There has been a lot of talk in the bookish industry in the past couple of months. Certain announcements have brought in to question not only the diversity among authors, but the level of representation the characters written in the books by said authors give to everyone, which is surprisingly not that much.
Something that has rocked the blogosphere is the announcement of the BookCon panel (a sub event of BEA). Described as the “rock stars of kidlit” the panel consisted of while, male authors. To elaborate, no women, no LGBT’s and no people of colour. YA is absolutely saturated with female powerhouses (Malorie Blackman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Rachel Caine, Richelle Mead, Sarah Dessen – just to name a few!). To have no ladies on the panel is an insult to the people who underpin the genre and to have a complete lack of diversity sets a bad example for teens.
All of the response has made me think not only made me think about the kind of books I read, but also who they come from. I didn’t really know that this was a problem. I am the norm (white, middle-class and English as a first language). Only about 10 % of my books on Goodreads consist of people who are not white, straight and middle class. I never thought about how people of colour have to write about a white character and how people can’t get published because none of the characters identify with the norm. I was naive. I thought that books were sold and published based on the fact that they were actually good. I have found that this is not the case. If you head over to the Diversity of YA tumblr you will see how much of a problem this is. It is not a case of good content conquers all like I once thought, there is not an equal playing field. We as bloggers and readers need to actively seek out diverse content. Not only for the benefit of us and to inform myself but for future generations. The black guy can be so much more than the funny character and a homosexual male character can be so much more than the gay best friend.
Representation is important. Diversity is important. Everyone deserves the be the hero of the adventure regardless of their skin colour, gender or sexual orientation.
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign has had an immense response. There is so much buzz and talk around it that it makes me proud to be (an albeit, tiny) part of the bookish community. If you want to read any further, here are some articles and websites you can visit:
“#WeNeedDiverseBooks goes Viral” – Salon
The Official #WeNeedDiverseBook Tumblr & Twitter
Diversity in YA Tumblr
The Guardian on #WeNeedDiverseBooks
BookRiot has written a few articles on both BookCon and the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Here are some of my favourites (1, 2, 3)