Orange is the New Black

I’m doing a probationary internship with, writing articles for them at a reduced rate.  After 30 articles, if I like them and they like me, I’ll write more for them, at a higher rate of pay.  My most recent article, “White Actor Cast As Iron Fist,” was about British actor Finn Jones being hired to play Danny Rand in the Netflix show Iron Fist.  Several Asian-American fans thought that this TV show was the perfect opportunity for Marvel to overcome decades of Orientalism and cultural appropriation by hiring an Asian-American actor to play Danny Rand.

Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, aka the Living Weapon, was a martial artist.  He was blond and blue-eyed.  After his parents died, he was raised in the mystical, extradimensional city-state of K’un-Lun, a place which only materializes on Earth once every ten years. From 9 to 19 Danny was trained, becoming the finest martial artist ever.  Or as Kevin Chow put it in Nerds of Color, another one where the white guy goes to Asia (K’un-Lun rematerializes in the Himalayas) to be better at being Asian than the Asians.

If Iron Fist is played by a white actor, then it continues a legacy of cultural appropriation.  If Iron Fist is played by an Asian-American actor, then he’s a stereotypical Asian martial artist.  Either way, a lose/lose situation.

I posted my article on Facebook, and was surprised at how many of my friends and acquaintances seemed offended at the notion of “racebending” or “racelifting” Danny Rand.  Iron Fist had been blond and blue-eyed since 1974.  In their opinions, he should forever remain blond and blue-eyed.  They didn’t know, nor did I until this morning, that there had been complaints about Iron Fist’s ethnicity since he was first created.

Well, had Netflix chosen John Kim or Godfrey Gao to play Daniel Rand, would it have been any worse than Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury? There’s been quite a few characters who were white in canon, but are now African-American.  Most of them were redheads originally:  orange is the new Black.

Nick Fury, The Avengers, Iron Man, other MCU movies  (brown hair or auburn-brown, depending on the artist)

Pete Ross, Smallville  (redhead)

Human Torch, Fantastic Four (blond)

Jimmy Olson, Supergirl  (redhead)

Aqualad, Young Justice  (black hair)

Heimdell, Thor (brown)

Kingpin, Daredevil (bald)

Harvey Dent, Batman (reddish-brown)

Ellis “Red” Redding, The Shawshank Redemption (redhead)

Little Orphan Annie, Annie (redhead)


Oh, yes, that is SF author William F. Wu writing a letter to Marvel Comics back in 1974, long before he was nominated for a Hugo.



“No man but a blockhead every wrote, except for money.”  Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1709 – 1784

For years I’ve been misquoting that as “none but a blockhead writes, save for the money.”  I’ve also been disagreeing with the sentiment for years, as most of the writers I know couldn’t stop writing if they tried.  However, as Stephen King pointed out, getting paid for writing is a very nice thing.

I am six articles into a thirty article probationary internship with, and I just got my first paycheck from them for last week’s writing.  It’s not enough to buy groceries.  It’s not enough to pay the water bill.  But it’s more than enough to get a tank of gas, and that’s something.  So far I have written two articles on LGBTQ topics, one on crime, one on celebrity news, one on media industry, and one on health studies.  Please feel free to share any of my Inquistr articles on Facebook or Twitter, or to reblog them.  When the probationary period ends, how many times my articles have been read and reshared will affect A, whether Inquistr wishes to keep me as a writer, and B, whether I’ll be paid at the higher or lower pay rate.

From least shared to most shared, these are my Inquistr articles thus far:

Early School Start Times Endanger Students

Sam Riley, Zombie Hunter: Actor Discusses Twist On Jane Austen’s Classic Character for ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’

For Rape Survivors, The Judicial System Can Feel Like A Second Attack

Danny Woodburn Challenges Hollywood Over Inclusion And Diversity

Will A Republican President Threaten Gay Marriages?

Gay Students In Tennessee At The Center Of Outrage Gone Viral

My most recent article, “Danny Woodburn Challenges Hollywood,” has been shared to a website called Olana, under the category Best Stories, which I find most flattering.  I’m not familiar with will need to research it.

As you can see, I’ve scribbled in several different categories.  I haven’t found any particular niche yet; I’m not entirely sure that I want to limit myself to one niche.  I’ve written about things that are important to me — early school times — and things that interest me — Pride and Prejudice and Zombies — and things that don’t affect me directly, but do affect my friends — LGBT issues.  I’m not sure what I’ll write about next:  Australian centenarian artist Loongkoonan or a follow-up on the lack of diversity in Hollywood with an emphasis on women rather than people with disabilities or why Donald Trump is a danger to this country.  I may try to look for a more popular trending topic.  Inquistr is kind enough to send me e-mails with analytics, and I’d be lying if I said my readership was high.  Nor, at this stage in my writing career, would I expect it to be.  I need to work my way up the ladder, and that takes time.  Writing what the readers want to read, rather than what I want to write, will increase my readership.

