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Old 06-18-2019, 01:10 PM
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Well, ultimately, everything is a choice you made. You could choose to write stories only about four-dimensional space otters, and then race would never come up. But that doesn't mean that when someone writes a story where race does come up, you can just say "It's your own fault that race came up; you should have chosen to stick with the space otters".

Sometimes someone will say that the race of a character is absolutely inherent to the story they're trying to tell. And sometimes, when they say that, they're wrong. But sometimes, they're right.

If you're trying to tell a story about an astronaut who gets left behind on Mars and has to figure out how to survive for the year or more it'll take for rescue to get there, then sure, you can make Mark Watney black if you want: It won't change anything. If you're trying to tell a story about the astronauts on Apollo 13 who had to figure out how to survive getting back to Earth when their service module exploded, well, now race is at least somewhat relevant: The first black astronaut didn't fly until over a decade after that, which says something about the culture of NASA at the time of Apollo 13, which is at least part of the story you're trying to tell, though not necessarily the most critical part: It'd be a distraction to make Jim Lovell black, though maybe you could pull it off, if you were very, very good at it. If you're trying to tell a story about the struggles faced by NASA's first director of the IBM operating group in being accepted by NASA and society, you can't make Dorothy Vaughn white, because that defeats the entire point of the story you're trying to tell.