I know, it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me. Though I doubt very many people regularly follow my blog, I promise I’ll be back to semi-regular posting soon. It’s been a rough month so far, and trying to keep up with all my projects has really taken a toll.
A quick low-down of what’s happened:
- My cat died
- The US presidential election
Long story short about my cat – he was diagnosed with fatty liver and after a feeding tube surgery, hospitalization, and a week of intensive care, I had to make the decision to put him down. The week after that was the presidential election and my birthday. Let’s just say turning 26 wasn’t as fun as it could have been, considering the things that led up to it.
But anyway – that’s not what this post is about. This post, though I like to keep this blog relatively politics-free, is about diversity and how important it is, not just in our every day lives but in literature and other media. I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Consider the presidential election a catalyst of sorts. I’ve also been reading a lovely book series, Jackaby, by William Ritter. You know when you get so into a series you can’t help but go online and look up everything you can (I’m one impulse away from hunting down fan fiction)? Well that’s what happened to me and I stumbled upon the author’s blog, and a post titled “What I DESERVE.”
Between those two, I’ve become inspired to write this post. So, here goes.
Diversity in our entertainment is something of a hot topic nowadays, from praise for projects like Orange is the New Black to outrage over others like Ghost in the Shell, Dr. Strange, and the countless other white-washed projects that grace Hollywood. As a writer myself, I do my best to diversify my characters, within the scope of my knowledge. In my case, that means writing stories with varied depictions of women that don’t rely on the usual stereotypes. Of course, I’m as guilty of falling into negative tropes as anyone, but I’m slowly getting there, learning with each work. At the same time, though, I don’t want any of my attempts at diversity to feel forced – hence why I stay in my comfort zone.
There’s also a fine line to toe when writing stories outside your experience. As a straight, cis, white, Latina, the characters I can write with confidence remain within that scope. I can’t, or don’t feel comfortable, taking on the voice of someone in the LGBT community or POC. And yet, I know I should be including those characters in my stories. Truth be told, I don’t try hard enough to reach that level of inclusion. Is it weird that I feel like I’m stepping on toes when I try to write those characters? Is it even my place to write those characters – or should I just step aside and leave them to LGBT and POC authors? Those are questions I ask myself all the time. I’ve even discussed it, and the conclusion I’ve come to is this – as someone who will be heard and listened to more often than those communities, it is my job to write those characters and support others that do.
There’s so much we can do to promote diversity – both in subtle and major ways. It can be as small as just affirming that your main character is a part of those communities through description (see: Rue in The Hunger Games). The story doesn’t have to be *about* them being a POC or LGBT. Unless the story itself is actually impacted by a character’s sexual orientation or ethnicity, those things can be anything. If you’re on the other side of it and want to write stories that *do* revolve around being a POC or LGBT, but you’re not in those communities, do your research! Include actual voices from real people. Make it a collaborative effort. It doesn’t take much to reach out as an ally and involve the people you’re writing about in your actual writing process. Take an active interest, instead of just observing from the sidelines. Make sure you’re lifting them up!
This goes beyond writing and into real life, too. I said I didn’t want to get political, but now more than ever – in the aftermath of an election that’s left many terrified and angry – it’s become paramount that as people with certain amounts of privilege, we have to reach out to those who don’t walk the same paths we do, and help elevate their voices. As William Ritter says in his post – we need to lend each other helping hands, pick each other up where we can, so we can ALL get head. At the end of the day, the world will be better for it.
So that’s my two cents. In the spring I’ll be leading a diversity workshop for writers at my alma mater, so maybe you’ll read more on this topic leading up to that and as I start prepping. Maybe this will become a more information-heavy blog than it used to be. Maybe I’m overdue an overhaul and remodel. Hmm.
As always, think happy thoughts!