How to convey a character’s race/ethnicity clearly but appropriately?

Asked by: Brittany Zhang

How do you write a character’s race?

Ten Tips On Writing Race in Novels

  1. Forget about “race.” …
  2. Give your story the power. …
  3. Respect your readers right to cast the story. …
  4. Know your characters’ relationship to ethnicity. …
  5. Check your descriptions of non-verbals. …
  6. Do your homework if you cue ethnicity with jargon, diction, or accent. …
  7. Question the cover art.

How do you mention someone’s race in a story?

When writing about race and ethnicity, use the following tips to guide you:

  1. Capitalize racial/ethnic groups, such as Black, Asian, and Native American. …
  2. Do not hyphenate a phrase when used as a noun, but use a hyphen when two or more words are used together to form an adjective.

How does race and ethnicity affect society?

Racial and ethnic prejudices affect the distribution of wealth, power, and opportunity, and create enduring social stratifications. Racial pride can foment racial prejudice, as in the case of white supremacists.

How do you describe someone’s color in a book?

Physical descriptions – You can describe hair, skin tone, and facial features to create a picture for readers. It isn’t foolproof, though. For example, dark brown skin and curly hair may point to a Person of Color, sure, but not an exact race or ethnicity. It’s wise to pair physical details with other means.

How can a white person write diverse characters?


  1. Describe your characters equitably. …
  2. Avoid stereotypes. …
  3. Utilize your network. …
  4. Assume just stating a character’s race will tell your reader everything there is to know about them. …
  5. Make ethnicity your character’s biggest attribute.
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How do you describe skin in writing?

Descriptors: olive, caramel, brown, black, tan, pale, white, yellowish, gray, ivory, pink, freckled, splotchy, smooth, flawless, rashy, wrinkled, dry, spotted, pocked, hairy, rosy, scarred, saggy, itchy, tingling, acne-spotted…

What are the different races?

For race, the OMB standards identify five minimum categories:

  • White.
  • Black or African American.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native.
  • Asian.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

How do you describe skin color in writing?

You really can’t go wrong using basic colors for your skin descriptions. It’s actually what many people prefer and works best for most writing. Personally, I tend to describe my characters using a combo of basic colors + modifiers, with mentions of undertones at times.

How do you describe POC in a story?

It’s important to describe people of color in YA literature in a way that an actual person of color will want to read. The important part of the character’s description is that she is competitive and serious, which is what gives clues to her personality. The writer can simply say “he/she/they was/were brown or dark.”

How would you describe Native American skin tone?

In reality, the native American skin tone is more on the light brownish side rather than red. America has people with all skin tones today. But the easiest way to spot someone with a Native American skin tone is to look for that awesome olive skin with deep caramel undertones.

What color are Native American eyes?

In general, ancient and contemporary Native Americans were predicted to have intermediate/brown eyes, black hair, and intermediate/darker skin pigmentation.

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Why is Native American skin red?

Red as a racial identifier

Documents from the colonial period indicate that the use of red as an identifier by Native Americans for themselves emerged in the context of Indian-European diplomacy in the southeastern region of North America, becoming common usage in the 1720s.

How do Native Americans mix their skin tone?

But anyways just remember to keep in mind when you're painting Native American skin you can use Caucasian tones just make sure that they're ready. And or orange. Or than the regular Caucasians.

How do you mix Caucasian skin tone?

Mixing Light Skin Tones

Start by mixing equal portions of yellow, red, and blue. Now, you can use white, yellow, or both to lighten this color. With light skin tones, you can add quite a significant amount of white.

How do you get Hispanic skin tone?

Mix together equal parts of each primary color. Just about every skin tone contains a little yellow, blue and red, but in different ratios. Once you’ve done this a few times, you might start with more of one color or another. But to start, go ahead and mix equal parts of each color with a palette knife.