Screaming into the void about token characters

i was browsing my episode ig and came across a popular author and couldnt help but notice their story cover that had like 6-8 characters, and ALL of them were white except for this one dark skinned character IN THE WAY BACK TO THE SIDE. like this is what some of yall think diversity is akdjdjdh

i cant help but notice often times when theres a token poc, theyre usually like… not shown in the forefront? anyone else observe this? thoughts? i personally refuse to read stories that have a token poc or i’ll leave the story upon discovering it does because its sus, and to me it shows the author doesnt care about representation.

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I hate it when people do this. Mind telling what story it is? :sweat_smile: but yeah it really bothers me, i’d rather they keep all their characters white rather than half ass it by adding one poc to the side.

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who has 8 people on an episode cover and thinks its cute in the first place

the only person that can get away with that sin is @amberose :woman_technologist:t4::bomb:

love u ambs :wink:

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It kinda feels, like, an advertisement, or something.

So you wrote a story, and all your characters are boring white characters with dumb tropes and stereotypes? And you need a token character to even things out? May I introduce - the best friend? You can jampack that role with both the status of someone who’s LGBTQ+, AND a POC! And who needs pesky things like character and personality when you can just write them as the generic, supportive, sassy BFF?

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I’m not a POC myself but I do agree that tokenism is really annoying. It seems really fake woke to me, like it’s some kind of low effort to include diversity.

That being said, does anyone have any tips to avoid token characters? In a story that I’m writing, the MC’s best friend is black and trans, and while I’m planning to give her a plot of her own and include more characters of color, I’m afraid that I’ll end up making her a token character. Any advice for avoiding that?

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How can u judge diversity, and character being token, without reading, just by judging the cover? Do u know where story happens? Like location? Characters backgrounds…

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@/Riverdalewriters

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im not judging that story. i just found the cover offputting and it made me think of this issue in general.

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i dont have much advice on not making her a token character in terms of her race besides just adding people of different races and ethnicities to your story, but for her being trans i’d say for sure check with a trans person if you arent trans to see if your portrayal of her is respectful/accurate. and dont portray her as being trans before being a person with interests and hobbies.

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Thank you!!!

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This reminds me of that new Noah Centiagagagao movie on Netflix where he dresses up as different people to go on dates to get into Yale? :joy: idk but anyways a lot of critics say that Noah’s best friend is a token character just because he’s black (and gay) which I heavily disagree with

I think he’s just a “token bestfriend loser character to establish that the main character is capable of making friends and being nice but only shows up for 20% of that movie” :joy:

Thoughts?

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ohh lol ive never heard of that movie. doesnt sound like my cup of tea😂 but based on what you said, it doesnt sound like the friend is a token character, he just happens to be black and gay. if the friend isnt very present in the movie and just exists to uplift the main then id agree with your statement. i know best friends in movies are supposed to uplift the main but also its cool when they are their own person and have details and a backstory to them.

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The problem is you could pick any modern teen movie or rom com out of a hat and it will have a white lead with a black or asian friend who may or may not also be gay. Or one POC friend and one white gay friend just so they can cover their bases. It’s never a POC or LGBTQ+ lead with white/straight friends, always the other way around. And usually that friend’s purpose is to get into a conflict with the lead and show them the error of their ways, or guide the lead. You gotta admit, that’s pretty true to the movie you’re talking about. 80% of it completely ignores the friend who has a small but fairly insignificant side story and his importance is mostly in demonstrating that Noah’s character has become selfish/lost his way. It’s particularly bad when the character is Black because there is an old racist trope about the magical Black person guiding the white hero/main character on their quest, as if the Black character’s only purpose in the entire story is to help the white character achieve their hopes and dreams. Now you get these side plots like the friend also getting a (mostly undeveloped) happy romantic ending, but it’s all pretty token-y.

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Maybe people that have several characters that are almost MCs? :joy:

I have come across quite a few. They were not bad.

As for the main topic, I think it might be a coincidence. Like, sure, I am with you on that one: token characters bother me like you have no idea, but the cover situation is not a pattern. At least not one that I see often. Or ever.

I know :joy: I was just making a “joke” and I’m not particularly funny :cowboy_hat_face:

I mean I get that, but this is no Song of the South. Just because the black friend doesn’t show up that much in the movie doesn’t make him a token character. Well, racially, at least. I just thought he was a token friend. Just a character that was in the movie because it would be too sad if poor hot tallNoah Centiagogofoo didn’t have any friends

And they needed a conflict for the first half and the writers aren’t particularly clever or smart and thought teenagers would eat it up (and to be fair, they did :joy:)

I guess this Noah fellow is the new Leonardo DiCaprio/Justin Bieber idk :joy:

But yeah u ain’t wrong :grin::joy: but I still disagree that he’s token just because he’s black

I would consider the white guy from Black Panther to be a token character, though. The one who broke his back or whatever? Idek what happened to him he was super boring?? :joy:

Anyways, I literally don’t understand why they tried to make him part of the main storyline?? :thinking: Like seriously did they think that if there wasn’t at least one living white guy front and center that the movie would flop??? 🤦 It felt really forced to have him in there