I’ve been preparing to write my first discussion post for the last month. I had a safe but inspiring topic I wanted to talk about (that I still love) but which was shoved to the side due to the lovely May @ Forever and Everly, the Mango lover and Discussion Queen! Yesterday she posted her discussion before going on vacation and it really hit home for me…
(If you haven’t already then you need to read her post on why diversity is needed and wrong!) The thrust of her post is that diversity is first about representing ALL people. (I really liked that!)
Second that we need more diversity and better represented diversity. (A given!)
BUT May’s point was that it needs to be natural diversity and readers shouldn’t criticize books for NOT having diversity. (Again read her post, it is excellent!)
Judge the Book, Not the Author
A helpful diversity-loving book blogger explained the whole diverse movement to me (about a year ago when I first heard about it) and since then I have been by turns excited by diversity and totally disheartened!
There were strict percentages given (50% of the author’s blood MUST be the race in order for their work to be from a POC, i.e. an #ownvoice read) and what the author looked like mattered BIG time (white looking Hispanics without the proper amount of color DID NOT count as Latin – fact is these are Latin people with Spanish blood, i.e. from Spain and are NO LESS Latin!!) NOT everyone subscribes to this strict of rules when it comes to diversity, but the fact is many readers are weighing in on what counts and doesn’t count.
I’m NOT saying readers SHOULDN’T have an opinion!! Everyone SHOULD have thoughts of their own that add up to their own opinion.
It is my belief that the story should be what is judged, not the author. In other words if the diversity is A PART of the story NATURALLY then it will resonate with the reader. It won’t matter what color or sexuality (etc.) the author is because the book will BE SPECIAL due to how it affected the reader (the feeeeeeeelllsss)!!
I have a vested interest in this as a writer myself…
I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity, specifically how it relates to own voices as the two seem to be tightly connected. If you met me in real life you’d see a “white” woman but I’m actually a quarter Japanese* and have been STRONGLY affected by my mother’s culture and my Japanese grandmother.
*Why am I not 100% Asian?!
I LOVE Asia and the cultures to be found far and wide across the continent. A quasi-Asian inspired culture is to be found in my own fantasy writing as I have studied my own and other Asian cultures from Korea and China.
Unfortunately my book WOULD NOT be considered #OWN VOICE… why? Let me share the definition of #ownvoice by the woman who coined the term:
“Use it for whatever marginalized/diverse identity you want … and for whatever genre, category, or form of art you want. As long as the protagonist and the author share a marginalized identity.”
I don’t share a marginalized identity.
(mar·gin·al·ize v. Treat (a person, group, or concept) as insignificant or peripheral.)
People don’t look at me and SEE an Asian girl. (They do listen to me fangirl and know that I’m that odd white girl who loves k-dramas but I don’t think that “counts…”)
While I’ve NEVER experienced the HATE, I DO FEEL THE LOVE!!!
So what I’m saying is…
Some white people (me!!!) are writing about diverse characters, not to cash in on diversity but because they are a total fan of that marginalized group!
Readers shouldn’t criticize the amount of diversity in a story but share whether the book itself, the characters and the events they went through made us think about ourselves… made us scream… made us squeal in delight… In other words made us feeeeeel!
(I’m now totally nervous about my first discussion post! Please be kind but also honest… no offense was intended in the writing of my thoughts!)
What is your opinion on #ownvoices? Are you a writer blogger? Are you marginalized? How do you incorporate diversity into your writing? Was this post too much, too fast (for my first discussion)?