Heyo sorry if you've answered this before but I'm on a phone. The narrator (a white female) in my dystopian fic has a best friend who is really smart but also sarcastic. I'm planning on writing her in as african american but I don't want her to have that generic "sassy black friend" trait branded on her because the stereotype(?) seems pretty stupid. How do I show she is not just a sassy-sidekick (bc she and my narrator are pretty much equal tbh) while still keeping that sarcastic element to her?
I’m not sure what you mean when you say “the stereotype” seems pretty stupid. The fact that it exists is stupid, or the fact that people still use it is stupid?
For the record, I am not a POC, but I care very much about writing diversity well, so I try to educate myself as much as I can. If you don’t want your character to come off as “just a sassy sidekick,” then make her more than that. She needs to have goals and motivations of her own. You need to show her look out for herself sometimes, instead of just being there to support the protagonist (which I feel should be true of any "sidekick" really). You also have to show that she has a range and depth of emotions, and she isn’t just there to provide a laugh.
You can also avoid tokenism by including more than one black character.
As for the “sassy,” part, I’m going to offer what I think is a valid point, but followers - please correct me if you disagree. I value input from those who know more than I do. If sarcasm is a means of binding your two characters together, I think it’s okay. If your protagonist can be just as sassy and sarcastic as her black best friend, I don’t believe it will come off as a stereotype. Where I think it can go wrong is if you’re showing your white protagonist as someone who is always serious and sincere (and therefore more thoughtful about her life choices, her problems, and her future), and then showing the “sassy black friend” as always joking, always sarcastic, and never serious or genuine.
I would also suggest you follow writingwithcolor. They haven’t been around long, but I have learned so much from their blog.