For my Man Crush Mondays and Woman Crush Wednesdays I try to make them more diverse because I honestly hate the lack of color on my blog, especially since I, myself, am a person of color.
That being said it’s difficult to find characters that are in fact POCs. I’ve recognized this problem in literature before but it becomes abundantly clear when you’re actively look for people of color in your favorite books and can’t find them.
When i first realized this problem my first thought was, “I need to read more diverse books.” Now, this is a fair thought and in the future I will make more of an effort to diversify my reading. But then I had another thought: “Maybe there just needs to be more diverse books.”
I’m not writing this blog post with any stats to back my claims but just on my own general experience the lack of diversity in books, fiction specifically, is sub par at best. And the books that do have a POC they’re almost never the main character. Instead they’re the secondary character. They’re the best friend, the enemy, occasionally the love interest, and sometimes just someone whose name appears once as if to complete some diversity requirement.
As someone who mainly reads young adult fiction I find this lack of color disappointing at best, a serious problem at worst.
— Aisha Saeed (@aishacs) May 2, 2014
Why is it so hard for me to find a teen book that has a person of color as the main character? And why is it when I do it’s not in the “Teen Fiction” section but instead in “African-American Literature,” or “Asian American Novels,” or “Hispanic Books”? Why is it that as soon as it’s written by an author that not’s white it can’t be classified as just a book but as something specialized that needs it’s own section and should be segregated from other books?
If I write a book about a girl dying with cancer who falls with a boy who also has cancer will it be put in a different section than The Fault In Our Stars just because I’m black? And one could argue that it’s good we have our own section. That it makes our books stand out but it shouldn’t be that way because by separating books like that it inherently makes readers think that “those books” are something different. Something foreign. Something not to be read by someone other than of that race.
Therefore when we do have diverse books it’s hard for them to get the same acclaim and sell as many books as books with white protagonists because only people of color are reading books by people of color and that’s just wrong.
This being said I encourage you all to diversify your reading. Read outside of your comfort zone and show your support for more diverse books by tweeting your thoughts on the subject with the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. There’s also a Tumblr page dedicated to the cause and it’s not only about color/race but also about getting more books that discuss disabilities and the LGBTQ community as well. It’s a great movement and you should be a part of it.