Diversity

Why We Need Diverse Books: The Push for Diverse Literature Isn’t a Trend. It’s Activism.

As book bloggers, we all have one thing in common: we love to read. Genres, writing styles, trope preferences, book formatting, reading pace, blogging pace – these are all subcategories that vary greatly amongst us, but there’s one thing common for all of us, which is our love for literature. You’re amongst the few people in the world who took their passion for reading, and stemmed another passion (or hobby) from it – blogging. Most of you started blogging because you wanted to share your love for books, because books mean more to you than mindless entertainment. Books hold a value for you. Reading isn’t idle consumption; for many of us, reading is a way of life. And for many of us, we all have that one book that changed our lives, or a book that shaped us into who we are today.

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“Fun” is only one of the infinite benefits of literature; cognitive functioning improves, and in many cases, books have deeply impacted society.

Literature has never been passive; it has always served an active purpose in society past “just entertainment.” We read because it’s fun, of course, but we also read to educate ourselves. We read to escape, we read to absorb, form communities within other readers as well as connections with writers. We learn writing techniques, gather a better understanding of other people with potentially opposing viewpoints, different experiences. There is infinite value in reading, and these are not idle ramblings of someone who enjoys reading; the activity has scientifically shown to increase empathy, and brain connectivity. It’s an effective way to combat stress, improve sleep (and sleep improvement further improves basically every facet of your life), can aid in improving relationships, all while making you happier (Source).

But beyond personal improvements, reading has clearly impacted society to the point where books have been burnt, banned and prohibited by people all over the world all throughout history. Whether it’s by uber-conservative parents who believe Harry Potter carries Satanic messages that poison children’s minds, or dictators who want to squash revolutionary ideology, books have always posed some sort of perceived ideological threat. And it’s because of these instances across our history that you come to realize how real of an impact books can have on society. Whether it’s George Orwell’s 1984 forcing us to think about overly controlling governments and unchecked surveillance that brought numerous thinkpieces to the surface when Edward Snowden blew the lid off NSA’s practices, or if it’s Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451’s subtle take on censorship and free speech. Whether it’s Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and its academic value in studying colonialism’s permanent effects on African culture, or Toni Morrison’s Beloved that highlighted the ‘legacy’ of slavery – these are all books that significantly impacted our society, and contributed for an ideological change that caused at least some sort of shift in the population on a large scale.

Even in your personal life, there has to be a book that impacted you so deeply that it changed something. For me, it was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky; I was a young kid living in Pakistan, and I had never been exposed to same-sex relationships before, or the fact of repressed memories and trauma. It was the book that made me decide that I wanted to pursue psychology in university, and here I am, one year from graduating with a degree in my hand. Sometimes I wonder what my life would’ve been like had I never read that book; would I be intolerant towards gay people like many in that society are? Would I have had an understanding or passion for mental health like I do now, since the society I grew up in still has a myriad of taboos against mental illnesses? Somehow, I doubt that I would be here right now had I not read that book. And ever since, I know that books have power beyond our wildest dreams. Most of us don’t even realize this fact.

One of these powers is the ability to increase, not only tolerance, but acceptance. And understanding.

Most of you have probably read and loved Harry Potter as a child, and though it’s definitely not a book without its glaring flaws, and I would never categorize it as a diverse book by any means, it’s still a series that has been studied widely because of its popularity and prevalence. In a study published in the Journal of Social Applied Psychology, three experimenters presented passages on discrimination from the series to subjects in the study, and found that the participants showed changed attitudes towards stigmatized groups, like gay people and immigrants (Source). The researchers write, “extended contact via story reading is a powerful strategy to improve out-group attitudes.” If a story has the power to improve out-group attitudes (meaning attitudes towards people you don’t immediately identify with, or people from outside your immediate community), then… this is a powerful tool.

We live in a world where fear-mongering has increased to the point where presidential candidates in seemingly ‘progressive’ societies are elected based on the promise of keeping people of a certain ethnicity, or religion, out of man-made borders. We live in a world where being gay, lesbian or trans can serve you a death sentence or give you second-class citizenship in your own country, where minorities in societies as advanced as the United States and the United Kingdom undergo systematic oppression, persecution, deep-seated prejudice based on color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity and religion. Police brutality and constant erasure from racial minorities’ own accomplishments in history is a relevant and persistent issue. We live in a society where mental illnesses are still used as plot points in horror movies, where suicides have risen to an unprecedented level, yet the collective population doesn’t want to do anything about it past tweeting hashtags. In a war-ridden world where children flee after losing entire families, as we become spectators in watching them die and drown, as politicians use them in their agendas, closing the gates to them because “refugee” has become a bad word. You may think, sitting in the safety of your home that times are better than they used to be, but they’re bad, and change doesn’t seem likely with how things are deteriorating.

Change begins with ideology; it always has, it always will. Women were largely believed to be inferior to men, which is why they were not allowed to vote and work. The ideology around this is far from perfect now and the fight is far from over, but it evolved, which is why change began. Ideologies do not change if you do not listen. Ideologies cannot evolve if you willfully turn away from the plight of oppressed individuals. And although I’m not naive enough to believe that books can fix all that is wrong with the world, they have proved that they can be used to change ideology, and push towards acceptance.

So, what’s the problem here? The problem is that marginalized peoples’ ideologies aren’t given a platform – change, thus, becomes impossible to achieve. The problem is lack of diversity in media, but for our purposes, more specifically literature. The very problem lies in the fact that marginalized voices and diverse stories can’t reach the audiences that can collectively inspire change. And the problem is also the deep-seated push against diversity – for whatever reason this is.

