Somebody asked a question asking about a fictional humanoid race. To my eyes, the premise of this fictional race has strong parallels with a real-world early 20th century racist stereotype of African-American men kidnapping and raping white women, and a story written about this race could be interpreted by some readers as a racist metaphor.

My assumption in this case is that the OP had no idea, did not intend to write a story that people would see a racist stereotype in, and the parallels simply hadn't occurred to them. Assuming good faith, I wrote an answer explaining how this fictional race could be interpreted, and then offered some ideas for how to either avoid or subvert that stereotype in a story about that fictional race. The important points of my answer were "To some readers, [your race] will come across as a racist metaphor for [real race of people]" and "I'm going to assume this is absolutely not how you want your work to be interpreted".

A moderator deleted that part of my answer explaining what the problem was, leaving just my proposals for how to solve it, devoid of the context of what needed to be solved or why. I asked the moderator what was wrong with my answer that they had edited, and their response was:

It's plainly racist in itself, not based on what the OP is asking and not needed at all to support the rest of your answer.

At best, calling my answer "plainly racist in itself" means the moderator cannot have understood the answer they were editing; and it smacks of the old canard, "you're the real racist because you mentioned racism", but I'd like to be charitable if I can. In my opinion, what I wrote is certainly not racist (here's a link to the edit history if you want to judge for yourself), was clearly based on what the OP asked, and was needed to support the rest of my answer.

I think the moderator got this totally wrong: if I am building a world to write stories in, I would want my world to not accidentally contain things which could be interpreted as harmful stereotypes. Avoiding racist metaphors as possible interpretations of one's writing is a genuine world-building problem so it is clearly on-topic, and - do I really have to say this? - it is not racist to consciously recognise parallels with racist tropes in order to avoid or subvert them.

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    $\begingroup$ I understand you feel offensed by the lack of common grounds between you and some of the other people here, and I include myself among them with my misunderstanding of your answer.[...] $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ [...] However, if being clearly understood is really important for you, maybe take an alternative road? If people misunderstood your way of saying things, instead of tackling everyone commenting how they were wrong (side-tip : This kind of speech tends to create more irritating arguments than interesting discussions), what can you do to prevent this from happening again? If the steps to take are not clear, perhaps asking directly what made them think that way so you can improve this step-by step, this incident now but more importantly the future ones }i{? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ not all stereotype are negative, and as long the intention is not disrespectful or try to pick a fight with certain group/ethnic/race which is the real problem are. and i think, i also agree with this statement "It's plainly racist in itself, not based on what the OP is asking and not needed at all to support the rest of your answer." and "you're the real racist because you mentioned racism" (but this one require certain context, which usually twisted) $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ Let people write their own stories however they want, true sigmas worldbuild for the sake of worldbuilding not to satisfy an everchanging society. What is offensive and what is not, what is tollerable and what is censured literally, LITERALLY changes every 4 or 5 years. $\endgroup$
    – user89947
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ Also, since what is offensive changes every so often, not every part of the world is always perfectly in sync with the new " be offended updates " so non-american worldbuilders or even people that don't use twitter might either just not care or have no idea about those updates. $\endgroup$
    – user89947
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Rad140 It's not only about being in sync, every culture has their own set of evolving rules to not breach ^^. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena exactly, and some worldbuilders are not part of the americam culture, and if they publish something in their culture it might result offensive to westerners but to their culture. $\endgroup$
    – user89947
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 22:03

6 Answers 6


Yes, you can! ...

If you feel that topic is touchy for some reason that the asker might not know, you can give this piece of feedback. It is often a useful insight to the asker's world, something which might have unforeseen consequences down the line.

...But not this way...

Answers are meant to... Answer the question ;p. Warning about something is more thought of as side-notes (or in some cases frame challenges). And side-notes, while interesting, should be kept short as comments or as very short side-notes instead of taking half an answer. Why is it? It's simply because writing a paragraph on this side-note will probably side-track the question towards a discussion, on top of preventing getting an actual answer to the question.

So to ensure the site's readability and your answer's full help, give a comment on the question or as a one-sentence side-note to your answer.

