I don’t know how many of you have been following the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag on Twitter, but I have been and the stories and pictures attached–and the sheer diversity of people wanting to read more books about different races, religions, cultures, abilities, sexual orientation…
Diversity in life–and in books–is one of those topics that gets me fired up, simply because of my own background (Irish and Japanese) and where I grew up (New York City, land of Every Language Ever Spoken). My best friends are, in no particular order: black, Puerto Rican, Indian (from India), Jewish, white, Irish, Hispanic…
I read one book as a kid that reflected my background–I’ll post the link later–called How My Parents Learned to Eat. The ONLY book I read where the mother was Japanese and the father white American.
I’m writing a book where a white man has two daughters: one of them is white (but illegitimate, which is a problem in their time period) and the other is half black and half white. Surrounding them are a cast of whites, blacks, rich, middle class, slaves, free, Quakers, Anglicans…It’s not exactly New York-diverse and yes, there are a lot of white English people in it. I don’t believe this means don’t write about white people ever, by the way, but be mindful–and white, blond, straight, Christian shouldn’t be a default. They aren’t any more “normal” than the rest of us are “the others.”
My older cousins have young kids: my “nieces” are Filipino-Japanese, my “nephews” are Japanese-Irish (on the Japanese side of my family, if you’re curious). I don’t want them to not see characters like them in books and other media. I don’t want biracial kids to not exist in the world of stories. I want them to have their superheroes and princesses and others characters who also meld cultures and races and other differences just as much as my white cousins have had their princesses, superheroes, military heroes, girl detectives and vampires. I don’t want to hear people say that they find dealing with diversity challenging.
Tomorrow, the We Need Diverse Books campaign asks readers to buy a book written by a PoC author or with diverse characters. Show them we want it and we’ll read it.