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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.