4/18/18

Diversity in YA: Why We Need It


        I stood on the edge of the sidewalk, admiring the view of our downtown. It was a warm Friday night, fairylights that hung along doorways of shops twinkled, street lights cast a warm glow on the streets and the cars passing, smells of cinnamon and apple pie drifted from nearby bakery shops.

         I am not a city person, but if I had to live in town, I decided, it would be here.

        My favorite thing about downtown is the people, children dashing down the sidewalk, parents close on their heels, trying to get them to slow down and apologizing to the people their children nearly run over. Couples laughing and holding hands as they peer into windows of shops. Elderly people greeting old friends.

         As I watched the crowd, I started to notice something, most of the couples were interracial. I was admiring a couple as they walked by, they were both very attractive and they complimented each other greatly. He was Korean, she was black. His arm was around her, and they were laughing. They looked so content that I smiled, I hoped that one day I’d find someone to laugh with like that.

       Then I started to notice the other couples, I admired how they contrasted and complimented each other, how their skin tones right beside each other seemed to glow.

          Families of different ethnicities walked together, their children playing and talking to one another.

 It was beautiful, effortless.  

The way it’s suppose to be. 

           The world is too beautiful to just be one color. It wasn't meant to be one color, our differences are wonderful. 

So why do so many authors seem to forget this?

             Guys, not everyone is white. Newsflash. But so often I read books and there are only white characters.

              Is there anything wrong with white characters? No, of course not! But it saddens me to think that some writers are still thinking inside the white-washed box of stereotypes.

              It also saddens me that books with main characters that aren't white or even ones with a few non-white side characters are considered unique.

             Look, I'm a white girl, I have curly brown hair, brown eyes, I'm short, and I'm clumsy as well as a bit quirky, asides from being homeschooled, Christian, and conservative, it's not that hard to find a character that I can relate to in looks and struggles. 

            Four of my younger siblings are Hispanic, how many books with a Hispanic MC or a side character can you name from the top of your head from your local library?
             I am not saying that you should force your cast of characters to be racially mixed, or that you should go all out with a story about a character fighting modern racism, but just know that there are other stories to be told.

             Different voices to be heard, and different eyes to see through. It has been proven that reading books can increase empathy (read all about that study here.) it's so important to have diversity in books. 

             Books helped me when I felt invisible, when I read about girls like me I felt heard and understood. EVERYONE should be able to feel that way when reading. 

           Sometimes it's hard to realize that there is a lack if it doesn't necessarily effect you, but just because you live in a nice house doesn't mean nobody else is homeless. 

            The world is too beautiful to just be the same or to just be one color, so why make your books just one color?
       *From pinterest, all credit to the original creator. 


What are your thoughts on racial diversity in books?

Happy Writing,