Diversity is More Than Just a Buzzword
Why You Should Consume More Work by Diverse Creators
Some of my college friends and I have decided to start a book club as a way to encourage us to read more and see one another more. The aim is personal growth and spend quality time with quality people who we don’t see as often as we’d like. As we were deciding which book to kick off our book club, I asked if we could read books by diverse authors. It seemed simple enough at the time, but it made me think deeper on the topic of diversity in media.
Diversity is more than just a buzzword. Diversity is more than just a trend. And in 2020, I am going to be intentional about consuming work from diverse creators.
Kacen Callendar wrote in a PW article last year that sometimes a book wasn’t written for a white, straight, cis, able-bodied audience, which is what most of the biz looks like. Because of this, we often see a POC main character as “unrelatable.” “I just didn’t connect with the character,” is a line often used. But when you’re white, and you’re straight, and you’re cis, and you’re able-bodied, you need to realize that centering a project’s worth around your own identities makes you ignore the fact that maybe this project wasn’t made for you. You need to shift your perspective. You need to shift the lens with which you view art.
Your identities should not become an excuse for homogeneity in the media you consume.
In children’s literature, we often talk about content as “windows” and “mirrors”—content that reflects your life and content that opens a portal into another. For white people, mirror books often reflect things about your life and your culture that make you feel good. The same is not true for those from marginalized backgrounds. And sometimes white people are not comfortable with the idea that they look like the villain in a story.
So why should we consume content that makes us uncomfortable? Why should we consume more window books in 2020? Because the world is not homogenous. Because the experiences of people from marginalized backgrounds as reflected in media is not worth less because you look like the bad guy. Because you need to listen to stories that are unlike your own. Because everyone deserves to be represented and included in the media they consume.
Some organizations are dedicated to diversity in media. Check out We Need Diverse Books, who are doing fabulous things in the children’s publishing space! If you have other suggestions of orgs who are pushing diversity, drop me a line! I’d love to add them!