Hello all and happy Thursday!
I believe in the whole #OwnVoices movement and, of course, I’m all for diversity and inclusion but, I don’t believe in hating on or shaming authors who are so unfamiliar with certain peoples or customs that they, out of respect to those peoples and customs, don’t try to tackle for fear of fucking it up. I don’t like it when readers will knit pick and hate on authors who are, for example, straight and white and are afraid to tackle something that is so outside of their parameters and they don’t have the confidence in themselves or their writing that they’d be able to do a good job of representing a particular culture or people and so, out of respect, they just don’t write about them and then the readers get pissed because they’ve “excluded” these people on purpose to be malicious. (The same goes for writers of color who don’t know the parameters of a culture different from their own).
Though diversity is, of course, one of the most (if not the most) important thing(s) in literature, lately it seems like that is what makes or breaks a book or an author’s career. While I agree that all authors should have some consideration for characters and situations that differ from themselves in order to demonstrate the variety of folks that live in the world’s society, it is another thing completely to metaphorically burn writers at the stake who don’t adhere to the diversity agenda because they would rather not mess up or falsely portray anyone whom they are unfamiliar with than butcher a people or culture. Let me make myself clear, though, in no way am I saying that diversity doesn’t matter or that it is okay that there is still a massive struggle today for advocating for diversity and equal representation in literature. Instead, I am saying that the extent of the backlash that some authors get for trying to be considerate (by not tackling a subject that they aren’t a hundred percent familiar with) is quite absurd in my personal opinion. Yes, obviously, diversity matters (I wrote a whole other post on this topic that was a part of a paper I did on the importance of diversity which you can check out using this link: Under-representation and Misrepresentation of Diversity (Marginalization) in YA Literature) but is it really the deciding factor for what makes a good book a good book? Isn’t the fact that there is diversity even among the books themselves a good thing? That means that there’s always something to read and connect to for everyone. Obviously, if I were to read a book about a white male protagonist growing up in someplace like Ohio or something, I wouldn’t relate very much to it being a Hispanic female who grew up in South Texas in a place that might as well have been a part of Mexico. Likewise, if I read a wonderful story about a young woman of color’s journey surviving through a refugee camp after escaping political oppression, I would not be able to identify with such a character/narrator or story. Nevertheless, I would still read it and understand that this is probably not a story that has been targeted for me to relate to but I can still enjoy it anyway. At the end of the day, I’ll still think it’s a good book regardless of whether or not I am able to see myself in it or not. I would never have the nerve to criticize a book or its author for the petty fact that there wasn’t a female Hispanic with a Mexican background in the story. That would be ridiculous! I don’t need to have myself represented in literally everything, especially when I know that if writers who are unfamiliar with cultures such as my own background tried to write about it and people like myself, then more likely than not, I (and people like myself) would be poorly represented and portrayed inaccurately as something I am not. I would rather read about a character similar to myself by an author who has experience and knows about my culture and people and who can properly portray an experience similar to my own.
That’s just my opinion but, please, I welcome any and all comments or discourse you would like to share with me in this conversation in the comments section down below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and what your opinions are in regards to both my own asserted opinions or just the situation I discussed in general. I hope to talk to y’all soon! Thanks so much for reading y’all! Let me know anything you’d like to say in the comments below, you know I love hearing from y’all!
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