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I hear you talking about “diversity,” but really – what is it?

I’m no expert, but let me try and explain. In the context of literature, diversity means more than just one thing:

  1. It means giving marginalized authors a platform to write their stories. This applies to publishers, bloggers, etcetera, for giving marginalized people’s stories the chance to reach the world.
  2. It means reading books written by marginalized authors, whether they write about their marginalization or not – supporting authors of color, authors on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, disabled authors, neurodivergent authors automatically allows for their experiences to shine through in their stories. And it helps diversify literature by boosting voices that are otherwise repressed in areas of society.
  3. It means reading books with prominent characters with marginalizations. Reading books with casts of color, books with characters with disabilities, with characters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. The world is not white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical and allosexual/alloromantic. The world is a diverse place, so diversity in literature means supporting the diverse make-up of our society.
23% of the US’s population is formed of people of color and First Nation peoples, and this percentage continues to increase. Only 10% of kidlit contains multicultural content.

A significant portion of our population (and keep in mind, I’m only talking about ethnicity here) is severely underrepresented in literature. Look around you; the push for diversity exists because there is a lack of it. We don’t ask for more white characters to exist in books, because there is a 90% mathematical chance that if you pick up a book in the bookstore, the book will be majority-white, most definitely spear-headed by white characters and authors. We don’t ask for more heterosexual characters because the vast majority of storytelling is heteronormative, meaning that we automatically assume romance is between a man and a woman; many people with different identities are thus pushed aside. And believe it or not, this lack of representation can have significant repercussions.

Representation in the media is significantly linked to self-esteem.

In my previous semester, I conducted some research, and wrote up a review for my Psychology class on how racial representation in literature can impact minority self-esteem and self-worth. The issue with lack of representation transcends beyond literature; a study conducted by USC Annenberg evaluated over 11,000 speaking characters in fictional films, TV shows and series. The study found that female characters only accounted for 28.7% of all speaking roles in film, despite females forming half of the US population. Moreover, of all speaking roles, only 28.3% were given to racial minority groups. Keeping these statistics in mind, consider that further research has shown that women and racial minorities have lower self-esteem the more they consume media. In black children, increased media exposure reduces self-esteem, while in white boys, increased media exposure increases self-esteem (Martins & Harrison, 2012). This is perhaps due to the fact that white male characters on television are given positive roles – the hero, the savior, the good guy, while black characters are far and few in between, and when they do exist, they are often reduced to negative stereotypes. Black children, the more they consume the erasure and/or negative stereotypes, are impacted deeply by them.

What is self-esteem, and what is the point of increased self-esteem?

We often hear words like “self-esteem” in day-to-day life without realizing that they are scientific terms with scientific research and study backing them up. Self-esteem is defined as how a person views themself, and how they perceive their own worthiness. Self-esteem impacts many portions of your life;

  • Having a low feeling of your own value can cause depression, or increased symptoms related to depression.
  • Low self-esteem can have an effect on interpersonal relationships; people with low social self-esteem have more problems in their relationships with family, friends and romantic partners
  • Higher self-esteem has been associated with improved academic achievement
  • Low self-esteem youth are at risk of abusing alcohol and drugs
  • Research further shows that low self-esteem is related to poor heath, delinquency, and limited economic prospects during adulthood
Underrepresentation or negative representation can thus have serious consequences.

People who call for diverse media, and representing marginalized groups in literature aren’t doing it to be petty. They’re not trying to take the fun out of your reading – they’re trying to use books, which we all agree are a powerful tool, to make a significant change in society.

L.A. Spears-Bunton (1990) theorized that racial minority students read at lower levels than their white peers because of a potential cultural disparity between their racial identity and the books they are given to read; if this disparity is decreased or eradicated, it can significantly increase reading (and think about the positive effects of reading outlined above) in marginalized groups. Arlene Barry (1998) asserts that through multicultural literature, minorities’ self-esteem can improve as they learn about the contributions their culture, or people who look like them, have made, and are making, to the U.S. and the world. Multicultural literature can form a much-needed balance between home and the outside world; this balance can prevent serious conflict from occurring, and children are not forced to choose between two environments; rather, they can feel a sense of belonging in both.

Enough of the academic talk; let’s get personal. Seeing yourself represented in a book is a priceless feeling.

Aside from self-esteem affects and the societal social value of diverse media, let’s talk about how seeing yourself represented in a book feels. More often than not, we love things that we relate to. I loved Hermione Granger as a character because I saw myself reflected in her – she’s smart, she’s bossy, she goes by the rules, she loves to read. And I also loved her because she was bad-ass; she could be fierce and heroic with the same qualities that I had, and it gave me the feeling that I could also do what she could. This harkens back to white boys having higher self-esteem than other groups; all the major superheroes, people in power, the “good guys” are mostly white males. It’s not a white male child’s fault that he immediately connects to these guys, which causes him to feel like he can be heroic, he can be powerful, thus boosting self-esteem. But it makes you think, doesn’t it? That we all connect to media we relate to, and if all the positive roles are going to white males, what about the rest of us?

