Once, I knew an individual. There was always this wild chemistry around us. But, there was also something closed about him, what prevented me from realizing what I felt for him. This story is not about love, it’s about racism. For this individual was a swarthy man. I never looked at him that way. He was just an individual to me, one I came to respect deeply.
A class mate of mine, who lives right next to me, and I came up with the idea to write a story about a black boy in the United States. And boy, was I not prepared to be overwhelmed with the shit they go through ev-er-y sing-le day. But I felt like I should go through with it nonetheless.
Our research started with understanding the theme of the story, that we had agreed to write. Racism. To be more specific about this theme we had to read and listen to many sources, because that’s called research. The catch?: you have to stay objective and distant, not letting it get to your head how totally fcked up this whole racism issue is.
The second part of my research was imparting the knowledge;of interviews I’ve listened to and having watched the Youtube videos of real people, on my blank page. Then they just materialized. From my mind came a story. Sure it wasn’t finished yet. That belongs to part three.
Part three of my research about racism, to make a story, was to view the most accurate version without sounding fake, because I am a white woman that is speaking from a perspective I might not even understand. Which is true and i won’t deny it. But brothers and sisters out there, that are in different shades of colour, I might not fully comprehend and profoundly understand the life you are going through, what I can say is this: you are a magnificent human being because you are every color that is apart from boring. Celebrate it! You are even genetically more healthy than I am (Fox News, 2008). I feel often trapped in my “white body”.
To this particular individual that I had adored in the past, without scrutinizing our skins, I hope you are happy and well-loved by friends and family. I hope you have plans to get married to your girlfriend and that you buy a dog together because you are cute and I wish you well.
P.s. I am happy with my life and thank you for having had me in your life.
Fox News (February 22, 2008) “Whites genetically weaker than blacks, study finds”. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/02/22/whites-genetically-weaker-than-blacks-study-finds.html
Podcast of TED Radio Hour by Clint Smith. (Friday, March 16, 2018) NPR: “The consequences of Racism”. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/593866581/the-consequences-of-racism
In my current project I am writing from three different narrators. This almost seems like an insurmountable task; it is like having three personalities or three voices inside your head that say three different things, and sometimes the same. Because they are friends and comrades. The world they live in consists of a boarding school residing in a town called Löwe in the Southwest Germany. Where in the spring the grass is green and during autumn and winter snow falls. This boarding school is called ‘Löwenherz konservatorium’. The conservatory lies in the vicinity of Freiburg. The roads are serpents through the forest, curling, worming. Given the geographical remoteness of Löwe, there’s only one bus passing the town which commutes between Freiburg and Stuttgart.
My first character is Michaela, a lost girl from Italy that narrowly escapes a toxic town of orthodox Christians. My choice in taking Christianity as example was not because I think Christians are bad people, not at all. I have no real opinion about Christians but I have observed in every religion that there are extremities. I’ve used the extremes of Christianity to depict what damage the extremities of religion can cause.
Michaela’s narration is exploring two sides of herself – spiritually and religiously – in an unknown world that she has only dreamt of. Religion versus spirituality is an important theme; it is Michaela’s journey to find herself in both aspects. Where does she stand?
She reminds me of Rapunzel. The girl who got locked in a tower by her mother, who intended to protect her child from the dangerous world outside. Rapunzel had a gift; her long hair had healing powers and kept her mother from aging. Likewise, Michaela possess a gift of her own. When a boy found Rapunzel, she decided to step out of her tower. At first she ate herself out of guilt from going against her mother. Once she got over it, she is confronted with horrors and beauty of the world. In this context Michaela’s birthplace symbolizes the tower in which she was caged and Löwe functions as the world outside. Through Michaela’s eyes it is important to see the world-building. How the rules came to be and how things work in the fictional town of Löwe.
My second character is Sophie lost her mother when she was only 6 months old. Sophie feels cheated by life but maintains a positive image on the outside. She grew up with her twin brother and their best friend Benjamin. Then the ‘incident’ happened. Sophie took a break and left Löwe for a year. Gradually she is picking up the pieces of her old life, though due to “the incident” she is in a constant conflict of self hatred; She made a mistake and can’t seem to forgive herself. At first her character was going to be much more secure of herself and then I looked deeper into her soul and her outer appearance even deceived me. That’s how good she is. She doesn’t let anyone get close to her. She does a lot for you and shows genuine care but who she is, will only be revealed to those who look deeper than what lies on the surface. Her narration was to show the world of Löwe through more willing eyes.
Naturally, a friendship between Michaela and Sophie sprouts from a hunt for identity. According to Erikson (1968, 1980) this is called moratorium. An identity crisis; suspension of choices because of a struggle. Erikson used the term moratorium to describe exploration with a delay in commitment to personal and occupational choices (Woolfolk, 2013). Michaela and Sophie are both around the age of 19/20 and yet both experience this moratorium due to a lack of a parent. Michaela grew up without knowing anything about her father; her father is almost a mythical creature that was never spoken about. Sophie grew up without a mother, who was constantly talked about. Sophie’s twin brother reacts very differently to this ordeal and Sophie does not find the consolation with him. Her twin, Matt does not want to talk about the past or reminisce about a woman he does not even know. This contrast is evident in how they are approached by others; people come to Sophie but would not incline to come to Matt for advice.
My third character is Benjamin, a boy who struggles with the standards that were set by his father. Benjamin has a sensitive nature but his father pressures him into choosing a path that doesn’t feel real to him. Although he had both his parents around, his mother did not make sense to him in terms of her sanity. Her past had a consequence in Ben’s life that would change the way he looked at himself. If only he knew what had happened, it would break the grounds beneath his feet.
What I have observed in fantasy books are cliche triangle-relationships. One could only imagine if my story has adapted that same plot. Two girls fighting for the same boy? Or would there be two boys after the same girl? I’ve noticed that in these triangle relationships one guy is masculine and often a player and the other guy is a creative musician. In my book I have tried to avoid these “stereotypes”, but since it is a human tendency to stereotype I couldn’t help but let some of my characters generalize their friends and talk about them in terms of stereotypes.
Benjamin will star as the creative musician and in contrast to his best friend Matt, who stars as his masculine character foil. Though both men has it advantages and disadvantages, there is no clear right or wrong. The masculine character will even reveal his softer side throughout the book. The urgency of his narration lies within the need for seeing the flaws inside Löwe’s political system. More characters will be described in other entries so keep tuned.
Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, youth and crisis (2nd edn). New York Norton.
Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle (2nd edn). New York Norton.
Woolfolk, A., Huges, M. & Walkup, V. (2013) Psychology in education;
Chapter 3; Personal, social and emotional development. Print.