Before I start, I just want to tell you that this is by far the longest and most difficult post I’ve ever written. I hope I could get all my points through to you and I apologize in advanced if there are a couple things that don’t make sense or by any chance offend you 🙂 P.S. I’M NERVOUS!!
If you’re even remotely following the bookish community, you’d know that #weneeddiversebooks isn’t actually a new movement. It’s been going on for a while but lately, it became a really hot-of-the-press issue. You might have seen (or even be a part of) this ‘war’ about diversity on twitter these couple of weeks. I’ve actually had this diversity post planned for a while but kept putting it off because I wanted to read more books to support my point, but seeing all the buzz around diversity, what better time to post it but now?
Before we start, let’s define diversity.
Here’s how #weneeddiversebooks define diversity :
We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.
I should probably tell you that I’m Asian and a Muslim, which I guess makes me a part of these ‘diverse group’? But honestly, I live and grew up in a city where my race, religion, and ethnicity are majority, so I never experienced directly how it felt to be marginalized. That doesn’t mean I’m not aware of the discrimination received by my fellow Muslim person of colors out there. I know of all the prejudice against Muslim. The talks that we are all terrorists? Heard that a lot. I’ve also been told that I might never set foot in US because my full name is Islamic and It’ll be difficult for me to be granted the US Visa. Whatever.
The strange thing is, I NEVER cared about diversity before. Never gave it much thought, never even felt the need to be represented. I mean, there are always books by local authors that represent my culture and my beliefs. It never even occurred to me to want to be represented internationally. As in, in international books? I was intrigued to read more about people from different groups but never made it my actual goal.
And I Darken by Kiersten White was a game changer for me. It’s so heartwarming to see Islam was portrayed as something so beautiful and peaceful ♥ At that point, I was drowned in a moment of realization. I was like, “So this is how it feels to be represented in a book? THAT FEELS NICE!” I’ve been stacking up my TBR with diverse books ever since.
Not long after that, the twitter war started.
You might have seen people screamed for more diverse books and some even got to the point where they bullied white authors for not featuring non-white-characters in their books. Some defended the authors and said they should write what they know, and some other countered that with the fact that most authors don’t know how to murder a villain either, but they were willing to research that. Another debate talked about the fact that diverse books should ONLY be written by own voices authors but several inconsiderate people argued that white people could tell their stories better than own voices authors do because they are more educated and own voices books tend to be of poor quality.
I mean… why does that comment even exist?! That’s SO racist. I usually encourage any kind of opinions but this opinion is beyond offensive and the people who said that should just stop talking. AT ALL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much hate around the bookish community.
And I’m honestly fed up with those arguments.
Own voices authors could write a very stunning book representing their struggle because they know as well as experience it themselves. But does that mean white authors aren’t allowed to tell the stories? To me, the answer is no. There are always research. White authors could read books, surf the internet, watch movies & documentaries, and talk directly to the people who experience the issues they’re writing about. But for the record, white people aren’t necessarily more educated than people from diverse group. Education is contextual.
I’m sure it would be nice for ALL OF US to be represented in books, but that’s just not possible. There might be books that represent your culture but not your beliefs and otherwise. Authors could write what they know and feel comfortable about and we should respect that. I mean, would you rather see an author forces a diverse character into his/her story but gets it wrong and stereotypical just for the sake of incorporating diversity? I know I wouldn’t want that.
All I’m saying is that it’s great to want to be represented, but we should also respect whatever literature exists out there, diverse or no. If you want to read more diverse books, then I encourage you. If you don’t want nor don’t care about diversity, then stay away. There are more books out there about straight, white, perfectly healthy people. And if anyone ever feel forced to read ethnic literature, just remember that for years, people from diverse group has been obliged to read white people literature. Take it as a chance to get education and stop spreading negativity with those racist, offensive comments.
I personally support diversity in fictions and I want to read more books promoting diversity. Now since I LOVE LIST, I’m compiling one about why I need more of it ♥
- Every story deserves to be told. Stories aren’t just white people’s privilege. EVERYBODY deserves that, let it be black people, latina, muslim, buddhist, jewish, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, mentally ill people, basically all groups of people!
- Diverse books provide a realistic portrayal of the real world. I mean, not everyone is white after all:)
- It feels good to be represented in books. I finally know it does and I know a lot of people want the same thing ♥
- We want to share our stories with the world. Let’s face it, with all the prejudice against Islam going on around the world, I WANT people to know the real peaceful Islam. I want people to know then even we never support any act of terrorism 😦
- I want to learn more about people from different groups. Take me for example. I’ve been learning about mental illness and LGBT for years because I studied psychology. I knew almost all the technical aspects about them, but do I know their true stories? Their struggles? The way they deal with lives? Their feelings? I do not, mostly. Books help me understand a little more of how it feels to be in their shoes and that’s why I seek out books featuring these topics.
- Learn to empathize. This is literally the easiest way to understand other people. You don’t need to go anywhere, just sit tight and read. It’s literally the best thing of ever!
Well, THE BEST THING from all these fights for us bookworm is that we got a lot of books recommendation on diversity! Like, A LOT! Go check out #diverserecs on twitter and see for yourself 😛 I read a lot of diverse fantasy, but I want to read more contemporaries & historical fictions because they deal directly with real life issues. Here are some that I (haven’t read but) plan to read really soon 😀
These books are also my TBR for this week #DiverseAThon ♥
Of course as a consequence, my TBR exploded! I rarely felt overwhelmed by my TBR but I do now, especially with all the great books coming out this month :’) but I’m excited! I mean, look at those covers! Prettiness overload OMG!! See any books you like or would like to give a try? 😀
More posts on diversity that you should definitely check out :
- Jeann @ Happy Indulgence talked about misrepresentations of diversity and shared some of her favorite diverse reads on her booktube
- Josephine @ Word Revel talked about multiple ethnicity and its representation in fiction
- Fadwa @ Word Wonders voiced her opinion about the negative vibes going around regarding diversity
- Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews shared her view on diversity and some fabulous recommendations on books & booktubes
- CW @ Read, Think, Ponder talked about misrepresentation VS no representation and shared some tips on writing diversely
- Chasing Fairytales are hosting Diverse Books Reading Challenge throughout the year and has an amazing list of diverse books
- Other websites to check : We Need Diverse Books & Diversity in YA
Okayyyy, that was literally the longest post I ever wrote! I was also really nervous (haha) but I hope I didn’t bore you though 😛 SO, there are a couple of things I’d like to discuss with you ♥
(1) Do you feel represented enough in popular literature? (2) What’s your honest opinion regarding all these talks about diversity? (3) What are your favorite diverse books? And please recommend me some good ones! 😀
You could also respond to whatever it is I said above and I promise I’ll respect EVERY opinions as long as they are voiced assertively 🙂 Alsooo, feel free to link me to your own diverse posts or other diverse posts you love! ♥ Once again, I’m so very sorry if anything I said offend you in any way 🙂 All in all, let’s spread the positive vibes and thank you for reading!
Find more of me on my social media ♦