... Speaking of side-notes

Well, it's not actually a side-note but more a deeper thought. Reading your answer made me think about how the symbols which carved the atrocities made during the WW-II by the German antisemite government at the time are forbidden in games (among others medias) in this same country now. Those symbols and gestures are a reminiscence of the acts some had -or... Hard to say... were willing- to make, which hurt their very cultural soul.

I understand why they do that (and hope many others would do too). But taking another point of view, talking about this past is the way to not forget and not make the same mistake again. This is what some stories made efforts into, keeping respects to the ones who suffered from this1.

But why do I talk about this? Well, your non-squeezed-down answer tells about how you somehow wish that the asker's world isn't about racism :

I'm going to assume this is absolutely not how you want your work to be interpreted

Kaya3 original answer

But like my hint at WWII forbidden symbolism, is it necessarily bad that Ichthys King's world include a metaphor of racism and its history? Hmm wait... Let me better write it : What, personally makes you think their intents could only lead to depict some apology of discrimination? I emphasize on "personally" because we're striking right on feelings, here. The feelings that the question gave you, relative to yourself.

Fictious species and more generally world elements are often used to serve as a way to transmit a message. First example in mind... Oh yes, the Star Trek series is quite known for that, like the Outcast episode which talks about the discrimination of people's gender orientation. The part that makes them "morally acceptable" is not really on the world itself (the species in this episode is quite... Uh.), but the way it is presented to us made from the intents behind. Adding world parts is like choosing your ingredients, and then it's all about how you cook your story to give the taste and shape you wish.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't have pointed out this, my first paragraph still stands. After all, we don't know if the asker knew about that risky bind, nor their intents about the story they're setting up. It can be very beneficial. My point is just that it might be interesting to take a step back, and think first about how much a washed-out-for-the-web question can display the intents of its author(s), before wondering what such intents could be.

And if the question is bothering you too much, it is maybe just the perfect time you've got to quit and pass to the next question. Indeed, you shouldn't feel responsible for everyone's actions you see.

1 : Logic note here : Telling that some stories keep respects don't necessarily mean all stories keep respect. Sadly }i{.

  • $\begingroup$ "What, personally makes you think their intents could only lead to depict some apology of discrimination?" I don't think they could only lead to that; what I think is that they could lead to something which would be intepreted as that if the OP isn't aware of it or doesn't make a conscious decision to write their story in a way which avoids or subverts that interpretation. It would be perfectly possible for the OP to write a story about racism, in which case the trope could be included to subvert it - and my answer suggested some ways to do that - but the question didn't say ... $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ "this is meant to parallel a racist trope in order to tell a story about racism" so although I could have assumed that and said nothing, I thought it more helpful to make sure the OP was aware of it. At worst, the OP could say "yes I'm aware of that and I do plan to subvert it" and no harm would be done. As for including it in a comment instead of the answer - OK, I could have done that instead, but surely it is appropriate to include in my answer an explanation of why I think this is what should be done? $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ @kaya3 Maybe it's just due to a bad pen stroke, but this is what I felt when I read your answer, The paragraphs size to whole text ratio, repeating sentences, bolding out and adding italics, Adding it all gave me this feeling, or it showed at least that you're deeply concerned by what the author might do with this. Like I said, you shouldn't feel the responsibility to make their world "morally good" -whatever this means- in their stead. In that sense, stressing out a lot a warning tends to give a sense of "interdiction" rather than a simple hint, if you get what I mean :). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ The reason I bolded those parts was to try to prevent my answer from being read as accusing the OP of being racist. I wanted it to be impossible to misinterpret my intentions that way. Somehow it was still possible for people like elemtilas to think I was saying or implying OP was racist... I guess some people see the word "racist" and their reading comprehension goes out the window. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ As for making their world "morally good", I agree that there is value in including morally wrong ideas from the real world in one's work - as you say, we could not tell proper stories about World War 2 without including characters who hated Jews and wanted to exterminate them. The important thing is that ideas like that should be included knowingly and the story should show what is wrong with them, i.e. it should subvert them rather than promote them. Perhaps that is not a moral imperative, but stories tend to have something to say, and people tend to prefer stories with better things to say. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ @kaya3 You got your hand on a jumpy topic, so expect people to jump on it :p. That's also a reason to keep these things short and... uh... side-noty. I don't have anything really relevant to say about your question anymore, so if you wish to continue with me, you should open up a discussion in the chat ;). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ @kaya3 -- No need to get personal! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ I can't imagine a story where a negative racial stereotype like that wouldn't be offensive, even with the darkest of humour in mind. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 4:03
  • $\begingroup$ @TheSquare-CubeLaw Well, for example, it could be an in-world stereotype, and the story could make clear that it's not actually accurate. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 8:45


