reread before I can write a competent review. After all, what we remember is filtered by time. Books that I enjoyed when I was young, I now think "What pap!" and books that I thought were boring are now aborbing reads.
If it seems like I'm moving slowly on this website, hey, I read several books every week. It helps to be a speed reader but I also have to maintain my writing to keep the money flowing in. And speaking of, I should get busy with a few how-to articles today!