#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.

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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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7 Comments

  1. Yes, M’aam!!! I was lucky growing up, in that there were plenty of characters that looked like me. But my friends were the ones who were under-represented…and when I looked to them, I saw myself in a more truthful way. xx

    • “… and when I looked to them, I saw myself in a more truthful way.” – YES! True for me too, when I got to experience non-halfie stories. :)

  2. yogadog

    Agreed. May I add, I think the same is true of gender. At the risk of showing my age, I found plenty of characters that looked like me growing up, but they were all rather boring. The truly interesting stuff was reserved for the boys. I didn’t realize what an affect that had on me until sometime after law school, when it finally dawned on me that I kept dating the “wrong men” because I wasn’t picking men I wanted to be with, I was picking men I wanted to be.

    • Julia-
      You may ALWAYS add. :) And yes, absolutely! By no means does “diversity” cover ONLY race. It’s a whole spectrum — race, class, sexuality, disability, etc. I truly want everyone to be able to see themselves in this world. :)

  3. I thought of your post when I read this article: http://tinyurl.com/ku6qqd9

    I’m going to write a blog post about this, because The Movement could have been a better comic, too. Still, it’s too bad, just because so few comics are even trying in this area. The good news is that there’s a much better book right now: Ms. Marvel, which about a teenage Pakistani-American girl who gets superpowers.

    One of her superpowers is changing her appearance, and her first instinct is to be tall and blonde and blue-eyed (and in a sexy costume), like the original Ms. Marvel (whom she idolizes). This means that her strict Muslim parents won’t know what she’s up to when they see her exploits on TV, but I expect she’ll think more about the implications of that decision in future issues (the book is just getting started).

    • Thanks for thinking of me! And yes, I’ve heard good things about Ms. Marvel and the potential for exploring her feelings and choices in regards to her appearance and identity. :)

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