There is a microscopic possibility that the title of my post is a little…disorientating. BUT LET ME EXPLAIN! Because it does make perfect sense. Truly. (Everything I say makes absolutely wonderful sense, don’t even deny your overlord this truth.) I occasionally blog about diversiful things. I wrote a list of my favourite diverse books and also confessed why I’m scared to write diversity.
It’s a topic find very intriguing to discuss because I actually can’t fathom WHY a lot of books struggle to represent minorities. Maaaybe this is because I’m from Australia and every second person is from a different ethnicity. But why is it so hard to write about?! Represent all the human beans! Write relatable books! Talk about “taboo” topics like mental health so they become NON-TABOO topics as they should be! Discuss living with disabilities! HUZZAH!
I, personally, think that YA is getting better at representing diversity. Teens have different cultural backgrounds, a best friend has a disability, and OH LOOK they’re eating dahl instead of meatloaf. ADORABLE. It’s not that hard to find a book on schizophrenia or about Deaf Culture. Not every girl falls in love with the first strapping young white dude she sees.
But do you know what I want?
I want to read books with diverse characters where the point of the book is not about their diversity.
I want to read more books where it’s like, “And this is my BFF, Frank, and he has OCD, now let’s go kill a zombie and ride pterodactyls into the sunset”.
I feel like most books that represent diversity are all: “And this is a story about a girl with cerebral palsy and how she navigates life” and “This is a book about a blind boy and what it’s like to be blind and how he gets a dog and learns braille” and etc and etc.
“Oh, Cait,” you’re probably saying, “you fussy little platypus. You never want to read issue books then, eh? You don’t want to read about what it’s like to be deaf or autistic or mentally ill? WHAT EVEN IS WRONG WITH YOU??”
Oh my gosh. Chill you cucumbers. THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT!!
I do want to read those books where the diversity/minority IS the issue and IS the point of the book. I just want to read books where it’s not the issue too. And I rarely see any of those.
FOR INSTANCE…I want to more books like…
- Percy Jackson! Where 90% of the cast have ADHD and it’s addressed but not the sole purpose of the book. (Not to mention all the cultures represented.)
- The Lunar Chronicles! Where tons of characters are from different ethnicities (French! Asian! African! and…from the moon?? Like, don’t let me doubt the aliens. They deserve voices too.)
- Viral Nation! Where it’s a dystopian society and the protagonist is saving the universe like any ol’ dystopian, but also happens to be autistic.
- A Game of Thrones! Where the book is about power and manipulation and drenched in fantastical culture (AND DRAGONS) but characters also have physical disabilities and mental disorders.
- There Will Be Lies! Where they’re on a crazy road trip with psychotic parentage and cops on their tale and, by the way, the protagonist is deaf.
I want to pick up fantasies and thrillers and adventure books that have diverse characters. I WANT THIS TO BE MORE COMMON.
I do want both kinds! I want the diversity/minorities to feature in the book (because those kinds are usually better for educating my pineapple brain about these things) AND I want adventures and fantasy with those characters but with their issues as part of the story, not THE story.
Not too much to ask, is it? Pfft. OF COURSE NOT. And when the overlord decrees, it must be done. So, writers among you, get busy.