Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Confronting Stereotypes: A Family Tradition

Maybe I am biased due to my lifelong love of the sport, but I believe that a golf course provides a wonderful backdrop for highlighting many of the issues that we face in today's society. Name a controversial topic and I am pretty sure that it has been discussed between swings on a Saturday morning. While spending time at the fictional Prairie Winds Golf Course that is featured in all three of my novels, my characters have confronted issues like marital infidelity, religious doctrine, a life-threatening illness, and alcoholism.

One of the important, and likely the most controversial, concepts that I incorporate into my writing is the prominence of racial stereotyping. Like my distant relative Mark Twain, I use distinct dialects and conversations that are unapologetic in their honesty in the hopes that my readers will reflect on their own prejudices or misconceptions. From the Asian nurse who struggles to overcome a language barrier with her patients to the African American small business owner who is constantly harassed by local government to the white suburban boys who have an air of entitlement, I use my characters to challenge our thoughts and our conversations.

What are some examples of stereotypes that you see being played out in the media today? Are there certain groups of people who are more "safe" to ridicule or pigeonhole than others? Do you agree that examining these stereotypes can serve a productive purpose, or are movies, television shows, and books just helping to perpetuate unfair ideas of people?

I want your thoughts on this hot topic! And, if you haven't already, I hope you will read Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course and let me know what you think of how I presented some common stereotypes.

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