I read the question and I read kaya3's answer, in its original format and in its post-redaction version. Tortilena thinks I initially reacted too emotionally, and I concur, so am reviewing the whole matter again and am carefully rewriting my response.

Data & Commentary:

I've just reread the Meta question, all the answers and all the commentary. I've just reread the original Main query, all the answers and all the commentary.

OP asks a question about the mating habits of what is essentially an agendered but male-like, mitotically reproducing being that must make use of the female of another species as a receptacle for its baby zygote in order to reproduce.

The initial response under consideration makes assumptions about the motives and activities of the fictional race that have no basis in the query itself:

You are proposing (1) a biologically distinct race of humanoids which (2) does not coexist peacefully with humans, (3) can reproduce sexually with humans but the offspring are their own race and not human, and (4) are sexual predators who prey upon human females.

They then make an unfounded assumption about how some people will react to this fictional species:

To some readers, kleptons will come across as a racist metaphor for Black people.

They then moderate the indirect accusation, while still placing the onus of the accusation and also how other people will react onto the OP:

I am sure this was not your intention at all, but part of writing means being aware of how your readers may interpret your work.

They then delve into human history a bit, which is not relevant to the question at all:

Historically, white supremacists have depicted Black people as (1) a biologically distinct race who (2) cannot or should not coexist with white people, (3) can reproduce sexually with white people but the offspring are considered to be black and not considered to be white, and (4) well, hopefully you get the point.

They then moderate the indirect accusation again:

I'm going to assume this is absolutely not how you want your work to be interpreted

Yet continue to press the indirect accusation by rationalising the unfounded assumption that unnamed other people will react in a certain way. And more than that, inflates the indirect accusation by bringing in a variety of socially fringe elements and making yet another baseless assumption about how people will react:

but the point I'm making is that what you're describing could reasonably be interpreted this way. Racists could read your work and think you are on their side; Black people could read your work and be reminded of harmful depictions of themselves. To avoid this, I think the rest of your world needs to be carefully built and your story carefully written.


First, I should note that as of this revision, the question itself has gained +9/-1 votes and that all the answers apart from one have gained anywhere from +3 to +21 votes. Kaya3's answer has gained +3/-3.

I'd interpret this as a modestly well received query and a variety of reasonable answers with no indication in comments or voting patterns that anyone other than Kaya3 believes there is any inherent racism in the fictional race described.

I'd argue that this is an individual / personal opinion about the question's matter; and also that it does represent a valid concern in general though not in specific.

Having scrutinised the original question again, I still can not find any hint of racism or any other -ism in the text of the question. Nor can I find any "parallel" with the historical notes provided. I still maintain that this is essentially the Amazon Question: a single sex / gender population that needs to reproduce, how can they do this without needlessly antagonising their reproductive receptacles.

Far from the claim & accusation of racism, the species in question categorically negates accusations #2 and #4: they explicitly wish to coexist peacefully with humans, and they are, by nature, not sexually predatory in any way.

A sexual predator is a person with a deviant sexual urge.

On the matter of the historical notes: it is not "white supremacists" who determined that Africans are a biologically distinct race. Ordinary scientists & natural philosophers came up with these and other similarly bizarre propositions about different ethnicities of humans. The ideas that blacks shouldn't mix with whites or that their offspring are considered "black" rather than "white" are unscientific conclusions. None of these historical notes correspond to anything specified in the question.


There are several issues going on here that we should consider.

Banner Question: To answer your banner question, Should we warn about (presumably unintended) parallels with racist tropes? I think the answer is clearly and obviously YES! We should warn an OP when a question contains racist content. And in fact, WB.SE practice has been to do just this. Not just racism per se, but with any kind of obviously discriminatory or defamatory content.