Now imagine you’re me. A brown, Pakistani-Muslim, fat immigrant who has basically never seen herself represented in media. Beauty standards are white-centric and thin. Brown, desi heroines are non-existent. Pakistani-Muslims are typecast as terrorists, and that’s all I see when I turn on the TV, or read a book. It makes me feel alone. It makes me feel like I am not worthy, that my identities aren’t worthy of being shared, or seen in a positive light. It takes you to a dark place without you even knowing it happened. Imagine that you grew up with nothing to relate to. That’s how many people feel, and I still admit that I’m much more privileged than many others out there- people who have never seen themselves reflected at all.

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For a marginalized child or teen or young adult- to see your story, your experiences, your life reflected in the books you read, where you feel like you have a voice, where you feel like your life story is important enough to be written, published and read? That’s a priceless feeling. It makes you feel like people want to hear about you. It makes you feel like you’re an active part of this society, that people love and accept you as a part of their world, and that you can do whatever the privileged in the world can because your story is just as important as theirs. You can’t put a price-tag on that, which is why the fight is so important.

Diversity isn’t a trend. Wanting diverse stories shouldn’t be a phase – it’s activism. It’s a movement.

A movement that has infinite value. Reading stories about different experiences will not only help people from that particular experience feel valued and seen, it will also help you learn. It will help society grow collectively towards improved self-esteem in youth, as well as empathy, tolerance and equality. Having increased books by and/or about people of color will not make books with white characters go extinct. Having books by and/or about people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum will not make books with straight relationships, or allosexual/alloromantic characters, or cisgender characters go extinct. No. The movement only calls for diversity – never erasure. And diversity can never impact anyone negatively.

Once you realize that diversifying literature isn’t just that one trend that people have been talking about recently, that it’s not just about the personal value of marginalized readers seeing themselves represented (even though that’s a massive, important, crucial component), but that it’s also about changing ideologies towards building a truly equal society, you realize the global value of the movement. And like you perform activism for environmental conservation, climate change, animal rights, charity… I hope you see the value in performing activism for this, and bringing about a change that is absolutely crucial on a large scale.

Writers: here’s what you can do to diversify your stories.

🌸 First of all, don’t believe it when people (or that voice in your head) tell you that diverse stories do not have a market. They absolutely do; the success of stories like The Hate U Give (which has spent six months on the top of the bestsellers’ list), When Dimple Met Rishi, and movies like “Moonlight,” “Hidden Figures,” “The Night Of,” “Sense 8,” and “Get Out,” goes to show that the market exists. People are desperate for representation, so your diverse stories will sell.

🌸 Research to the best of your abilities. Read books, hire sensitivity/beta readers, talk to the communities online, read other books by people who share the marginalization that you’re writing about. Nothing is worse for a person who goes into a book expecting to see themselves represented than to come out feeling disrespected, tokenized and stereotyped. Utilize research, and make sure you stay in your respective lane. Make sure your characters aren’t caricatures who serve as plot devices, or who can be replaced by non-marginalized characters without changing anything (that’s tokenism!) Make sure you’re not using language that you’re not supposed to be using (such as slurs). Make sure you’re respectful, always.

🌸 Realize that this isn’t a personal vendetta against you. Nobody’s saying you cannot write white characters, for example. Instead, you should think in terms of world-building. As a writer, your novel should sound realistic, and authentic. Is the world all-white? So how can an all-white novel be realistic/authentic? Realize that you can diversify your world by including peripheral characters, side characters, important conversations, all while having a white main character. You don’t have to make sacrifices. You just need to improve your storytelling, and diversity improves storytelling by making it realistic and reflective of the world we live in.

Readers and bloggers: the brunt of it falls on you. You need to do better.

🌸 Demand diversity. Let publishers know that you support the movement, that you think it is important, and let them know that you will buy diverse stories. There is a clear distinction between attacking and letting your voice be heard – know the difference, stay within your bounds, but be loud, clear, and proud.

🌸 Actively promote diverse books. Buy them, and if you can’t buy them, find them at your library; if it’s not at your library, place in a request. Read them, and promote them on social media – Tweet about diverse books, take photos, promote them on your blogs in lists. Review them on your websites, on retail websites. Spread hype. People buy books that are hyped, and if you hype up diverse books, that ensures that more diverse books are published. Be aware of this.

🌸 Boost bloggers who are from marginalized groups, who are proponents of diversity. Boost them so their voices are amplified, which will cause a ripple effect throughout the community.

We have a long way to go, but improvement is already visible. Join the movement; it’s more important than you think.

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If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate if you would consider sharing and/or buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi.com. Thank you so much.

kofi


R E S O U R C E S

We Need Diverse Books

The #DiverseBookBloggers tag on social media (Twitter, specifically).

The Brown Bookshelf

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Disability in Kid Lit

SLJ’s Islam in the Classroom

ALA’s Rainbow Booklists

Great Gay Teen Books

Diversity in YA

Rich in Color

Reading in Color

* If you have more resources, or blogs that post about diverse books and diversity in kidlit, please let me know and I’ll try to update the list as soon as possible.

Diversity Spotlight Thursday | #16

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

Hello, everyone! So, I know I’ve been neglecting this weekly feature for the past few weeks, and I’m really sorry about that, but there were several reasons. 1) I was on vacation in Los Angeles, and was so stupidly busy with family, which meant that 2) I wasn’t keeping up with book news, or reading. Which means that 3) I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I would have liked, and so I was lacking on recommendations for this post in general.

