Good Afternoon Readers 🙂

I’ve always been taught that if you have a problem with something you should first look to yourself for the solution (so that you’re not another hypocrite).  Now don’t get me wrong, I love books with white, straight characters too. Although, I do believe labeling a character as just white is problematic too, everyone has culture (but that’s a .  I love reading books, and I used to not care about the race of the main character but I’m getting older.

People change.  

As a person of color who’s a writer and book blogger and publicist who plans on writing and working within the publishing industry forever (or a very long time), I know that I have to make an active change. I can’t expect other people to do better if I’m not going to.

I’ve always been the one to argue that you shouldn’t just buy a book because it’s written by a person of color or features people of color, etc…because it’s whether the book is good that should decide whether you buy & support it, right?  (Yes.) However, I believe there’s a way to strike a balance. Still support the books you love and champion books with diverse characters & themes.

The Solution (not really…baby steps):

I created a Diversity in YA book list!

It will be a permanent feature this blog’s menu, and I encourage you to browse it and pick out a book that sounds interesting and read it. Just because a book has a queer protagonist doesn’t mean it’s not a good & relatable book.

Disclaimer: this is not a comprehensive list, and most of the books are YA Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Paranormal or Fantasy because I read a lot of that growing up and I could always find contemporary books featuring poc or queer characters or authors but never/rarely any in other genres.  That being said, I have and will continue to include contemporary books that have been especially moving to me or that I really want to read/think others should read.  Also, like I said it’s not a comprehensive list, meaning you should comment on the page if you have any suggestions (remember, I’m just getting started).

Below are some questions I figured people might ask, if you have others post them in the comments 🙂

Why are you doing this?

Haha. As one of the many loves of my life, Josh Whedon likes to say “because you’re still asking.”

No…but really?

Fine, grumpy pants…because I’m black, I’m queer, I’m a woman, and I’ve been reading & writing YA since I was a little girl and not much has changed (diversity wise).

Read the post that started it all: White (Straight) Girls in Dresses & read a follow up post, It’s More Than Representation: My Thoughts on the Lack of Diversity in Children’s Books.*

Have you read all of the books?

No, I have not, yes, I plan to.

Are all the books YA?

They should be, right?  But, they’re not.  I have a couple NA books & a non-fiction book (still for teens though) and probably some MG ones too.  Couldn’t resist, sorry but it’s close enough.

Does this mean you’re never going to feature non-straight or poc books/authors?

1. Would it/why does it matter if I did?

2. Haha, no. ‘Id never have any books to feature if that were the case. Okay, joking (sorta) but no, I love to read. I love getting recommendations from others and falling in love with those books, no matter the background of the character(s). All this means is I’m going to be more aware of “diverse” books and authors because often, with books featuring gay characters, for example, they get banned or shelved as LGBT before they’re even given a chance (when the book might not be about coming out/by doing that kids in the closest won’t find it because hell if they’ll walk into the LGBT section of B&N where gay erotica is also shelved). My motto is story first, if the story isn’t good, no matter how diverse the cast or author, I’m not going to give the book high ratings, I will however support the book because just because I didn’t like a book, doesn’t mean someone else won’t.  (This has always been my motto, which is why I discuss elements that didn’t work for me but might work for others when I review a book.)

What if I want suggestions on diverse books, want to know your thoughts on a book, etc…

1. You can contact me, always, anytime…I respond within 1-2 days (unless it’s midterms/finals).

2. You can check out these amazing resourcse: Diversity in YA Tumblr & Diversity in YA Website founded by authors Malinda Lo & Cindy Pon as well as #WeNeedDiverseBooks Website & Tumblr.

One of my favorite authors, Holly Black once said:
As someone who is not a person of color and who worries about messing up myself, I am probably the last person who should be giving anyone advice.  But I think that we as writers have an obligation to tell the truth about the world — and diverse world is a true world.  I also think that we have to be conscious of which stories are ours to tell, which stories we have points of identification with and which stories we need to do more work if we want tell responsibly.

What’s the last book you’ve read by a non-white author or featuring non-white characters (supporting ones count)? <–Not meant to make you uncomfortable (although that’s good from time to time). I actually want to know as, remember, this is new for me too.

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

P.S. Bitch Magazine’s series on Do Girls of Color Survive Dystopia is great, echos my sentiments exactly, and is where I got at a few of my books for the list from.

-Patrice

Written by Patrice

20 Comments

Patrice

Thanks for sharing, Kelly! The series is on my to-reads list but I didn’t know that, I’ll have to add it to the list 🙂

Reply
Andrea R. Black

Well, I would propose to change the question. Which books have I read with black female protagonist that isn’t perpetuating a stereotype? None…and the only author I know of is Octavia Butler and she’s on my reading list 😉 Thank you for this.

