Thursday, February 4, 2016

How Diverse is "DIVERSE"?

Hi there Misfit booknerds!!! How have you been? I hope you guys are alright and are reading some "diverse" books. See? Me trying to be creative with my puns just to get to the point of this post. Anyway, about a week ago or somewhere around that time, I don't even remember, I got into a discussion when talking about Simon VS. by Becky Albertalli, about diversity in young adult novels. (Shoutout to everyone on #DiverseYABC!!!). I've actually wanted to talk about this issue for a long time and I think it's a pretty appropriate time.

Diverse books are, in a more specific context, books that represent an array of different concepts, themes, characters and who try to give a voice to communities that are for example, marginalized, misunderstood, the LGBTQIA, People of Color, those who deal with mental issues and disabilities and more. It's like a division in books that's been working overtime all the time and is now getting the recognition it deserves. It's starting to take more shape and getting a lot more appreciation as the years go by.

As the discussion started, one question that definitely ringed in my mind was, "How do you spot or find out if the representation or diversity in the book is accurate?"

Definitely one of the key elements into finding out if a book is "diverse" is through research. If a book is claiming diversity, then research is important...for both readers and authors. A book can't just go on saying it punches into diversity by introducing characters that are of different races and blah blah blah but not entirely living up to it or at least showing a shed of personality to suggest that they are "diverse".

Can diverse books be really just about pasting in characters that are of different cultures? Is it enough to mention that they are gay or transgender or going through depression without actually discussing it enough? Or is it actually okay to just be that and let it present a story that makes them seem like they are going through a normal day? 

It's actually really difficult to write diverse books and to properly represent these themes and communities with accuracy without having people question it. It's very tricky to get all positives when it triggers something that can irritate or cause a stir in people. 

But I guess that's what diverse really means in the book community. It's something that can irk the mind. It's more than just the characters that have to be diverse but also the theme and the story itself. It has to be quite controversial and provide some sucker punch in there in order for it to be talked about. Diverse books need to be talked about more often...or maybe even all the time.

Also, yes, diversity in novels is hard to tackle but also easy to get into as an aspiring author. You get the idea in your head and you feel like it's gonna be important but then you get scared that it might not live into the book community's diversity "standards". I am writing a book about a Chinese-American and an American and I'm not even both of those races. I kinda feel scared now to open up my imagination to things when I'm limited by the idea that diversity and creative outlet is molded together but not entirely accepted. My target is to make people feel like it's them in the book, of course through their race or upbringing but I also want it to mirror a personality. Too much to wish for? I have no idea.

Does diversity only mean to be selective to the people who have experienced it? So, should I have cancer if I'm ever going to write about someone with cancer? I know this statement is gonna be offensive to some, but that's just how I feel in the context of things. Isn't fiction a way to relay certain issues no matter who writes it? It's important however, to research and be fully aware and get second opinions or third opinions about it if you are planning on tackling these issues, unless you want to be called an idiot or insensitive for not knowing everything or at least most about it.

There's definitely a way to show diversity and be "diverse" when writing a book or reading a book. But unless we actually accept that these social issues come into play in our world and there's gonna be that one person who talks about it and opens it up to the world, there's probably no hope. The world will be so much more peaceful if we don't loosely think that "diverse books is just a gateway to get the word out and offend people. It's all a marketing strategy blah blah blah". Yeah, some people think that way and I've witnessed it and it's not fun.

It's important to show diversity and it's so much better to have books that can shape the world but let's not limit them and tell the story that people should definitely know. Let's not be afraid but also learn that it's the truth that we're holding on to. And people need the truth. To me, that's how diverse is diverse.


So, I ended up rambling so much when the ending paragraph is literally the answer to the title. I laugh at myself sometimes. LOL. Anyway, thank you for reading it! Do leave a comment on the comments section below if you have anything to say about or against diverse books or if you feel that diverse books aren't diverse enough. I would love to discuss this issue with you.

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