Now that I’m back home and am slowly getting back into the swing of things, I’m reading more and have been keeping an eye out for new releases. Hopefully I’ll be more regular now. 🙂


READ

25526296Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

This was a fairly recent read for me- I read it for one of the squares in the Diversity Bingo 2017 bingo sheet. I’ve only ever read one other book revolving around an asexual character, which was why this one immediately caught my eye. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting when I went into it, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s a strange mix of fantasy and magical realism, where teenagers who don’t feel like they fit in their mundane lives find doors or portals to worlds where they feel like they belong. Our main character is one such person who was taken to an underworld of sorts- but she was removed from her world and thrown back into our world. She’s sent to a school where teens who have gone through a similar process are trying to recuperate and get over their worlds.

The book definitely took a twist for the better; from a whimsical, magical read, it turned into a grotesque, dark read that never really left its whimsical tone. I flew through it – I’m pretty sure I read it in one day because I couldn’t put it down. It was far from perfect, but it’s one that I’d recommend to anyone looking for an interesting, fast-paced read. Also, there’s a trans side character!


Goodreads | Amazon

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28763485The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

If you’ve keeping up with my seldomly-updated blog (honestly, props to you), you might know that I recently read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. And I had very many problems; I don’t usually say I despise books, but Everything, Everything holds a special place in my “highly disliked books” list. It wasn’t because it was boring or badly written, or some problem or another with the characters; I just had many, many issues with the disability representation in the novel. If you’d like to read my review, you can find it here.

However, I’d still like to give Nicola Yoon a second chance- especially because I’ve heard that her new book is a massive improvement even from people that were hurt by the first one. The premise sounds interesting though it’s raised some red flags for insta-love. A girl, on the verge of being deported with her family to Jamaica, falls in love with Daniel- who’s a straight-cut teen who doesn’t believe in fate, whose plan didn’t include this. Insta-love is a hard sell for me, but from the reviews I’ve seen, this book apparently pulls it off. And I’m looking forward to digging in.


Goodreads | Amazon

coming soon

32075671The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has been making all the rounds recently, and with good reason. I was lucky enough to score an ARC of this late in November, and I started reading it almost immediately. It honestly blew me away. I’m always wary of books that have hype surrounding them, and this was #1 on the hype train for me, but Angie Thomas proved to be such a wonderful, poignant, empathetic writer. Her characters felt like real people; I grew so fond of the main character and her struggles, her relationships with her family, boyfriend and friends. I was hooked from start to finish, and it was a near-perfect book.

I’ve often said, with regards to this particular novel, that it’s going to be a game-changer. My feelings about that haven’t changed even two months after I turned the last page; this book is going to change the YA game, I can feel it. It covers so many important issues, like race relations in the United States, microaggressions in day-to-day life, socioeconomic status, racial profiling, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, cultural appropriation, the role of media and social media networks in crime. The scope of issues this novel covers is far and wide, and each of these issues is done justice. It’s truly a beautiful read and if you haven’t pre-ordered it or added it to your TBR, what are you doing?

 This novel releases on February 28th, 2017

Goodreads | Amazon

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Diversity Bingo 2017 Announcement & TBR


Diversity Bingo 2017 Announcement


Hey, all. Today I’m coming to you with an announcement, as well as a TBR. A few friends and I came together after the success of Diversity December Bingo to bring to you a year-long readathon, of sorts. In an effort to read diversely year-long rather than just reading diversely in a given month, we made a bingo sheet of 36 boxes, each box giving you a theme for a diverse read. The goal is to read 36 diverse books by the end of the year; hopefully, that’ll help a lot of us diversify our reading, pick up books that we may not have otherwise and come together as a blogging and reading community for a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

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My TBR


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I’m so excited for this event; it’s introduced me to so many exciting books that I really want to get to. I haven’t been reading nearly as much as I would like to recently, so maybe this readathon will get my reading back on track as well.


Want to Participate?


If you like what you see and are interested in participating, you can add a link to your TBR in the comments section (if you can, please link back to this post so other people can see the announcement!) I’ll add your name to a masterlist in this post. 🙂

 This TBR can be on Instagram, Twitter, your blog, YouTube- wherever, as long as it’s a TBR. You can also use the #DiversityBingo2017 hashtag on social media to see what others are reading and to participate in discussions and such. I hope that you’ll give this a chance and will help us make this a success. Good luck <3

 

#DiversityDecBingo TBR


The Readathon Event


Hey, all. So, if you don’t follow me on Twitter (psst, you should), you might not know that a few friends and I are hosting a diversity readathon event in the month of December. Called the ‘Diversity December Bingo,’ it’s a team-venture that runs from December 1st – December 31st, 2016. It’ll be a month full of diverse reads where you can read books written by marginalized authors, or books about characters belonging to marginalized groups, and maybe win a prize while you do so.

So this is how it works. From the 25 squares below, you choose one line – this line can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal. You read one book from each category in the line you’ve chosen, and once you finish your 5-book challenge, you’re entered into a giveaway. More details on the giveaway will be coming up soon (follow Twitter for more updates, or simply track the #DiversityDecBingo hashtag!)

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If you decide to join, leave a comment down below with a link to a TBR post, tweet or Instagram post, and I’ll add your name to this post so people can come find you. Also, you can use the #DiversityDecBingo hashtag on social media to keep track of others who are participating, come up with some ideas for your own TBR and keep up with all the awesome diverse books out there.


