Tag: diversity (Page 2 of 2)

“You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.”

An amazing anecdote from Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series:

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My favorite books of 2014

I guess it’s become a bit of a holiday tradition to look back on my year in books and pick out favorites. According to GoodReads, I’m “behind” on my reading goal for this year, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.

Thanks in part to the YA Diversity Book Club, I was exposed to a really wide variety of stories in 2014, and that’s a trend that I hope to continue, if not improve upon, in 2015. My nonfiction reading was down, but I did end the year with a really thought-provoking book recommended by Andy called MINDSET. (Which might warrant its own post in the near future.) And surprisingly, my audio “reading” may be on the rise, due to my realization that it’s much easier to listen to my iPod while walking Riley than it is to hold a book and flip pages.

Anyway, in order of when I read them, here are my favorite books of 2014:

Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1) We Were Liars Caminar Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3) Pointe Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3) The Walled City Landline Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
(If you’re curious, you can also check out my roundups from previous years.)

What were your favorite reads this year?

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Do you really think anyone wants to read that?

“How To Sell Diverse Books: A Bookstore Owner’s Advice” via NPR Books

Sometimes we’ll be in the store and we’ll see a kid looking at a little stack of books — maybe we’ve recommended those books to them. They might’ve chosen a book with a kid on the cover who has a different race than their own. And the parent kind of unconsciously steers the kid away from the book. They’ll say, “Oh you’re interested in that book? Do you really think you’re going to read that one? What about this one?” And the child hasn’t been aware of anything different about the book, but the adult is.

• • •

So, funny story.

The other day, Andy and I were waiting to be seated at a popular brunch place. We stood outside the restaurant, enjoying the fresh air and chatting with the other six people in our party. All of us were coupled off, but I happened to be standing at one end of the group, engaged in conversation with my friend and her husband.

Out of absolutely nowhere, this skinny young man walks up to us, grinning. My friend and her husband happen to live in the neighborhood, and just the way the new guy looks at them, without introducing himself, makes me think that he knows them. He turns to me and holds out his hand. “Hi, I’m Adam,” he says.

I return his handshake. “I’m Kristan.”

There’s an awkward pause. I wait for my friend to explain their connection. She doesn’t. Instead, she and her husband have started talking with another couple in our group. I turn back to the new guy, confused.

He’s young and gangly, with a sort of cheerful, nervous energy radiating all around him. He’s dressed like a typical student, in a loose shirt and gym shorts. And there’s a thin translucent bandage running across his eyebrow onto his forehead, but I don’t ask him about it. I don’t really get the chance. He peppers me with questions first.

“Are you waiting to eat here?” (Obviously.) “Do you know these guys?” (Yes, we all went to college together.) “Where did you go to school?” (Carnegie Mellon.) “When did you graduate?”

So on and so forth.

After several awkward minutes, I realize that my friends don’t know this guy at all. He just walked right up to our group and inserted himself! Is he planning to eat with us? Does he think the wait will be shorter? Is he just lonely? WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

As all these uncertainties are running through my mind, I’m also politely trying to keep up with our dialogue. At some point, he asks me what I do. (Writer.) “Oh, what do you write about?” (Right now, a fictional story about teenage girls in China.) “Do you really think an American audience will be interested in that?”

Somehow I maintained my composure and simply said, “Yes of course. Why wouldn’t they?”

He didn’t have an answer.

At that point, my friend took pity. Whether on me or on Adam, I’m not sure. Either way, she stepped in to ask me about my engagement ring, and soon Adam skedaddled as suddenly and inexplicably as he had arrived.

• • •

The funny part of this story is that (according to everyone else in our group) this guy was trying to hit on me — while I stood 3 ft. away from my fiancé? — and I was completely oblivious.

The sad part is that this guy was probably one of those kids mentioned in the NPR quote above. He clearly didn’t read diverse books. He didn’t develop a curiosity about otherness. He isn’t aware of how endlessly fascinating our world is, and how valuable it is to learn about foreign people and places. Which means he can’t fully appreciate how rich his own community is.

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks (and diverse everything else too)

In case you missed it, the YA community is spearheading a charge for increased diversity in contemporary literature. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is amazing, and you can find out how to participate here.

For my part, I’m tweeting and re-tweeting, and I’m writing diverse stories, and I’m now (as ever) sharing my own personal thoughts and experiences.

Last night, I caught a rerun of the 60s television show Bewitched, which I used to love as a kid. The hijinks of a witch and her ad exec husband — what’s not to like? Best of all, they had a kid. A HALFIE kid. Like me. And even though little Tabitha didn’t do a whole lot in the story, I adored her. She was one of the few “biracial” characters I knew growing up.

The-Bewitched-family-bewitched-2432674-495-608 cast Counselor-Deanna-Troi-counselor-deanna-troi-24182625-1533-2269

Other favorites included Evie, the half-alien star of Out of This World, and Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, who was half-Betazed. Noticing a pattern, anyone?

There’s more. My favorite Disney princess was Belle, a brown-haired, brown-eyed book lover, and my favorite anime character was Sailor Jupiter, a brown-haired, brown-eyed tomboy. No matter that they were French or Japanese, respectively. I was looking for myself in stories, and these were the closest resemblances that I could find. Not precisely right, but better than nothing.

BelleBooks tumblr_n1a05dtqik1re1kzio1_500

Now imagine a kid who can’t see herself anywhere. Not even in these pale approximations. The idea of that honestly makes me cry.

We need diverse books — and movies, and music, and teachers, and business leaders, and politicians, and everything else. We need them, and we shouldn’t have to justify why. The reasons are pretty evident.

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