Diversity in Books

I know you all know (or at least I think you all know) that I’m black, African, dark skinned, colored – whatever you want to call it – and an avid reader of young adult fiction. I have participated and listened to people participate in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement but I thought I would share with you guys some thoughts and feels I’ve had about this whole discussion.

I’ll jump right in and say; my problem with this whole discussion/movement is that I’ve noticed a sort of cycle between readers and authors/publishers. From what I’ve noticed plenty ofΒ  authors/publishers have heard the pleas of the book community for more diversity in young adult fiction – so what do the authors/publishers do? They slowly start to incorporate more diversity into their stories. Now you would think this would make everyone happy but no the book community instead starts to criticize these authors/publishers, picking apart every little thing wrong with these characters. It’s as if this one character in this one book is supposed to represent an entire race. The message that this clearly sends is that if you’re going to add a diverse character in your story then they better be flawless but it impossible to please everyone. For example books likeΒ  Rebel of the Sands by Alywin Hamilton, Passenger by Alex Bracken, The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout even Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas were all books that were criticized for their diverse characters. I mean we should be commending these authors for even trying to diversify their books. We all know the young adult genre is dominated by white authors and most of the time its really hard not to stereotype a race that is not your own so I say bravo for even trying. No one likes being stereotyped but the more this cycle goes on the less publishers want to publish diverse books.

Now even after all I’ve said I do understand that some authors can be down right offensive when it comes to describing/writing about other races; I particularly hate it when black people are described as having chocolate or coffee colored skin (ugh I cringe every time!) no one wants to be compared to food. Another thing that really sets me off is when black people are described as being “African American” even though the character has never been to either of those places. I mean the book could be set in freaking France and the author would still say African American. White authors need to know there is nothing wrong with the word black – trying to tip toe around the word is just hilarious! If that’s too intense a word for you to with dark skinned or I don’t know person of color?

Lastly I just wanted to mention, diversity in books shouldn’t always be about struggle/oppression. I’m in no way saying that learning about those things isn’t important because it is. I’m just saying as a black teenager I would like to read books that are relatable to me. Some great examples are:

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11 thoughts on “Diversity in Books

  1. I loved this post and really enjoyed reading it. I agree completely that the ‘diverse’ character problem is really hard to solve! It’s so hard not to be offended by the description of a particular minority that I am a part of. This post gave me a lot to think about. Hmm… Anyway, awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m currently writing a book, and I’ve made it a point to have the majority of my characters diverse, and not white.

    I mean different skin color, and ethnicity (Hispanic, American, African, French ETC.).

    The only thing I’m afraid of is offending someone, although the likelihood isn’t very high. I’ve really tried not to, but I do have to get across what the characters look like.

    Do you ever get offended by a book describing a black character? And why? (You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly I don’t think I ever get down right offended when an author is doing a poor job describing a black character, most of the time it’s just funny because people try to make such a big deal when you could just say “she has dark skin”, the only time it’s offensive is obviously the food analogies because it’s kinda creepy (you know chocolate skin, almond eyes – that sort of thing).
      I feel like trying to tip-toe around different race is what offends most people.

      Anyway, good luck on your book (are you doing Nanowrimo?) I think it’s amazing that you’re diversifying!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cool you’re almost halfway to your goal!
        Yeah I’m doing it and my goal is the normal 50K but I’m hopelessly behind at just under 10,000 words so I’ll probably lose this year 😩

        Liked by 1 person

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