Underlying Issue: The issue being addressed here is not one of what should be done, but rather how we should approach it. I'd argue that we already have a reasonable process for addressing issues of this kind:

  1. Ask for clarity -- if you think the question has questionable contents, just write a comment asking the OP for clarity! "I think X, Y and Z could be interpreted as racism / anti-religion / discrimination; can you please clarify?"
  2. Flag the question -- either flag it for closure and give a reason, or flag it for moderator review
  3. Start a meta discussion -- If the OP doesn't respond or if you really still think there is a problem, bring it here so the query and claims can be evaluated.
  4. The usual reactions -- downvote and give a succinct rationale -- "I'm downvoting because I think your question is racist and you haven't addressed this concern."

Moderator Intervention: It's my opinion that while I believe your intention was noble enough, as you explain in your apologia above, I think you didn't execute very well. A moderator is kind of limited in what actions they can take when a query or a response is flagged for attention. A mod can choose to ignore the flag, they can modify the post or they can delete the post.

The choice to modify a flagged post is, in my opinion, almost always the best choice. In this case, a prudential judgement was made to preserve the part of your response that does actually try to answer the question, while also respecting the concerns of whoever flagged your answer. He redacted that part of your answer that, in his moderatorial judgement, does not actually address the question, but rather addresses a particular concern of yours.

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    $\begingroup$ I didn't put any words in the OP's mouth. My two assumptions are that the parallels with the racist trope are unintended, and that the OP would want to avoid them if they were made aware of them. Which of those assumptions do you claim is harmful? I also haven't said that the OP's question was harmful in any way. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ "... write an answer that comes extremely close to accusing another person of the hatred du jour." If you read my answer and thought I was anywhere near accusing anyone involved of being racist or hateful, then I really think you did not read it carefully enough. I explicitly wrote that I assumed the OP wasn't aware of it and wouldn't have intended it. That is, I explicitly wrote the opposite of what you seem to think I said. The fact that you are asking me to demonstrate how the OP "made even a shade of racism" means you still do not understand what I actually wrote; that flabbergasts me. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ "whatever it is you believe some other random and unnamed people out there might possibly and incorrectly read into the OP's question" I'm not talking about what people might read into the OP's question, I'm talking about what they might read into the OP's story about the fictional race described in the OP's question. People will read into the story what they see in the story, they will not know what the author's intent was and the author's intent wouldn't invalidate their interpretations anyway. If OP wants readers not to interpret ... $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 0:02
  • $\begingroup$ ... the story that way, the only thing they can do about it is write the story in such a way that this interpretation is not viable, and that is what my answer suggested how to do. Take Harry Potter's banker goblins for example - it's a matter of verifiable fact that some readers interpret them as an antisemitic trope. Assuming J.K. Rowling didn't want her story to be read as uncritically promoting an antisemitic trope, don't you think she would want advance warning that that's what would happen, so she could do something to prevent it? $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ @kaya3 Taking the devil's hand, I'd say that because you assume that they wouldn't praise discriminations, you leave out the possibility they could do it. Not really "racist", but not über friendly either. Regarding the harm's done, indeed, because you brought the subject to the table (that is, so prominently), you put some sort of "potential racism" tag to the question. But that's only logic induction in the end and it would need confirmation, though. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ This reminds me so much of the first episode of The Office. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for editing and putting your inner thoughts over your feelings. Much clearer than what I could :). I deleted my now irrelevant comment (goodbye wordpun :'( ). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena -- Thank you for pointing out the issue in the first place! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 2:00

I agree that the question has a hint of white supremacy, but I (want to) believe that it's accidental. Sometimes the racial prejudice we have is subconscious and ingrained from childhood (just watch some old Bugs Bunny cartoons). We do harm because we are not immediately aware of it. We can do better of we are made aware of what we are doing.

I think the right course of action here is to leave a comment, even if it is too big, to the OP; Maybe they do have an idea for some fictional people they could use for a novel, and being aware of the problem could lead them to redesign those fictional people away from racial stereotypes. Failing that, a flag would be appropriate so that the mod team can contact them. An answer is more permanent than a comment on a question or a flag, but it calls less attention.

As for the way this was handled: mod team, please review that again carefully. I have seen warnings for offenses much smaller than the one in the question.