Reply
Patrice

Haha, nice…I LOVE Octavia Butler, I can promise she won’t disappoint. And yeah, sadly there are a lot of books with black females (even ones written by black women) that only talk about teenage pregnancy or sex the character up 🙁

Reply
Andrea R. Black

I would also take a look at how people of color are often supporting, secondary, side kick characters aka the “best friend”. It is an important note to bring up because all stories convey a subconscious message whether we know it or not. Okay I’m done 😀

Reply
Patrice

No, you’re fine 🙂 You’re right…probably 1/3 of the books on my list (maybe less) have the “best friend” person of color aspect which isn’t really helpful at all. Young girls need to know they can be more that just the sidekick.

Reply
Beth Fred (@bethfred08)

You will be happy to know that even of all my unpublished manuscripts, I only have one book w/ no PoCs and I think that’s probably appropriate for the setting. But I’m weird anyhow. I’m a white girl married to an Asian and I consider myself Mexican. 😉

Reply
Patrice

I’ve loved both of what I’ve read from you so far Beth 🙂 I think books should be appropriate for their setting, that’s why I have such a big problem with dystopian, and sci-fi, fantasy books with only white straight people because they literally have the opportunity to make any kind of world.

Reply
Beth Fred (@bethfred08)

You might like Chaste. The heroine is black. I don’t know if she is stereotypical. She does have some bad habits but I thought that was b/c she was trying to hide that she’s a preacher’s daughter. Her family is well off. She’s not from “the hood.”

Reply
Catherine Stine

As far as my reading other books by non-white authors, try The Color of Water by James McBride. Amazing memoir. I wrote a YA novel called Refugees, and one of the main characters is from Afghanistan.

Reply
Emma

I like Michelle Cornwell-Jordan’s YA Night School novella series. And she wrote a lovely gothic romantic tale set in New Orleans called Tourmentin, which I read a few months back. Michelle runs a blog where she reviews indie books. She’s a great supporter of writers.
One of my favourite books this year is A Different Blue by Amy Harmon. The main character is a Native American girl.

Reply
Patrice

Thanks Emma, I’ll have to check those out. I’m really glad everyone’s throwing in all these suggestions…I’ll have lots to add to my book list!

Reply
AllisonKT

I love that you’ve started this list. Question though: how do you feel about white people writing people of color as their protagonists? I am writing a book and wanted to make the family biracial just to mix it up. My great grandmother is black, but I’ve always been considered (and considered myself “white” (whatever that means!), and I just felt like a fraud. So I gave up the idea.

Reply
Patrice

Thanks Allison! So I personally don’t care (I’ll elaborate though). I know some people do, but as you probably know there will always be naysayers however if we only write exactly our experiences, nothing would ever get written & change would (at the very least) be slow to come…also, what’s the fun in that 🙂 I believe in the saying write what you know but in a looser way. For instance the main character of one of my WIPs is multiracial, she’s bisexual, and she’s the descendant of an Egyptian god. Now some of those don’t fit me at all, especially the last one but I do know what it feels like to be out of ones element, etc… So I focused on that. It would be different if my story way solely about her experience as a multiracial person but it’s not, it’s part Fantasy. To me the story is more important, how the character grows, overcomes obstacles, gains her self-confidence. Those are themes I think all people especially teens can relate to. So I say write honestly, and craft the best character you can…if you need to know more about a certain culture do your research but I think a lot of it comes down to how much a focus you’re placing on your character’s color. Holly Black, one of my favorite authors always has a multitude of people from various backgrounds in her stories because as she says in the quote below, that’s how the world is.

“As someone who is not a person of color and who worries about messing up myself, I am probably the last person who should be giving anyone advice. But I think that we as writers have an obligation to tell the truth about the world — and diverse world is a true world. I also think that we have to be conscious of which stories are ours to tell, which stories we have points of identification with and which stories we need to do more work if we want tell responsibly.”

I think because I’m a person of color, race has always been something I’ve thought about however I’ve also always wondered why it divides us so much so especially in my stories not set in this world, I do as I please to paint it how I wish it was. Let me know if there’s anything else. I’m definitely no expert (no one is really) so I can only speak from my POV but I’d love to answer your questions if I can.

Reply
Patrice

LOVE your blog, twin ninja turtles…what a great idea for a book blog. Let me know if you ever need anything, I’d love to guest post…you’re right we should definitely support writers like us it’s the only way progress will happen. Thanks for sharing it with me 🙂

Reply
yamulticulturaljunkie

Awesome I’d love for you to do a guest post!!!And I’d love to do a guest post on your blog too XD That’d be awesome, I’m really interested in your pov since your interview was so informative and I’ve always been really interested in your particular community 🙂 Please let me know when you’d like to be featured. We can definitely set something up

Reply
Patrice

Sweet 🙂 Feel free to contact me at patricecaldwell(at)gmail(dot)com and we can figure everything out. If you don’t end up applying to be a part of the Operation diversity blog we’d still love to have you for an interview or guest post. Send me an email, I’d love to set something up, thanks for reaching out!

Reply

Leave a Reply