This series includes some of my favorite images from the #weneeddiversebooks campaign, author/blogger posts, and my own insights (obvi).
In Part III I discuss current initiatives and what we can do to avoid the “fetishization” of diversity.
Warning: ink (or…pixels?) will be spilled.
In Part II, I wrote about the danger of distance and raised questions about empathy and censorship. Today, I’d like to talk about current initiatives to promote diverse books, and what we can do – as writers and readers.
The organization First Book has an initiative called Stories for All, which aims to buy more books featuring diverse characters. This happens through purchase orders in the tens of thousands – a larger stake for publishers, and one that represents a more sizable market than the traditional classroom order. It’s an interesting solution, because it empowers a smaller group to band together and have a considerable market impact. Read more about the initiative here.
Over at the #weneeddiversebooks campaign headquarters, you can check out the summer reading series. It provides reading pathways for YA/children’s titles – a “like this? read that!” type feature. I love that it connects readers through familiar territory, but I have to ask – are we going about this the right way?
We had our fair share of vampires, zombies, and now I’m ready for faeries and urban fantasy to curtsy off stage. What does that leave to be the next big thing? Please tell me we aren’t going to reduce diversity to a new trend….We cannot fetishize race, or describe their features and personalities with stereotypical characteristics. We must treat those things like clichés because they are. Describe characters – personal ticks, sins, hearts, souls, flaws – and make race secondary.
This is where I have trouble navigating. Is it inappropriate to point out diverse books because of the elements that makes them diverse? By identifying a text as a “diverse” read (in addition to or instead of a worthwhile or engaging read), are we setting up a “diversity sells” market? Or are we continuing the conversation about diverse literature by identifying new pathways to engage unfamiliar and/or disenfranchised readers? Personally, I lean more toward the latter – but I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Have more questions, answers, or reading suggestions? Leave me a comment!.