There were two problems with your answer:

  1. the comment about the (supposed) racist intent of the OP did not belong nor support the answer at all
  2. while the OP had written those lines, they had not assigned them to a specific declination of human beings (Mind that those are the cornerstone of any racist stereotype in (recent) history). You did specifically attribute them to a group, going beyond the OP's statement.

Considering both those aspects, I have deemed better for your post to expunge that part without taking down the whole answer.

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    $\begingroup$ I made absolutely no comment about the OP's intent, except to say as clearly as possible that I assumed the parallels were unintentional. Even this post on meta says in the title that the parallels are presumably unintentional. So you appear to confirm that you did not actually understand the answer which you edited. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 8:37
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    $\begingroup$ @kaya3 -- I think the lesson to be learned here is that you went a little too far. I think it's becoming more obvious that what you said wasn't in fact as clear or as obvious as you thought. Lesson learned, move on! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas What's becoming obvious is that any amount of hand-holding and head-patting is not enough to overcome some people disregarding what I write and choosing to imagine I wrote the opposite. What I wrote was this: "I am sure this was not your intention at all". L.Dutch seems to think I wrote the exact opposite of that, and you think what I wrote could be interpreted either way... it's as if I wrote "the sky is blue", the moderator deletes it because they think I said the sky is not blue, and you are telling me next time I should be clearer about whether the sky is or isn't blue. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 10:56
  • $\begingroup$ Besides, if it were really a matter of not being clear enough that I do not think the OP intended it, then there would be no problem with me editing the post to add the sentence "I am sure this was not your intention" five, ten or a hundred more times until it was sufficiently clear to everybody that I'm sure it was not the OP's intention. That edit was not suggested, instead the whole thing got deleted, and the moderator says they "salvaged" what they could implying the rest is unsalvageable - i.e. no alternative phrasing or clarification could make it acceptable to the moderator. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ Let's address L.Dutch's second point too: they are saying that something is not a racist metaphor if it doesn't spell out which race it's a metaphor for. But metaphors are not supposed to spell out what they are metaphors for; metaphors are "between the lines" of a text. Think about this really carefully - if a story includes a race of hook-nosed, wrinkly-faced miserly bankers, do you think that's not an antisemetic trope simply because the author never identified them as Jews? If a reader identified that antisemitic trope, would you respond "hey, you're the one saying they're Jews"? $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ @kaya3 --- I just don't think we're getting anywhere here, sadly. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ The second point is quite subtle and complex to understand, but I agree, somewhat : It's not good to extrapolate too much what others tell, especially when running around subjective points of view (feelings, intentions...). It tends to intertwine people points of view together, creating something muddy that might tarnish other elements. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 21:33

Broaden your horizons

The question, while indeed rather less than well-thought, is not racist in any way. Or at least, not in the way you think.

Except possibly in your village, or in your province.

If you had to illuminate the parallels between the question and some unsavory racist beliefs prevalent in your village, or in your province, all you had to do was add a short statement saying --

Please take note that in the village of Podunk, East Mississippistan, and indeed in the entire province of East Mississippistan, we used to assign said behaviors to black people, whom we used to keep as slaves; as a consequence, nowadays we have in East Mississippistan a layer of insufficiently well-educated watchpersons who, with their narrow world-view, may make lots of noise about this putative racist implication.

The world is larger than East Mississippistan. Most people in the world have no idea of the bizarre racist and pretend-antiracist tropes of East Mississippistan. The world cannot cater to all the bizarre misapprehensions of each and every province, because there are so many different provinces with different bizarre taboos and misapprehensions; too many to avoid them all and still be allowed to tell a story.

Now, you see, I am a Romanian. Romania is a country in south-eastern Europe, or maybe in central-and-eastern Europe, in any case, a country on the western shore of the Black Sea, mostly north of the Danube. And, lo and behold --

In central and eastern Europe the behavior in question is not associated with black people. We have no negative stereotypes associated with black people, because we have no black people. The behavior in question is historically associated with the Cossacks and the Tartars.

Now, you see, the Cossacks are (or were, because there are no Cossacks left) actually white people, just like us. The Tartars, eh, they came from central Asia, but by the time they got around to abduct our women and rise the children as Tartars their central Asianness had mostly washed out. Their descendants are still around, and go under several different names; some do even still call themselves Tartars.