My TBR


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I chose this particular line because I have not read nearly enough books with any of these aspects; I have yet to read a book with a main character who is a native. I’m ashamed to say that I have had abysmal exposure to f/f relationships in YA. I’ve read only two books in the past with biracial main characters, no books with neurodiversity, and just one book with an asexual character. Because all of the books below are already on my TBR, I thought this would be the perfect line to finally get to these books:


With that, I’ll end this post. I hope you consider joining me in my very first hosting adventure, especially because it’s something I’m super passionate about. The other ladies who are hosting this with me are all inspirational and wonderful, so come say hi on Twitter (or here). If this goes really well, we’re hoping to do a bi-annual or annual event where we can get together and read diversely more and more. <3


Participants’ TBRs

BiblioNyan | 4thHouseontheLeft | What the Log Had to Say | Sprinked Pages


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Let’s Talk About: Literature Too Foreign

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Midnight in Karachi: How a Podcast Helped Me Put The Conversation of Diversity in a Cultural, Regional Context

The other day while researching podcast networks for my internship, I came across a show named “Midnight in Karachi.” It immediately caught my eye because it was a show funded and produced by Tor Books – which is an imprint of Macmillan Publishing – and yet, the host was a Pakistani-based young woman who interviewed a wide range of authors who write some sort of fantasy from her home in Pakistan. The podcast was mesmerizing in a couple of ways: 1) Mahvish Murad (who is the host) has one of the most beautiful voices and accents I’ve ever heard, and 2) she interviews wildly popular authors with such poise and grace, making it so that it doesn’t even feel like an interview- but rather a conversation among two friends about writing, the craft, the books and the audiences. Her credentials include authors like Victoria Schwab, Margaret Atwood, M.R. Carey and Patrick Ness.

While listening to a bunch of her episodes in succession, I came across two South Asian authors, both of whom said profound things that put the conversations about diversity in a personal context for me. One of these authors was Sami Shah, a Pakistani author whose book Fire Boy was recently released by an Australian indie publisher- a book I read and reviewed. The other author was Indra Das, whose book The Devourers is also a relatively new release published by Random House. And both of these authors had startlingly similar experiences with the publishing process.

Both Shah and Das wrote books set in a “foreign” land. Shah’s story is an urban fantasy set in Karachi, Pakistan which wields Islamic and South Asian folklore, while Das’s story is an urban fantasy set in New Delhi, India and involves Indian/Hindu mythology. Both of these authors wrote “foreign” books – I hate using that word, but I understand that this is how their work can be categorized. Both authors sent their manuscripts to publishers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. And here’s the deal- they faced an alarming amount of rejection, but not because their books were bad- in fact, the publishers insisted that they quite liked their books, but they couldn’t find a market because the books were too foreign.


The Meaning of Foreign: Where People Are More Comfortable Reading The Lord of the Rings than About Existing Cultures

I wonder what that means. Were they too foreign because they were not set in Western society, or were they foreign because they did not rely on a Eurocentric view of mythology to form their world-building? Were they foreign because the authors were foreign and utilized a lot of cultural dialogue and cultural elements in their stories? Or were they foreign just because they were written in a way that was impossible for the larger Western population to understand? I don’t get it, and neither did these authors.

Indra Das offered an interesting, very valid perspective. He said that there are thousands and thousands of fantasy books out there, widely consumed by people of all races, people of all ages. Many of these books have made-up mythologies, created out of one person’s mind. Invented creatures, invented races and languages, and these books are popular. They are dubbed “legendary fantasies,” and people have no problem absorbing these completely made-up cultures and worlds. The Lord of the Rings is still very widely consumed. The world is made-up, and there are many creatures and forms of lore that had not existed before Tolkien penned them down. He created languages for his series. And people are comfortable with this, and call him the god of fantasy. But when it comes to existing cultures, existing mythologies, all of a sudden they are “too foreign?” It’s interesting to see that the literary world (at least in the West) has such a disjointed, fragmented notion of the world that they find it easier to absorb abstract inventions rather than concrete, existing mythologies that have developed, evolved and matured over centuries.

I encountered this issue first-hand just two days ago. I wrote a short story with a Pakistani child as the protagonist, who moves to Europe at the age of seven. There wasn’t a ton of cultural lingo in my story, and when there was, I made an active effort to make it very clear what the words meant in the context of the story. I mentioned the traditional garb of Pakistan once in my piece; this was the sentence: “people in London did not wear shalwar kameez, but instead wore skirts and dresses.” I don’t know – maybe I’m completely wrong, but I’m assuming that from this sentence – even in its limited context – you can figure out what shalwar kameez is. It’s an outfit, or a way of clothing. One person in my class had underlined the phrase and written, “What is this?” underneath. Perhaps it’s unjustified or silly of me to be annoyed, but fuck, was I annoyed.

I’d gone my entire life reading about Thanksgiving in books. It was presented without any context, but I knew it was some sort of holiday. It wasn’t until I moved to the US that I find out that Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday- it’s an American thing. I had no idea, but I read it all my life and learned to fill in the blanks, no matter how disjointedly. This person in a literature class can’t fill in the blanks from a clear-cut context? They need me to spell out every single aspect of my culture to them? Seriously? What bothered me more than that, however, was how nobody batted an eyelash when this kid wrote an elaborate sci-fi story set on a made-up planet with a made-up society and a made-up culture. But when it comes to “shalwar kameez,” all of a sudden, Google does not exist and they find it absolutely necessary to point out in my writing that it’s a foreign phrase and that I should spell it out for my readers.

Why do people find it some sort of chore to read about other cultures? Why does everything non-Eurocentric get named “too foreign” or “too exotic.” People in these places have been reading these Eurocentric stories ever since they were children, and if they can do it, why can’t you? Are you less intelligent than “foreign” people, or are you just too entitled? What’s the deal?


