8 types of diversity books need more of

8 types of diversity books need more of

What do we want? DIVERSITY! When do we want it? NOW!

I know, isn’t my rally chant super original? But hey, it gets the message across, and that’s all you can ask from me at this point. Honestly, you’re lucky I’m still able to string four words together semi-coherently anymore.

I feel like I need to rant. And like I need to make a list. And like I need to talk about diversity. So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to do all 3! Aren’t I clever? Today’s post is ALL about diversity…but not just general, ‘oh hey, that diversity stuff is cool’, but really detailed-this-is-specifically-what-I-want-and-I’m-going-to-scream-until-I-get-it type of diversity. Because we want specifics. And yes. We want it NOW.

8 TYPES OF DIVERSITY WE NEED MORE OF

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Mexican Characters

Yup. Of course, we all want more stories that feature ALL sorts of different races and ethnicities and cultures. I’m definitely not discounting that. But if we’re going by just ME and MY wants and what’s going to make ME smile and do my famous Happy Dance, then I’m going to be selfish and say that I specifically want more Mexican characters. Yes, I want more Hispanic/Latinx characters in general ( Cuba, Peurto Rico, South America, Central America, Dominican Republican, etc.), but if I’m going to be really specific (which I am), I’m going to pull the ME card and say I want to read more stories that relate to ME. So…Mexicans please. And not always in poor neighborhoods with strict, unforgiving parents and a cousin with a drug problem. UGH. I’m over that stereotype.

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Ace Characters

Specifically speaking, ace characters that are still in some sort of romantic relationship. It’s almost as though even the LGBT+ community can’t fathom being with a partner and not wanting sex. Clean romances and romantic novels where the subject of sex simply don’t come up are a complete cop out. I want the characters that specifically talk about being asexual, and it’s openly recognized for what it is. It doesn’t need to be the central focus of the plot (which I’d actually prefer), but it’d be nice if it was simply acknowledged. I’ve know recently there have been a few contemporaries released in 2017 with these types of characters and it’s SO exciting, but I’m going to be greedy and say I want more, AND in non contemporary settings. DO MY BIDDING!!!

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Mixed Race Couples

You’d think by 2018 we’d be seeing more of this by now. And yet, here we are. Once again, I’m talking outside of contemporaries, and no offensive language like “half-breed”. Is there a struggle to explore? Sure. But just like everything else, sometimes we just get tired of every story being ABOUT these issues. I haven’t seen the new Disney film ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ yet, but I was very excited to see that in the preview the main character, a young black girl, has a white father, and it absolutely isn’t made an issue of.

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Overweight Characters

I’m going to be really tricky here and give this some rules too.

  1. Not delegated to funny/unattractive sidekick
  2. The plot doesn’t center around losing weight/ self-hatred
  3. Doesn’t lose weight and magically become beautiful/happy/ self-fulfilled
  4. Isn’t always thinking about food/being hungry
  5. NOT A PUNCHLINE

There, did I miss anything?

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Religious Characters

I’ve mentioned thisย before,ย and I’ll mention it again: Religious representation is important!

Religion is tricky. Religion is sensitive. Religion is often painful, confusing and complicated. Yes. These things are all true. But religion is also hopeful. It’s culture and questions and love. It’s SO many different things to different people, and there literally thousands of religions to explore. Like it or not, religion is a huge aspect of our world and affects millions of people every day. If writers need to step up in their portrayals of minorities in their writing, they hold the same responsibility to stop the demonization of all things faith-based as well. Show the different sides, tell the bad stories along with the good, explore its darker deeds, yes. But don’t let that be all that’s shown. Like everything else in the world, religion is not a monolith. It’s time we stopped treating it like one.

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Blended Cultures

Are we sensing a theme here?

I’m the daughter of an immigrant. I’m also married to one. Yeah, this is all about ME again, are you surprised?

I live in the United States, or, the “melting pot” as I was once taught in second grade it had been affectionately referred to at one time in history. It’s a country of immigrants, of people JUST like me and the people I care about. I know not every novel is set in America, but are you really trying to tell me that people don’t immigrate ANYWHERE ELSE? No. And that’s not the point. The point is I want more immigrant characters, and what that means to blend cultures and customs, and it’s very important I get what I want right this second. So let’s make this happen.

