DISCUSSION: Diverse Rep in Media, Part 2(ish)
*this post includes affiliate links I have with Amazon*
Hey guys! So like I said in my latest review, I’ve been on hiatus for a while because of uni and so I’ve kept quiet on a lot of things (aka drama) that have happened in the literary world, specifically the diversity discussion. Instead of writing a post, I’ve shared my original Diversity in YA post and have discussed it all on Twitter but I now have the time to write the post and I don’t want to keep quiet anymore. Plus, SO to Maggie who contacted me the other day and asked for more diverse recs/resources; you nearly made me cry with happiness so the second half of this discussion is dedicated to you <3! Okay now let’s discuss diversity once again…
Let’s get one thing straight, diversity is not a limitation. EVER. Not in any type of media or world. Being diverse is actually a bit like a superpower because you have different experiences and have more knowledge. Some people will think you are the enemy and others will try and say they’re actions and words are okay because they know one superhero. Nah bro nah. You don’t get a free pass on racism if you have one black friend. Or one Muslim friend. Or one “insert someone who’s not white” friend. KNOWING ONE DIVERSE PERSON DOES NOT GIVE YOU A FREE PASS ON RACISM.
Example: For those who don’t know the story, I had a best friend in 11th grade who I thought was wonderful….until he and his friends started to make jokes about terrorism and Muslims and 9/11 and other really racist jokes. And I used to get mad at him & tell him to stop and he would for a couple days before starting back up. This process repeated for about 8 or so months till I basically stopped talking to him. Same thing happened with other “friends” except they never stopped and they kept using the excuse that they were joking. HAHAHAHA IT’S NOT FUNNY TO MAKE FUN OF OTHER PEOPLE AND BELITTLE THEM OR VILLIFY THEM! K? K. Let’s move on.
Now, this kind of thinking and actions have gotten a lot worse since Donald Trump was nominated and then elected; people who are non-white and/or non-straight and/or less-abled are getting harassed, abused, threatened and killed for simply being non-white or straight. Don’t believe me? Well, read this statistic straight from the FBI: hate crimes against Muslims in JUST 2015 jumped up by 67%, near as high as post-9/11 attacks against Muslims. Still don’t believe me? Hate crimes against Muslims in 2016 JUST IN NEW YORK CITY rose 31.5%. JUST IN NEW YORK CITY! One city! Now, if you still don’t believe me please watch the news and I can pretty much guarantee you that unfortunately something has happened because that is somehow the world we live in now.
Note: I use Muslims as the example because I am a Muslim and have more experience in this “area” of hate crimes/speech. There has certainly been an increase in hate crimes against other diverse peoples and I definitely recognize that. Just thought I’d note that.
I tell you all of this because this is what people who are non-white and/or non-straight and/or less-abled have to deal with on a daily basis and yet somehow, entertainment media gets us wrong, or whitewashes us or completely erases us from movies, tv shows, books as if diverse people are not real people. All of those things are really wrong (DUH) and if you’re reading this post, you’re probably educated enough to know that. So then how come it still happens? How come Kiera Drake, author of The Continent, can write such a horrible book and no one finds out until two months before release? How come it took one POC woman to realize that Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth was essentially as bad as The Continent in terms of diversity & racism, after many (white) readers had read it? How come someone can say that “diversity is a limitation” (to fantasy books) and basically be so dang racist that I feel sick to my stomach, more so that she is not the only person who believes this way?? WHY?!
The short answer is: I don’t know.
The long answer: I don’t know how people can be so racist and rude and disrespectful against other human beings simply because their skin is a different colour, they have a different religion, they ….etc It’s exhausting to see racism, and hear about it and experience it and it’s annoying that I have to make this post to show my feelings on the topic because there are people who don’t get it and it’s just straight up annoying that someone who is the epitome of racism and misogyny was elected President thus giving fuel to so much racism.
But here’s what you can do to help:
- Stand up to strangers and friends and family who are racist and explain to them why what they’re saying is so wrong as many times as it takes for them to change their ways or block you.
- Recommend books, movies and tv shows that feature good representation of diverse peeps to anyone and everyone who will listen.
- Understand that your faves can still be your faves and yet still be problematic. SJM is really good at creating really awesome plotlines and worlds but she is horrible at diversity. I know that and I’ll say that but she’s still a fave.
- Listen to people who say that (insert book/movie/tv show) is problematic and don’t argue about it. Going off #3, when someone says that one of your faves, like SJM, is problematic, don’t argue. Because SJM’s books are problematic and that’s the gosh darn truth so there is no point in arguing that. Instead, listen and just know that for the future. That’s it. Nothing else is needed.
- Read and watch more books, movies and tv shows with diversity in them and watch out for misrepresentation. There will be entertainment media that claim to be diverse *cough And I Darken, The Continent, Carve The Mark cough* and actually are misrepresentative and there will be other things that are amazingly diverse like the Ms. Marvel* comics and Written In The Stars*.
- Put your money where your mouth is. If you have enough money to buy books from white authors or about books with mainly white people, then you can do the same with books from POC authors or books with good diverse representation.
Really, that’s it. That’s the simple-ish things you can do to help take a stand against racism. But oh wait, there’s more! Here’s a list of 10 diverse authors and books for those who don’t know where to start and/or want more diverse things to read:
- Iron Cast* by Destiny Soria
- The Hate U Give* by Angie Thomas
- The Sun Is Also A Star* by Nicola Yoon
- When Dimple Met Rishi* by Sandhya Menon
- The Wrath & The Dawn* by Renee Ahdieh
- Flame In The Mist* by Renee Ahdieh
- The Star-Touched Queen* by Roshani Chokshi
- Six of Crows* by Leigh Bardugo
- Shadowshaper* by Daniel Jose Older
- An Ember In The Ashes* by Sabaa Tahir
To continue my list of recs, here’s a thread of Muslim authors and books that you should read and here is a video made by Whitney Atkinson that explains #ownvoices and its importance, as well as includes an enormous list of resources on diversity and ownvoices. BTW, if you wanna see screenshots of what the racist person who I was so disgusted by said, Whitney has them and was the one who was targeted by said racist after making a wonderful thread about diversity. Also, here’s my post on Diverse Rep in YA again as well as a post on Muslims in YA.
And that’s it I think! If y’all have any questions on diversity or want more recommendations for books (or movies or tv shows), feel free to contact me via email, Twitter or through my contact me form on my blog. Also, if you have any (respectful) thoughts on what I said, have any more resources or just want to say something, feel free to comment down below! Thanks, have a great day/night and tata for now!
*This is an affiliate link I have with Amazon 🙂