Expectation with a Capital E: I’m Supposed to Write Stories that Demonize My Culture; Otherwise, They Will Go Unnoticed

Sami Shah had another interesting perspective to add to the conversation- another very valid perspective that forced me to think about how art is absorbed in Eurocentric societies. Shah was frank when he said that South Asian writers, or any writers from developing countries, are expected to write a certain type of story. They are supposed to write about the monstrous nature of their countries and societies, the backward-nature of their cultures. They must write about everything bad in order to be recognized and admired by the international community. Most wildly popular Indian and Pakistani stories are ones that demonize the region: stories of barbaric violence, of misogyny and terrorism and poverty are the ones that are told and recognized. Stories about sweet romances or close-knit families, or feel-good tales about friendship, or kick-ass urban fantasies are not recognized because they do not cater to Expectation.

Think about it. How many Indian movies are you familiar with? Bollywood is just a subset of the Indian cinematic scene- in 2014, India released 1969 movies – only 252 of which were from Bollywood (Source). Indian movies encompass a wide variety of genres- we have stories like 3 Idiotswhich is a tale about friendship, first-love and the importance of learning above formal education. We have movies like PKwhich was a heartfelt, humorous analysis of religions in India- the message ultimately being that we are so intent on division that we don’t realize the common thread that binds us: humanity. We have tales like Kal Ho Naa Hoa tragi-comedy with one of the greatest love triangles ever written ever. Like Devdaswhich is a modern-day Indian retelling of Romeo & Juliet, of sorts (but very different too) or Barfiwhich follows the story of a young man who is deaf and mute but lives life like no other. Have you heard of any of these movies? These are some of the most popular movies in Indian cinema- the highest-rated, the most prominent, featuring some of the highest-paid actors in the entire world. No.

But you’ve heard of Slumdog Millionaire, haven’t you? Which is a ridiculously mediocre tale compared to some of the gems Indian cinema has produced. It basks in its mediocrity because it makes Westerners sit back and appreciate their lives and marvel at how foreign India is, at how lucky they are that they weren’t born in a society where poverty is so commonplace. Fuck the rest. It doesn’t matter that India is a developing economy, is home to so many cultures, has brilliant minds in fields of science and mathematics. That doesn’t matter- let’s just look at the slums, because that’s what makes us feel good about ourselves. That’s what tells us that the White Man has the greatest countries in the world- look at these poor brown and black nations with their backwardness and archaic traditions.

Similarly, Pakistan has a booming television industry with incredible shows that portray every reality of Pakistan- the upper-class, the middle-class and the lower-class. We have a ridiculously talented arsenal of fashion designers and artists, and a musical platform that sparked an artistic revolution in the country, and later spread to bordering countries. We have produced scientists and software engineers as young as nine, both boys and girlls. But no- you don’t hear these stories. You don’t see them published. You don’t see our documentaries, our shows and our movies on your screens. Unless they show you how barbaric our society is. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has won the Oscar twice – both times, she has made movies about some of the most backward practices in our country. Realities. Harsh realities that cannot be ignored, should not be ignored and are extremely important to realize and change- but the only realities that Westerners feel like recognizing. We have hardcovers of I Am Malala in every single bookstore with the words “The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” emblazoned on its cover. Which is incredible – it is, because Malala is one brave girl who did things that I can’t even dream of doing. But is she the only humanitarian Pakistan has released? What about Abdul Sattar Edhi? The man who formed the largest welfare network in the region, if not the world. Who spent his entire life providing shelter and healthcare to the poor and the needy. At the time of his death, he was the guardian or parent of 20,000 orphaned or abandoned children. Think about that. People flocked to his funeral from all over Pakistan- people who never knew him wept because Pakistan’s “Angel of Mercy” had passed away. He died earlier this year and most Westerners don’t even know he existed. But what burns me inside is that these people claim to be well-read, claim to be educated enough to have discussions about these countries and cultures when they have ridiculously tinted, biased views of the region.

*Takes a deep breath* Sorry, went off on a tangent there. But you get my point here. We’re not expected to write foreign stories, and when we do write them, we can’t steer clear of Expectation. My story has to be about an oppressed woman living in poverty whose husband is abusive and maybe even a member of the Taliban. Throw in religious oppression for good measure. I’ll write that and I’ll probably win an award. “A stunning tale of overcoming hardship” yada, yada, yada. But God forbid I want to write a cultural fantasy, or a contemporary about a normal teenager who goes to high school, has a crush and really likes to read books. That’s not a story that makes the White Man feel good about himself; that’s a story that tells him that there are people just like him in societies that are stereotyped, stigmatized and dehumanized, and that makes him very uncomfortable.


Rebelling Against Expectation: I Will Not Write a Story that Further Stigmatizes My Culture and My Voice

It’s not so black-and-white. It never is. Sure, there are horrible things happening in the region (let’s focus on the Indian subcontinent here), but does that mean that any step to bridge the gap between Western and Eastern cultures is stifled just because our stories don’t fit an agenda? I don’t want to write a story that paints my country, my people, my history and my culture in a disgustingly dark light. I want my stories to have nuance, I want my readers to relate. Your strange desire to read books about black-and-white oppression is foreign to me, not cultural fantasies from other countries.