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Biracial Characters

Hey, have I mentioned the fact that I’m biracial? Because in case you missed it the first three million times I mentioned it, let me belt it out again.

I’M BIRACIAL

There, we all cool?

I know this might not seem like a big deal, and I know that a large number of people of Mexican descent identify as biracial. I’m not exactly an anomaly in that regard. But I don’t care. Cultural pride and ethnic identity is something I struggle with and am learning how it fits into my everyday life and what it means to me. Not to get into my life story (but now it seems I will anyway, aren’t you lucky?) I grew up with a very “white” culture, though of course still subconsciously influenced by my NON-white parent. Of my sisters, I have the palest skin, hair, and eyes. I only speak English. Two years ago I married a 100% pureblood Mexican man with a deep appreciation for his heritage.

Simply put, it’s complicated. I want more characters also dealing with those complications. A lot of the time these types of stories lend themselves to “wanting to honor the ‘old’ traditions while balancing the desire of being white’, and it’s tiresome. Not every biracial person HAS those ties to the culture of their parents, and trying to piece yourself together and understand how and where exactly you fit can be extremely alienating.

Deaf/HoH Characters

I don’t think I can recall a single YA/NA book featuring a deaf or HoH (hard of hearing) character except for Soundlessย by Richelle Mead, which came with a slew of ableist, problematic issues. Because this is considered an “invisible disability”, I have to wonder if that’s a part of the reason why it’s so often forgotten or ignored when I’m perusing list after list of diverse characters we need more of. But it’s still there, and people in the deaf community literally come from all walks of life! Why is this not being written more???

So there we have it people. My super awesome list of very-specific-things-I-want, and now that it’s out there in the universe there’s no excuse for all of these things not to become a reality. So let’s get going. There are literally thousands of books published every year, surely my teeny few requests aren’t THAT crazy?

What specific types of diversity do you want to see more in novels? Anything we agree on? Share your book recs!

15 Comments

  1. Oh this post is fantastic and I love all of your points here! I agree that we do need more ace characters in books, that is cruelly missing, that’s for sure. Yes to religious and overweight characters as well, we see soooo little of these in our books. Basically, yes to ALL THE THINGS HERE. <3 I hope the writers Gods hear you haha ๐Ÿ™‚ Fantastic post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Author

      Haha, I hope they do too! Sometimes I wonder if I’m being overly picky and specific, and then I remember HOW MANY books are published every year and I’m like…nah. Gimme what I want ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m really happy there’s such an upswing lately in including diverse characters, but we need MORE!

  2. This is such an awesome post! Because I agree, there are SO few books with the representation you’ve mentioned. I read a book recently with a mixed race couple (and a biracial child produced from said relationship) and it struck me how glaringly rare it was to see, and WHY?! Honestly, all of these are just… WHY, this rep is so necessary! Hopefully you will get to see ALL of these, and soon!

    1. Author

      Right??? I actually never really thought about the lack of biracial representation until (ironically) people started discussing it when the film Big Hero 6 came out. And it just…kind of blew my mind. Like, WHY did I not notice that? And why aren’t people begging for it! I’m glad you liked my post, maybe once we start talking about it loud enough writers and publishers will take notice ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. 1) I was perhaps way too excited to see you use Elsa as your Ace Characters illustration, because I hear a lot of voices that be all, “Give Elsa a girlfriend!” and I’m over here like, “Sure, but… hear me out… she maybe reads more ace to me than anything?” (Not that we aces can’t have girlfriends/boyfriends; just saying that there are more ways than lesbian to be a queer girl.)

    2) YES, more stories featuring overweight characters who get a plot beyond the overdone usual would be AWESOME. Cosigned. Seconded. A-to-the-men.

    3) Would it also be possible to have more books starring character who (*ducks flying rocks*) don’t like to read? I GET IT, we writers love books, so it’s only natural that many of our imaginary children do, too. But… not everybody’s like that. Not even everybody who happens to be reading the book will be like that. Let’s not alienate those readers by only ever showing love to bibliophile MCs.

