As most other Tolkien-loving Dopers know, JRRT based his portrayal of the Khazad (Dwarves) of Arda partly on anti-Semitic stereotypes, Old Norse folklore and mythology and history/stories found in the Old Testament.
In my fantasy novel which is set in a medieval world with aspects of the Victorian era, in a country called Isaholmi (“Ice-Island”) modelled on Iceland and Norway in the 1300s, the Dwarves are based on Tolkien’s dwarves as well as being a bit more Norse (magical powers, although the “Jewish sorcerer” was also a medieval thing). They mostly live in ghettoes and quite a few work in jobs involving gold and precious (usury, pawnbroking, banking, all kinds of metalwork) due to certain job restrictions imposed on them by local human and other rulers. Dwarven ghettoes are restricted and the common view among standard humans is that Dwarves are untrustworthy, greedy, will cheat you and will potentially kidnap your children (and use their blood for their strange Dwarven religious purposes) sarcasm.
BTW the protagonist is a young Black boy named Bjarki who also plays into medieval Scandinavian images of the “blamann”; the usual Black character in the sagas is a villain, mostly with supernatural powers (“blue skin” is often associated with the supernatural in sagas) Due to this he’s called a troll-- a common Norse insult for someone who was seen as evil or wild or otherwise not human.
Bjarki eventually discovers that he’s an artificial human and that the berserker he was modelled on, who is also Black, has a dishonourable reputation
One of the premises of this story is writing a novel based on the kind of world depicted in medieval literature, which was highly racist in a very different way to the scientific racism of the 19th century.
Now the way I’ve been tackling this is to research medieval and 19th century racism as well as people’s opinions on racism in fantasy. The usual idea is that depicting non-human races with cultures inspired by human ones is a minefield. Some other people deny that fantasy racism exists.
So what do other Dopers who read and/or write fantasy think? Is it necessarily racist to depict Black berserkers or Dwarves who most non-Dwarves think of as Shylocks? Or Indian or Chinese kings in the way some legendary sagas depict Asian peoples? (although I don’t know of any sagas that take place in China, I’d like an excuse to write characters of my own ethnicity). Do you believe that fantasy can be subtly and unintentionally racist against real-world ethnic groups?
Apologies for the long post. Hope everything is clear.