After all this, after listening to the podcast and thinking at-length about the implications of the phrase “too foreign,” I ask myself a question. We talk the talk- we say we want more diverse books, and we engage with authors about the lack of diversity in their books, and we try and spotlight diverse literature. But is our message reaching publishers? They reject these diverse books that they liked because they see no market- where is the market? You and me and her – we are the market. There are so many of us who “advocate” diversity by talking about it on social media – which is amazing, trust me, it is. But do you go out and actively buy books from marginalized authors, or stories that are foreign, or tales that are culturally diverse? Unless you start supporting these books and these authors’ voices, there is never going to be a market. And good stories are going to be passed over because publishers believe- rightly so, I may add- that people simply don’t want to read something “foreign.” What good is a Twitter thread to a business? Businesses do not rely on 140-character messages. They rely on money and profit- and that’s the sad truth of this world, but it’s one that should be realized so that change can actively be achieved.


What do you think? What are the implications of the phrase “too foreign” to you and do you think it’s as big of a deal as I’m making it? What are some ways you can support diversity so that a more nuanced perspective of stigmatized societies can come to the forefront? Let me know in the comments; and as always, thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #8

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

six of crows“Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.  A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.”

With the recent release of Crooked Kingdom, I thought I’d talk a little about the diversity in this duology. I’ve spoken a little on other social media about how important it is to include diversity, especially in fantasy where it’s completely unrealistic to have a huge world with all cishet white able-bodied characters. I think all fantasy authors should look at Bardugo and use her as inspiration. We have six main characters- all very important people. You can say there’s one character that is held above the others, but the other five are on the same level.

Kaz Brekker is disabled and suffers from severe PTSD. Inej is brown- her culture is inspired by Hindu and South Asian culture. Nina is a larger woman who is bisexual, while Matthias is our brooding straight-white hero (so there’s that too). Jesper is black, and has an addiction to gambling. He’s also bisexual, and Wylan suffers from what I think is dyslexia and is gay. And they are all so beautifully developed and presented. I mean, honestly, this series has little to no flaws.


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the summer of chasing mermaidsThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

“The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak. Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life. When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them.

I hadn’t heard much about this book until very recently when a blogger said that the representation in this one was so spot-on that she hadn’t even realized that it wasn’t an #OwnVoices novel. I’ve never read a book set in the Caribbean before, so I’m excited to see how this one fares.


Goodreads | Amazon (only $6 for a paperbacks!) | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

coming soon

beastBeast by Brie Spangler

“Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a transgender character! That’s so fucking awesome, don’t you think? I remember thinking that retellings are such an interesting way to include diversity in your stories- it much be fun to play around the tropes and see how gender-swaps and inclusion of different races or removing heterosexuality of the main couple would affect the story- if at all. This one sounds awesome because it’s a contemporary retelling, whereas most of the B&tB retellings I’m familiar with are fantasy. Very excited.

This book releases on October 11th, 2016


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Across the Blogosphere

Meep @ Book 7 |

Diversity Spotlight Thursday | #7

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

every last wordEvery Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

“Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

I was looking through all my DST posts, and I realized that I hadn’t yet featured a book with a protagonist who has a mental illness. I’m studying Psychology in school, and I’m very passionate about how mental illness is portrayed in books. I think Stone did a wonderful job of depicting Samantha’s OCD; apart from being a good portrayal, it was a wholesome novel with strong friendships, a cute romance and strong family dynamics.


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more happy than notMore Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Ha, I honestly cannot believe that I still haven’t read this book. I remember I was waiting for the hype to die down when it first came out, but now the hype’s kind of gone and I still haven’t seen anything but glowing reviews. I love Adam Silvera’s personality on social media, and this book sounds profound and heartbreaking, and just something up my ally. Really need to get to it soon!


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coming soon

always and forever lara jeanAlways and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

“Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I really loved the first book in this trilogy- the second one not so much, but I liked it enough to want to continue reading. I love Jenny Han’s portrayal of tight-knit families. The protagonist is biracial, and I enjoy seeing Jenny Han’s depictions of Korean culture. A little nervous about what is in store for Lara Jean and Peter, but excited nonetheless. 🙂

This book releases on April 4th 2017.


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Across the Blogosphere

Nagina @ ohbookish | Kee @ Kee the Reader | Charlotte @ cahwrites | Diana @ A Haven for Book Lovers | Codie @ Reader’s Anonymous | Alexandra @ Salsera Beauty Reads | Esther @ Chapter Adventures | Sarah @ Reviews and Read-a-Thons | M @ A Blog of One’s Own | Meep @ Book 7

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #1

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Hello, everyone! Welcome to the first ever Diversity Spotlight post!
Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly, and its aim is to shed light on diverse literature. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.
P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required!

READ

220px-aristotle_and_dante_discover_the_secrets_of_the_universe_coverAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz | PoC Protagonists, M/M pairing

“Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

Ari & Dante is a wonderful tale of two friends. Our protagonists are both Mexican-Americans whose relationships with each other bloom from friendship into something much stronger. I am not going to sit here and exclaim that I know much about Latinx culture, but from what I have observed from experience and, let’s say TV, I have a strong feeling that family is prioritized a lot in Latinx culture. And that becomes obvious in this novel as adults and family play a huge role in our characters’ lives. It was a wonderful look into a culture I was not familiar with at the time, yet something I felt a part of. In my culture, family is considered the most important thing: South Asian families are very close-knit. I always feel a disconnect in books where parents are absent or simply indifferent; seeing reflections of my own culture in Ari & Dante was wonderful.


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Written in the StarsWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed | PoC protagonist, set in a foreign country

“Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.”