    1. Author

      Haha, I’m happy you caught that! Not sure if anyone else did but I admit that was my own little nod to the whole Elsa controversy ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not that I’d be super heartbroken if she found a girlfriend, but dang it would be sooooooo nice if she remained single! Maybe find a best friend! Since the first movie was all about sisterly love, how about some friendship love too <3

      Omg, the book thing! I actually agree with you on that one! I think it bothers me though because it's always made out like the MC is the ONLY one who likes to read and no one else does because they're "stupid" or into shallow things or whatever. It plays into that whole "not like other girls" trope which is SO overdone.

  4. Ahhh THANK YOU for this post!

    I would definitely love to see Mexican characters, too–the last one I recall reading about were the dudes from the Perfect Chemistry trilogy. I ~think~ they were Mexican. It’s been so long since I read those that I totally forgot. Of course, if we’re talking about MY wants, I would love to read about more Chinese characters, and Filipino characters. Chinese, I’m seeing more of now, which is great. But Filipinos? Nuh-uh. When there are Filipino characters, they’re usually sidetracked and are just the best friend, or some random person passing by. :/

    I would love to read about Ace characters and Deaf ones, simply because there aren’t enough. I’ve never met an Ace person in my life yet, so it would be amazing to read a book that represents them, so that I can get to know them more. And I’ve read a few books with mute characters, and only Soundless for deaf characters (although I’m not sure if that really counts tbh).

    Awesome post as usual, Rebeccah!

    1. Author

      Thank you Aimee!!

      Yes to Filipino characters! I feel like I’ve been seeing a rise in Chinese and Japanese characters (not a lot, but at least a couple that stick out in my memory), but you’re right, NO Filipino characters. What’s up with that?? Though I admit I’m guilty of this too as one of my fantasy WIPS is heavily Chinese influenced. Maybe it’s because it’s already more prevalent in media so people are more drawn to it because it’s familiar?

      And personally, the premise of Soundless really put me off…a village of deaf people, yet the one who saves the day is the only one who can suddenly hear? It makes me sad because it’s the only book prominently featuring deaf characters that I’ve ever heard of it, but it doesn’t seem like the best representation.

  5. This is such a great post! And I really appreciate your perspectives – you are definitely in a unique position to appreciate what groups diverse books are neglecting.

    If you’re looking for more books on deaf characters, “Of Sound Mind” by Jean Ferris is all about a boy who can hear who has been raised by two parents who are deaf. It’s been years since I read it, but I remember it being a very unique coming-of-age novel that I really enjoyed.

  6. Oooh. I love this list a lot – the only thing I would add that I want more of is trans characters too! Especially trans characters whose entire narratives don’t revolve around being trans.

    1. Author

      Yes! That’s the perfect addition! I just started a new novel for my series on the 1st and the protagonist is a trans boy, and the plot certainly isn’t fueled by that. He’s got witches to fight and a family to find instead. Hopefully I can help be a part of a positive change ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. As a half-deaf, english, non-binary asexual (i feel like the opposite of a stereotype or something) I completely agree about diversity. I’m white as well but that’s boring, all the characters are bloody white. I need more English characters though, and I need them to not be plummy and rich and attending boarding schools because I know literally no-one who’s attended a boarding school. I need more real English people!

    Vee @ Under The Mountain

    1. Author

      Haha, you know I actually never even noticed how EVERY English character always falls into that trope! I guess it’s such a romanticised idea that everyone can’t help but use it (especially with the international adoration of Harry Potter and boarding schools), but you’re absolutely right! More REAL representation all around ๐Ÿ™‚ Not everyone gets the charmed, privileged life and they’re still pleeeeenty interesting.

  8. I love this post and would love to see more of all of the types of diversity you mention, especially focusing on biracial main characters but not in the stereotypical ways. I’m also biracial Latinx with lighter coloring and have grown up with my own identity struggles with balancing two cultures, and I would love to see more similar experiences reflected in YA!

    1. Author

      I’m actually surprised biracial characters aren’t featured more in books, especially YA. There’s such a push for racial diversity, so what gives? I suppose I can’t be too harsh though as I myself still haven’t written anything with a biracial character either, but it’s definitely high on my to-do list!

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