So you see, in the eastern half of Europe, the behavior in the question is reminiscent of the Tartars.

In western Europe, mostly in the southern parts, the behavior in the question is associated with the Moors.

In other parts of Europe, it is associated with the Norsemen who called themselves Danes and whom we call Vikings.

I am pretty sure than in very many parts of the world there are stories about the horrible barbarians who lived beyond the border and who stormed in from time to time to pillage and to abduct women.


It was a bad assumption that in the minds of all readers the behavior in the question is associated with black people. In fact, such an association is very highly specific to a subset of readers from your specific village, or province. On the other side, very many readers would have in their culture a reference to such a behavior, assigned to some historical or legendary barbarians; this is not a defect, but rather a plus, because it would serve to establish the plausibility of the behavior.

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    $\begingroup$ "The question, while indeed rather less than well-thought, is not racist in any way. Or at least, not in the way you think." I literally did not say that the question is racist and I do not think the question is racist. Is there any point in me reading the rest of your answer? $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ Then, let me follow your advice :D : "Please take note that in France, we get relatively regularly documentaries on the issue of countries spokepersons saying "there's none of that minority in our country while, hm... making it true discretly? And these countries... * inspire deeply*... include some Central/Eastern European ones". Sorry :'(. That sad part said apart, I doubt there's a positive cause-to-effect relationship between absence of minorities and acceptance of said minorities. In fact I'm more willing to say that their presence tends to help, if public efforts are made along the path. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 23:38

I'm fond of a line from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series of books:

You've come to the wrong shop for anarchy, brother

Here's the problem: social commentary has been the driving force behind social change since the dawn of time. The moment you ask people to stop writing about racism, discrimination, and/or marginalization, you rob the world of its single most effective solution to social problems. Personally, I think it's more offensive to invite people to be careful of what they ask here than what anyone may actually ask.

Can you imagine telling Alex Haley that the ideas he was working on that would eventually become Roots were "too sensitive" or too "racially charged?" How about Archie Bunker on the old sitcom "All in the Family"? Today his character (and the show) are so off-color and politically incorrect it would make people riot — and yet shows and books like them were part of the effort toward necessary and productive social change.

The fact that you have the sensibility to ask whether we need to warn people of potentially racial issues only exists because people dared to write about racial issues — some sarcastically, some realistically, some carefully, some boldly... all necessary.

We do not want to rob the future of its ability to address continuing social issues just because writers have been successful over the last two centuries to affect change. So, what limits should there be? @Elemtilas once mentioned that there shouldn't be any limits (correct me if I'm misquoting you, @Elemtilas!), but the Stack Exchange Overlords have put one limit on us: no gratuitous violence (especially in the form of torture). Thus, from our perspective, any issue... any issue... can be dealt with on this site so long as it's done professionally and, when necessary, clinically.


No. We're the wrong shop for that kind of anarchy.

  • $\begingroup$ OK, but I didn't say the OP shouldn't write about racism, discrimination or marginalisation, and I didn't invite the OP to be careful what they ask on worldbuilding.SE. What I did say was that there were parallels between their fictional race in their world and racist depictions in the real world, and invited them to be careful of those parallels when writing their story set in their fictional world. I then made a few suggestions about how to write about racism, discrimination and marginalisation of that race within their world. There is nothing wrong with writing about racism - far from it $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ - but if you are writing about racism, then you should know you are writing about racism rather than be oblivious and accidentally tell a story about racism that you didn't want to tell. Since there was no mention in the OP's question that they were aware of the parallels, I thought it prudent to inform them so that they could make a careful decision about how to incorporate those parallels into their story, if at all. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, I didn't make any statement whatsoever about the appropriateness of their question here, I did not say they shouldn't have asked it and I don't think that. If I thought there was something unsuitable about the question then I would have flagged it, not answered it. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 17:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually it's kind of ironic that you say any issue can be dealt with on this site (except gratuitous violence), because from my perspective I was raising an issue in order to deal with it, and a moderator decided I wasn't allowed to do that (in fact the moderator claimed it was racist for me to do that!). $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 17:47

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