As a Pakistani myself, I can relate to cultural constraints – but not from my parents. Arranged marriage is a common practice in Pakistan, and I know it’s often looked down upon in Western societies, but I have always held the belief that if both the boy and the girl are willing to have an arranged marriage, there is no harm. My parents did not engage in an arranged marriage, and they do not expect me to do so, but I have friends and family who feel pressured by their families and societal structure to have an arranged marriage, even though they do not want to. I have never read a YA book that has a Pakistani protagonist, so I’m very excited to read this. I am sure Aisha Saeed did the complicated themes and the complex state of the country justice.


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coming soon

into whiteInto White by Randi Pink | PoC Protagonist

“When a black teenager prays to be white and her wish comes true, her journey of self-discovery takes shocking–and often hilarious–twists and turns in this debut that people are sure to talk about. LaToya Williams lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and attends a mostly white high school. She’s so low on the social ladder that even the other black kids disrespect her. Only her older brother, Alex, believes in her. At least, until a higher power answers her only prayer–to be “anything but black.” And voila! She wakes up with blond hair, blue eyes, and lily white skin. And then the real fun begins…”

When I first heard about this book, I was a little apprehensive. This could go so wrong or so right- I don’t think there can be an in-between. But with recent emphasis being put on exploring the meaning, responsibilities and consequences of privilege, I definitely think this story will be one worth reading. I’m sure Randi Pink will explore the topic with honesty; and in this moment where we are having important conversations, it is crucial that we listen to people writing with honesty. Into White has great reviews from people who have obtained ARCs, and it’s definitely a book I am on the lookout for.


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Alright, that’s it for my first ever Diversity Spotlight post. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them. If you decide to participate, please feel free to leave a link to your post below so I can check it out and maybe give it a share! As always, thank you for stopping by, and happy reading!

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This Week’s #DiversityThursday Posts from around the Blogosphere


Eliana @ The Written Opinion | Estefani @ Fiction Jungle | Megan @ bookslayerReads

Blog Meme Announcement: Diversity Spotlight Thursday

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Background


So, a few days ago, I decided that I didn’t want to participate in both Top Ten Tuesday and Top Five Wednesday. It just seems a little much to me- compiling 15-item lists every single week. I find myself repeating a lot of the answers and I just wasn’t having fun. But I also knew that I wanted to have at least two blog memes in a given week- no more, no less. Top Ten Tuesday is too much fun to give up, so I needed a replacement for T5W. I know there are so many fantastic memes out there, but I decided to create my own: a weekly spotlight that illuminates diverse literature specifically.

If you’re active in the bookish community, you’re probably aware of the “We Need Diverse Books” movement. It’s so incredibly important that stories with diverse characters as leads are emphasized. For young children and young adults to read literature and see their cultures, their values, themselves reflected in what they are reading. We have been programmed to read about a character and automatically assume they are able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual and Caucasian. And the vast majority of literature, specifically YA literature, features these characters. When in truth, people of all colors, faiths, ethnicities, sexualities exist and are just as important and interesting as anyone else. And they are just not represented to their fullest in literature.

But perhaps even more than that, I think it is incredibly important to feature diverse authors. Authors who are not Caucasian and are writing about their cultures: like Junot Díaz writes about his culture, like Jhumpa Lahiri writes about hers. It is important to give these authors a spotlight so that their work can also be brought to the forefront. Their own voices are more accurate and more sensitive- they let us step into their shoes and think about their work from a less objective point of view.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of people have come to expect every single author out there to include diverse characters in their casts, which is wonderful if they do, but these authors are bashed if they do not. The readers who bash them are generally those readers who only pick up the most talked-about books and do not make an effort to read diverse literature. If you are a proponent of diverse literature, you have to go outside your box and read those books that are less popular. It is up to you to read these books and give them the spotlight they deserve. Practice what you preach. 

Just a little note: while I know that many of my readers mostly read young adult literature, I will try my best to give you a more diverse range of genres in these posts. Since this meme is focused on diversity, I will try to include many different genres, including adult fiction. There are so many fantastic, international writers out there who do not write in the YA genre, and their stories are often overlooked by younger readers. These stories are full of multiculturalism, of hard-hitting experiences told with poignance and sensitivity. It’s so important that if you are a proponent of diverse literature, you need to read diversely as well.


What the Meme Will Consist Of


Diversity Spotlight will take place every Thursday, and it will be featuring three books in any given week:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

Talking about a book that you have read and enjoyed may give your readers a push to read it, and you have done something in spreading love for a diverse book. Talking about a book that you want to read may help readers of your blog tell you more about the book if they have read it, thus giving you a push to pick it up sooner than you otherwise would have. And finally, talking about an unreleased diverse book will hopefully help the book get some buzz before it hits the shelves.


Rules


I don’t require anything, but if you decide to participate, here are a few things that would be much, much appreciated.

  • In all your posts, if you could give a brief description of what the meme is and who hosts it (linking it to this post so new bloggers can get all the background and the intention behind the meme), that would be MUCH appreciated. But again, not required.
  • Feel free to use the banner above. No need to credit!
  • Please also feel free to leave your links in the comment section of my posts. That way, I can keep up with everyone participating while also adding more and more diverse literature to my TBR. 🙂
  • You can use the hashtag #DiversityThursday to feature your posts on other social media platforms
  • Have fun!

I don’t expect anything great from this meme or anything. It’s more for me than anything else, to talk about something that I’m passionate about. My first post will be up tomorrow. Until then, thank you for stopping by and happy reading! <3

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