Descriptive Words For Skin Tones
The Anon asking about how to describe skin tones got a big response from followers. Here they are:
For describing PoC, I use things like “dark skinned”, “mocha” or “chocolate” toned, or find a color to use that matches it well, like “hazel” or “almond”.
What I’ve seen authors do is describe skin tones in terms like “dark olive” “caramel skin” etc. I would say do not use “colored person/people”, never, that’s racist, or so I’ve been told. If you are writing in a fantasy universe where skin color does not matter don’t stress about it just describe it like you imagine it :)
Honestly, when describing a skin tone it is just describing the color and comparing it to similar tones (such as in nature) to give a comparison. Use words like mocha, caramel, umber, tan, ebony, etc and elaborate on them if your want to convey a specific mood the narrator has towards the character (love/interest = +descriptive). As long as you don’t say something like “He was so dark he was purple, as if he’d just jumped straight off a boat from Africa”, I feel it really can’t be racist.
I think one problem with describing your character as ‘a very large black man’ is that a lot of times (in the books i read anyway) minority characters are just labeled as their race and the characterization stops there as if it describes their entire personality. for example you would never label a character as a ‘skinny white man’. that’s lazy and doesn’t convey the type of person he is at all.
When you describe a character you usually make mention of their skin color. if a character is white you’ll likely say something about how light their skin is or if they have any sort of tan. So why is it odd to call someone black when you describe them? I think it’s only PC to have a problem with this if the skin color is being associated with undesirable traits. Otherwise I’m more likely to think they are having a problem with an actual black person daring to appear in the story. Whether either is the case or not I for one do not think there are enough black characters in general. It would be nice if either people didn’t flip out about it the way they do or were at least more articulate as to WHY there is a problem with the black character being introduced. Just my two cents anyways.
Third Anon: Regarding race description: The fact that you “have to” state a character’s race is a reminder that we assume characters are white until stated otherwise—an undeniable and unpleasant fact of society. But you don’t want to avoid it to the point of it sending an “it’s shameful to acknowledge POC” message. Unless it’s in a situation where a /character/ would say “a large black man” you’d want to say it in a more passive way I think.
AND… this ask gets the last word, because it’s different from most of the advice above:
To the anon asking about describing the skin tone of PoC: try to avoid making comparisons to food. damnlayoffthebleach.tumblr.com/post/21722506311 <— those are some suggestions.