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
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.
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!!!
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.
I’m going to be really tricky here and give this some rules too.
- Not delegated to funny/unattractive sidekick
- The plot doesn’t center around losing weight/ self-hatred
- Doesn’t lose weight and magically become beautiful/happy/ self-fulfilled
- Isn’t always thinking about food/being hungry
- NOT A PUNCHLINE
There, did I miss anything?
I’ve mentioned this before, 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.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t think I can recall a single YA/NA book featuring a deaf or HoH (hard of hearing) character except for Soundless 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!