The Importance of Diversity

If you’ve been around Twitter and YouTube in the last week, then you’ve probably seen the very heated topic of diversity popping up constantly. I’m not naming names or anything like that, but there was a very controversial video that included a lot of ignorant viewpoints on diversity and how it’s not “needed” or “important” in literature. That we should be sticking to a status quo of sorts when it comes to books.

And oh how wrong that is.

I’ve talked about the importance of diversity in children’s literature before, but this is a more general, encompassing talk today.

As a white female, I’m privileged. No doubt about it. I’ve been raised in a good home with a good family and have a good life. I shouldn’t have much to complain about, but I’m only human so it happens. I suffer with depression, and occasionally anxiety.

But there are things that I have been realizing more and more as I stay longer in this community: there is more out there than what I know.

Of course I enjoy reading stories about a white boy and white girl having drama, falling in love, and lots of kissing. Of course I enjoy reading about a white girl out to save the world. I can relate to it not because I’ve saved the world or anything (or have I?), but because I’m a white girl.

I’d love to be able to read books with black women protagonists who kick ass and who are confident in themselves, or books with Asian male protagonists who are both sensitive and athletic and might have a mental illness, or books about gay religious hispanic men getting their flirt on at a college campus and how they deal with their faith in all of it.

And I’m sure these books are out there!

So why is it that they never seem to “stand out” among the crowd when new books are being marketed to the public? How come it takes so long for these kinds of books to be raised to the surface and have people buzzing about them?

It’s like they aren’t going to sell as well because their main characters aren’t white.

And of course I’m not saying this is the case for all books and situations!

But every voice deserves to be heard. Every person of color, every disabled person, every religion, sexuality, gender, situation, mental illness: it all deserves to be heard. It all deserves to be told.

So why do people think that we should only be sticking to some certain status quo when it comes to books?

If I had been able to read a book about a girl with depression when I was younger, maybe I would have developed better coping mechanisms as a result. Maybe if I had been able to read a book about a girl who struggles with her sexuality then maybe I could have come to terms a lot sooner than I did. Hell, maybe I still wouldn’t feel so lost sometimes.

And I know that there are so many people out there of varying skin colors, genders, sexualities, etc, who need these stories in their lives. And when people say that diversity isn’t important, that it’s the “worst word in the English language,” that it shouldn’t really exist, then it’s like they’re saying that all of those people don’t matter.

And they for sure do.

So what can you do to introduce more diverse books into your life?

  • Well, there is a readathon coming up from September 12-19 that is hosted by four lovely ladies on YouTube (Joce @ squibblesreads, Monica @ shemightbemonicaMonica @ shemightbemonica, Christina @ Christina Marie, and Whitney @ whittynovels) called #DiverseAThon and there’s no challenges or anything, but there’s an optional group book they have up which is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. They only hope that you pick up at least ONE diverse book to read during this time to show support for the cause of diversity.
  • Challenge yourself to read at least ONE diverse book a month. And if that’s too much for you, then spread it out, but there are so, SO many out there to choose from.
  • Ask around! There have been tons of threads on Twitter about different diverse reads, plus there’s the infinite blog universe you can look into, as well as YouTube and other places. Ask around and you’ll find someone that has read something diverse.
  • Start with a topic that is important to you. For me personally, depression/suicide are very important topics to me, and I definitely want to read more books involving them, especially from the protagonist’s point of view. (If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!) But if you’re someone who is struggling with sexuality, then find a book that has confident characters in that sexuality that you believe you identify with, or if you’re looking for something that has kickass lesbian black female heroines, then search for them!
  • Branch out from there. The world of diversity is a hidden gem, but once you find it, it’s beautiful and it really deserves to shine.

Diversity is so, SO important. Don’t ever think that it’s not. Your race, sexual identity, gender, etc is not the only one out there; all voices deserve to be heard because all voices are important.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What kinds of diverse books are your favorites? Do you gravitate more towards a certain kind, or do you really try to branch out and read different things? What is your stance on this whole diverse topic? Let me know!

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3 thoughts on “The Importance of Diversity

  1. It’s so strange to me that there are people who don’t see the importance of diversity in books and popular culture. I went to an event at the Glasgow Women’s Library a few years ago where a well-known Scottish author told an Asian woman in the audience that the only reason that she hadn’t been able to find herself in books as a child (meaning she couldn’t find any Asian characters) was that she ‘lacked imagination’. It was such a dismissive and belittling comment that I almost couldn’t believe she’d said it.

    Like

  2. Pingback: September 2016 Wrap Up | Reader Rayna

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