Writing the “other” is something that’s not talked about that often. As someone who’s a Person of Color (PoC), I feel qualified to talk about it. Disclaimer: I don’t speak for all PoC.
People are afraid to write the “other” mainly due to the fact that they don’t have experience with it. Even if you don’t, you shouldn’t be scared to write about it. We live in the Information Age. You can easily Google a subject you don’t know about. Not only that, you can reach out to people who do have experience with it and talk to them. You can learn from them and get a sense of what they’ve been through and how they feel if you keep an open mind.
Even if you don’t have access to that information you shouldn’t let that stop you from writing about the “other”. If I remember correctly, a long time ago I read an article about Dwayne McDuffie and others. What I took from it the most was that back in the 70s and 80s there were very few non-white superhero characters specifically black and Asian. Those eventual comic creators grew up reading Luke Cage and Shang-Chi as that’s all that were around back then. A lot of those comics were written by white men. By today’s standards, those comics were incredibly racist. By those period standards they were also racist just not to white people. Actors and directors said similar things about movies they grew up watching.
Nevertheless, all those people were inspired by those things they watched and read growing up because despite how racist or sexist it was, they got to see themselves portrayed in their favorite medium. They all came to the realization that they had to do a fairer and better representation of their people. They knew they could do it in telling their own people’s story rather than some white man.
So even though the origins of what they watched or read wasn’t necessarily created for them or nothing more than a money grab into capturing another market, it still worked just not in a way that was foreseen by those in charge. It’s extremely unlikely that with all the access to information today that you’ll inspire people to do what McDuffie and others did, but you never know.
Just because you choose to write the “other” doesn’t mean you should write them in a favorable light. We’re not all good people. You don’t want to write the Magical Negro. However, when every PoC is written or shown in a negative light you should write them in a positive light. It’s to counterbalance the pendulum, which has to swing heavily the other way for balance. And eventually it goes back and forth until it settles in a fair and balanced way. That will take awhile though.
People complain about diversity today when it’s shown in movies and TV. See Wonder Woman and Doctor Who. Spider-Man: Homecoming recently came out and before then people whined about all the PoC in the casting. And they whined about it after. I loved the casting, but not the movie. As a side note, they went way too out of the way to not be like Raimi’s movies, I didn’t want to see Spidey in an Iron Man suit, and Iron Man’s presence was way bigger than Uncle Ben’s who didn’t get mentioned once. One of the reasons, I loved the casting is because that’s how major cities are these days.
I’ve lived in California most of my life and it’s very diverse. All coastal states in United States are far more diverse than those in the middle. But the diversity is slowly creeping its way to the middle. What I liked about Homecoming’s casting is that they didn’t go out of their way to reference it. It just was. And that’s how it is in real life. If you don’t live in or near a major city, you’ll notice it when you’re on vacation. But of course, everyone is visiting that place. Just explore the city a little bit and you’ll see it. One of the reasons I love the Fast and Furious movies is that it’s the same way.
I hate it when there’s a cast of mostly white males, one black character, one or two females, and maybe one brown character. Stuff like that makes the minorities stand out. It also doesn’t help that those PoC characters are either one dimensional or stuck in a stereotypical role. They’re not people. They’re caricatures.
Don’t be afraid to write the “other.” I’m not a woman. Hell, I don’t even have a woman. But a lot of my stories have women in them especially my non-Hellsfire stories. Since I sometimes struggle with things, I hired a woman editor to help me. And I’ve learned a lot from her just by listening to her point of view. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either. You don’t need to do this on your own.