And lest I forget, thank you for reading.


Creativity, Ethics, and Fair Play in the Internet Age

I had planned to have my next blog brag about my most recent Inquistr articles (Sam Riley and Gay marriage).  I considered discussing the New Hampshire primaries, and how John Kasich moved ahead of Ted Cruz.  Then I read this article, and I knew I HAD to share it.  It’s important.

Kristen Lamb wrote a thoughtful, insightful article about expecting freebies on the Internet, and how it hurts authors and other artists.

I’m a cheapskate: I admit it.  I’m niggardly, parsimonious, a pinchpenny.  Free is my favorite price.  But I’m also a lifelong science fiction fan, and I’ve known of and accepted the principle of TANSTAAFL for years.  Too much free is bad for the economy.  As Kristen Lamb points out, it’s also bad for Art and Literature.

Mercedes Lackey, in her novel The Lark and the Wrenhas the heroine get reduced price music lessons from some teachers who believe she’ll value the lessons more if she has to pay for them, even if the teachers cut their usual fees to the bone in acknowledgment of her poverty, talent, and love of music.  Lackey uses a similar theme — that one values what one pays for — in other books, including Owlflightco-written with her husband Larry Dixon, where the wizard Justyn is taken for granted and not respected by his village because he doesn’t charge them properly for what he does.

In Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, by Alan Dean Foster, Princess Leia explains to Luke that she came to political rebellion by way of boring art.  Totalitarian governments must have censorship, because a painting, a book, or a symphony can be a manifesto of protest.  Under the Galactic Empire, art and literature had become boring.  When Leia found out why she was bored, she naturally fell into rebellion.  (Foster does not mention if this was before or after she was appointed a senator, although one may safely assume it was before, with her becoming a senator to further her cause by fighting the empire from within, based on hints in the radio adaptation.)

Art must be free:  free to shout, free to whisper, free to discuss any topic.  But Art must not be “free,” or not only will artists starve, but Art will fade away for lack of incentive.

Please read Kristen Lamb’s excellent article.

[Photo by Brett Jordan via Flickr Commons]

A Culture Addicted to FREE—How FREE is Poisoning the Internet & Killing the Creatives

I had planned to have my next blog brag about my most recent Inquistr articles (Sam Riley and Gay marriage). I considered discussing the New Hampshire primaries, and how John Kasich moved ahead of Ted Cruz. Then I read this article, and I knew I HAD to share it. It’s important.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image used with permission from the creator Ira Gelb. Image “Not for Sale” used with permission from the creator Ira Gelb who’s an activist in stopping Human Trafficking but authorized this image for use outside.

It’s funny, at various junctures I’ve felt propelled to tackle certain topics, even when that made me very unpopular. My biggest leviathan to date has been this notion of artists being expected to work for free, and I believe the reason that this topic is weighing so heavily on me is that, for the first time in years I’m no longer enthusiastic about our future.

In fact, I’m downright frightened, because of THIS.

I Feel Sick

Yesterday morning on my Facebook, a friend shared this open letter to Oprah Winfrey from a local performer in the Bay Area, Revolva, whose act caught the attention of mega-icon Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah was holding The Life You Want conference and the producers contacted Revolva to see if she…

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Early School Start Times Are Unhealthy for Students

I just had my first article published on, an Internet news aggregation website.  It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, as a mother and an ex-teacher:

Most American schools start too early.

Early School Start Times Endanger Students

Yes, I said endanger.  It’s not just an inconvenience.  It’s unhealthy.  It’s dangerous.

I wrote an opinion column on the same subject in the Millington Star back in 2014.  Unfortunately, as I was no longer the proofreader at the Star, they added a typo in the second paragraph that changed my meaning 180 degrees.

You can follow the links and read either of these articles, or I give give you the Reader’s Digest version.

When you’re a teenager, your circadian rhythms change.  You fall asleep later, which means if you don’t get up later, you don’t get enough sleep.  Approximately 85% of the high schools in the United States start classes earlier than the American Academy of Pediatrics says is safe.  This means American teenagers are risking weakened immune systems, weight gain, depression, lower grades, and more traffic accidents.  Schools that have set their start times later in the day have seen grades soar, attendance improve, tardiness decline, and far fewer juvenile traffic accidents in the area.