IM SORRY BUT I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO RANT TO YOU on this so i apologize ahead of time you can delete it if you want w/e but basically I was on deviantart the other day and I was browsing to try and find art of poc and literally the only art I could find that wasn't photographs was your art and I really love your art but it was really distressing because that is ALL I COULD FIND D8 why do people only draw white folks? I'm very confused?
It seems to be a sad truth on deviantART in particular, probably because tumblr in general is killing the site so all that’s left are younger artists.
AND IT SUCKS. A lot of it is internalized erasure of PoC, I think - the bulk of young artists are using anime as a starting point, and since the typical anime character has pale skin and large eyes, they translate to ‘white’ (although people far more articulate and knowledgable than I have written essays on how the average anime character is meant to be a stylized asian, I know that for years I just thought everyone was an ambiguous white).
And considering the nauseatingly-standard whitewashing in popular series (Katniss and Gale in The Hunger Games, Lavender Brown in Harry Potter, and the entire cast of The Last Airbender, Frozen, The Hobbit, etc.), there are very few people of color in starring roles on television and in movies.
When everything you see and hear is about white characters and comes from white writers, the message that sinks in is “white = default, PoC= other, other = rare”.
Which is all horse shit, of course, but I think that’s a huge problem in the media right now - it always has been, let’s be clear, but right now in particular the whitewashing and erasure seems to be outright malicious (case in point: Stark Trek Into Darkness).
And this isn’t really coming from an inherent sense of moral superiority or anything - my first PoC character came about in fucking 2008 (Trapper and/or Azrael, I’m not actually sure who was created first oops), well after I graduated high school. But as I grew as an artist and learned about different parts of the world and all the cultures I’d never heard about or appreciated before, it became more and more obvious that the shows and movies I watched were glorifying whiteness and condemning or erasing PoC.
Once I woke up and looked around and realized that there IS no “default”, it was so much easier and more gratifying and more LOGICAL to add diversity to my very pale collection of characters.
I can only hope that more people start working against the plague of white supremacy in media - that shows like Sleepy Hollow will get higher ratings than shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and that people KEEP TALKING about how no women of color were allowed to audition for the role of Katniss Everdeen and about how Mako Mori should have been the central focus of Pacific Rim.
I think there’s progress being made, but we’ve got a long way to go and lots of racist nastiness to shine the spotlight on along the way.
(WHOOPS sorry for the essay, i tend to ramble! if i’ve been at all, uh, ignorant during the course of this answer please don’t hesitate to let me know!!)
Thank you, LadyZ, for this excellent little essay about whitewashing and PoC representation. This is probably one of my greatest issues with the dA community; despite the diversity of its members, the most consistently popular posts are either the fetishization of white women or otherwise white characters adhering to a purely Eurocentric standard of beauty. Cultural appropriation and racist slurs are defended because art; which I find intolerable. Perhaps it is a romanticization of the artist on my part, but I’ve always believed them to be more open-minded than your everyday every-man, so when I see both creators and ‘consumers’ justifying the appropriation of Indigenous cultures or praising and defending a white Sailor Moon when a biracial one was dragged through muck and filth, I get a little bit indignant, a lot pissed off. dA is ultimately a community that disregards its marginalized creators. PoC artists get very, very little exposure, and when they draw characters that deviate from the so-called norm, original characters with diverse backgrounds or racebent established characters from beloved series, they are branded as ‘pandering to the PoC crowd’ and are more likely to receive waves of vitriol and bile rather than praise and support that many developing artists need. (Although, admittedly, East Asian artists often grow large fanbases, but I wonder if it has more to do with what LadyZ touched on earlier, which is the assumption that anime characters are defaulted to white, and the appropriation of East Asian culture because it’s ‘cool’ and ‘exotic.’)
Which is why tumblr is so fantastic.
Anyway, I don’t know if you’re looking for some great artists to follow on here who tend to draw more characters from ethnically diverse backgrounds, but here’s a couple that I follow:
*they haven’t updated in a while
And then blogs I follow that curate diverse art are:
~blackcontemporaryart ~devotedtodiversityinart (I just followed them, so I don’t have a great grasp on what they post, but they did feature polararts. They also tend to post about Critical Race Theory, if that interests you.) ~medievalpoc (if you’re interested in PoC in medieval contexts, I can’t rep this blog enough. The curator is intelligent and witty and their posts are hilarious [I fangirl so hard for them]. Also posts on CRT.) And then I inconsistently reblog a hodgepodge of things at ~creativityfailsmeregularly. There’s also ~racebentdisney, but I’m not sure if they’re still active, so I haven’t followed them.
*Phew* I went a little overboard, but I was just really excited to see this post and share a li’l something. Does anyone else have any other great diverse blogs of great artists to follow?
Reblogging for the lovely commentary AND the fantastic list of artists/blogs. (I do love me some Shoomlah, haha <3)