I saw this tag a while ago in author Claribel Ortega’s original video and I thought it was pretty cool! I’m all for a tag celebrating diversity!
Diversity has been a persistent hot topic in the YA book community since last year when it really exploded. This is a great thing, in my opinion, especially given current events. It’s so important to represent the humanity of all individuals.
Anyhoo, before I go off on a tangent, I should probably get back to the main thing: the #Diverse8 tag. So let’s get started!
Why is diversity important to you?
Oh boy, what a complex question! Okay, so I think I can whittle down why diversity matters to me to two important reasons:
- I, myself, am marginalized. I’m Black, Lebanese, and Cherokee, I have a physical disability, as well as a learning disability, and I’m low income. So, naturally, I’d like to see myself represented.
- I grew up in and currently live in what is believed to be one of the top 3 most diverse towns in the United States. But more than simply being diverse (ethnically/racially, in terms of gender and sexuality, income wise, and disability wise), my hometown is incredibly integrated. For instance, there’s no “Black section” or “Latinx section” or “Arab section” of town. We all live together harmoniously and mingle together. It’s not a strange sight to see interracial couples, friends who have various gender identities, disabled people and able-bodied people who are coworkers. Everyone is welcome and we protect all. So I’ve seen with my own eyes how beautiful diversity and integration is. And I want others to see that too.
What was the last diverse title you read?
What are some of your favorite diverse titles?
Some of my favorite are: the The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh, the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir, The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han, the Wolf by Wolf duology by Ryan Graudin, the Saga graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, the Ms. Marvel comics by G. Willow Wilson, and the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu
If you could choose one movie or TV show with diverse representation to become a book series, what would it be?
I would love to see Sense8 turned into a book series because it’s so high-concept and visual that I’m really curious as to how it would be transformed into a written medium!
For those of you who haven’t watched Sense8–which you should, by the way–it’s a light sci fi/drama show about eight individuals who live around the world who find themselves inexplicably interconnected. It’s wonderful and it has great representation of people from many walks of life.
If you’re a writer, do you include marginalized people in your books?
I’m not a writer, but if I were, I would definitely include marginalized people in my book! I don’t see why I wouldn’t, unless it really, really didn’t make sense, but I can’t imagine a scenario in which it wouldn’t make sense.
Is there a particular identity or experience you wish was touched upon more in fiction?
As I mentioned above I’m low income, but it’s incredibly rare for me to find YA books that even mention poverty, let alone have a low income protagonist.
Poverty is so stigmatized in the US, due to the whole “Work hard and you can live your dreams! Manifest destiny!” outlook. It’s viewed as shameful to be poor because it’s viewed as something that’s your own fault because you must be lazy. I can tell you that is not true. The poor often work harder than anyone. Many of the poor, in fact, are women and children, many of whom have escaped domestic violence and that is how they ended up poor or homeless–because they were forced to choose between poverty and violence/possible death.
I think if we had more literature reflecting the experiences of low income individuals, it would go a loooooooong way to fighting this stigma.
So, yeah. That’s my spiel and I’ll keep fighting for more representation of poverty in literature and media.
Do you think diversity is important to booktubing/book blogging?
First off, if we don’t have #ownvoices reviewers to review books containing their particular marginalization, how do we know a) that that representation is fairly accurate and b) that representation is not perpetuating negative stereotypes?
Second off, it’s important to see examples of intelligent, literate marginalized people.
What are some of your favorite blogs/resources about diversity?
Oh there are so many! First and foremost, I want to say there are some amazing diverse book bloggers on Twitter doing a great job of educating and speaking up. I’m particularly proud to mention my friends Fadwa, Shenwei, Anjulie, Tatiana, and Lauren, among many others! Just look around the bookish community and you’ll find many of us who are marginalized speaking up, you just have to look. I’d say that turning to actual individuals is the best resource for insight you can get. Beyond individuals, though, I’m particularly fond of Disability in Kid Lit (a resource on disability representation) and #WeNeedDiverseBooks (which talks about all kinds of diversity).