So I've been working on a series for several years, hoping to get a webcomic version of it started Soon™. For a bit of context, one of the core concepts of this series is the Darkness—an evil energy that possesses people and turns them into supervillains, amplifying their negative emotions and whatnot.
So then I had the idea to take a character who was already on the wrong side of the law and turn him into one of these supervillains. A wanted criminal who gains superpowers and becomes even worse. I ended up liking this character enough that I made him one of the main villains, and by extension, a major part of the story. Okay, cool.
Now, it's decidedly unclear what ethnicity the characters in this story are. However, my younger self opted to give this character a noticeably different skintone than most of the other characters.
...And I can't claim the decision wasn't due to bias about criminals and ethnicity, which now I'm realizing is kinda yikes!
So now I'm stuck with a bit of a dilemma. I really don't want to remove the character from the story since, like I said, he's a major part of the story. But it leaves me unsure what to do about his design. The way I see it, I have three options:
Leave the character as-is and hope I can include enough nuance to keep him interesting despite the negative stereotype. I could also try and add more positive POC characters into the story to show that it's not just him (which I'm thinking of doing anyway).
Change the character's appearance. I'd rather not literally whitewash the character, but it's an option.
Change the character's story. One idea I had, that wouldn't change the story too much, was to make him wanted for a crime he didn't actually commit... but I feel like that would raise racism implications that I'm not really qualified to talk about as a Very White Person. I'm also not sure how much it would matter since he literally becomes a supervillain regardless (though technically that's not his fault).
So yeah, I dunno. I thought it would be nice to get some other opinions on the matter. I can provide more context about the character if needed.