Diversity in Books // Why We Need it But Also How it’s “Wrong” (I’m Not Crazy, I Promise)

Before you start throwing rotten mangoes at me, let me explain.

I don’t think diversity in books is WRONG. NOT AT ALL. I just think that the way some authors and readers go about it is wrong.

NOW THAT THAT’S CLEARED UP, hello! Welcome to yet another discussion in which I am more rambly and ranty than ever. (I can’t help it with topics I’m passionate about.) I also tried to be witty but horribly failed, because passion and wit do not go hand in hand apparently??? #rude

Anyways, before I explode with a burst of words, I’d like to say: THANK YOU FOR 600 FOLLOWERS!!! This is the BEST “gift” ever before I leave on vacation tomorrow, and it makes me SO SO HAPPY to have hit another milestone this month! ❤

(And now begins the rant.)

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the meaning of diversity (TO ME)

I need to take care of this first and foremost.

To me, diversity means the representation of ALLLLLLL people.

If your book has a cast of all Indians—IT’S NOT DIVERSE. I know some people* think that diverse means “not white”, since white is the “default” (to take the words of the GLORIOUS SIMON VS.). BUT IT’S NOT. It’s representing alllllllllll people.

Also note that in a lot of historical fiction books, you can’t be AS diverse since ’twas different in the olden days. Sadly.

ALSO NOTE THAT THIS IS MY OPINION. You may think that having a cast of all Indians is diverse—great! Have your own opinion! I won’t shame you!!! *gasp*

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But theeeeen there’s the fact of #ownvoices BUT I WON’T GET INTO THAT BECAUSE IT’S #COMPLICATED.

*Or maybe NO people??? I don’t know what I’m saying at this point honestly.

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diversity as a reader

A touchy and very difficult topic. I’ve been wanting to talk about it on my blog because I have SOOOO many thoughts on it. Being a POC myself (#AsianPride), I am definitely all for diversity in books!

My thought is: If you’re talking about people in books, represent ALL people. You can’t make every character white, cis, straight, and Christian and have a realistic book. While a lot of people ARE white, cis, straight, and Christian (and I have nothing against them!!!), there are also other races, genders, sexualities, and religions.

BOOKS DEFINITELY NEED TO BE MORE DIVERSE. We readers need to read about other characters who are not similar to ourselves. Or we need to read about characters who ARE similar to ourselves.

I have yet to read a book about a Thai character. Is that a problem? UM, YEAH.

BUT. I’ve also yet to read books about characters from Kazakhstan, Mauritania, French Guyana, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Fiji, and more. And you know it’s bad when I had to use spellcheck on almost all of those countries’ names.

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I’ve yet to read books about characters who are asexual, pansexual, demisexual, or genderfluid. I STILL HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY LGBT+ TERMS THERE ARE. THAT’S NOT GOOD.

While diversity in books has become better represented and shown up more, we still need MORE diversity and BETTER represented diversity.

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diversity as a writer

“But May,” you may or may* not be saying, “what if I MISREPRESENT them??? That’s an even worse crime than not having diversity!”

True, true. Having diverse characters in books is HARD.** All you can do to make sure you represent them right is research research RESEARCH.

You’re probably not going to email someone you know who has a mental illness and say, “Hey, tell me all about your mental illness!!! It’ll be all fun and games!!!” While approaching people with personal experience is the best way to go about diversity… it’s PERSONAL.

However, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about Thai culture! What I know of it, at least. So it really depends on the person.

*HA. HA. HA. GET IT.
**Not in a bad way??? Like, it’s hard to create characters that are “out of the norm”, you know??? Also just a note that diverse characters should definitely NOT be hard to write… but we’re getting there. Ish.

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why/how diversity is “wrong”

I am NOT calling out anyone for this, but I’ve seen people judging books for how diverse it is. I’ve seen people choosing NOT to read a book because it doesn’t have diversity.

Diversity is supposed to be naturally incorporated in the book. Sure, if a book doesn’t have diversity, it’s not realistic. But it doesn’t mean it’s poorly written anything.

It’s lacking diversity, and that’s an issue.

But you can’t judge a book based on that.

I see writers struggling to put diversity in their book because they’re afraid it won’t fill some “quota”. It’s like diversity is a checkbox, and if you don’t check it off, your book will be shunned.

I’m sorry but no.

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Diversity is supposed to be NATURAL. In my current project, I have a character who’s Middle Eastern, who has a cousin who’s Asian. (I’m actually not sure if this is accurate oops.) But I’m not making them that way because I think they HAVE to be diverse.

I’m making them diverse because I naturally imagine them that way.

I’m talking about appearance in this case, but it’s not only in appearance. When you naturally imagine your characters as diverse, you can’t think of them anything but that. It’s like when you’re trying to make a character, for example, straight, but you feel they’re gay. Or vice versa.

If you’re forcing diversity into your book, that’s wrong.

IN MY OPINION!!!

So that’s why I think a lot of YA books are portraying diversity in the wrong way. They’re practically forcing themselves to make diverse characters, just to please an audience. Diversity should be natural in your writing.

And then YA readers are making it worse by criticizing how much diversity is in a book or isn’t.* Of course, books should be as diverse as possible, but you shouldn’t have to FORCE it into your writing. Because then do you want diversity in your book just to check a checkbox or because you truly believe there should be diversity???

*Misrepresentation, however, is a WHOLE other topic.

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how to fix this “problem”

Well, there’s really nothing you can do… except start seeing diversity as something that is natural. Start writing diverse naturally. Make diversity natural. Use the word natural a lot when describing diversity.*

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As a reader, you can also NOT criticize books for not having a certain amount of diversity. (I’m a full believer that there should be at least SOME diversity, though.)

As a writer, start reading more diverse books so that you become familiar to it, enough that you write diverse characters into your stories. Naturally, of course.

*But make sure to use the word natural very naturally.

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in conclusion

BASICALLY DIVERSITY IS AMAZING AND IT IS VERY MUCH NEEDED.

Buuuuuut it is also something you can’t “measure”—you have to have at least SOME diversity, but there is no amount that you have to (or SHOULD) aim for.

We have to be careful that we’re not expecting books to be diverse “just to be diverse” or “just to fill the diversity checkbox”. We need to expect books to be diverse, simply to represent all people.

But again, that’s just MY OPINION.

(And thus ends the ranty post.)

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Omg May just STOP.

shall we chat

i thought that my discussion were getting less ranty/rambly but NOOOO. anyways, what are YOUR thoughts on diversity? do you feel that sometimes it’s forced? do you think we need more diversity? why?  and how do you write about topics you’re passionate about without being ranty??? #struggles #plshelp

sign off 2.0

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195 thoughts on “Diversity in Books // Why We Need it But Also How it’s “Wrong” (I’m Not Crazy, I Promise)

  1. I totally agree – diversity should be natural! I’ve read so many books over the last year where you can tell they’re trying to put in diversity in every way possible just so they can say that a certain area is covered. It either doesn’t fit the story, is placed in with no context or backstory and just feels weird. Diversity is life and NOT a plot point!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. DUDE YOUR GIFS

    THEY’RE PERFECT 😂😂😂

    Diversity is definitely important — I’ve actually twisted history to add some in my “historical fiction” novel. 😂 So I don’t classify it as historical fiction. More like… Madi’s Twist on Historical Fiction! Totally a real genre! 😁

    Lol, I do feel that sometimes it’s forced. And it’s a little annoying when it is. 😂 Sometimes diversity is done wrong IMO… I just read stuff that’s diverse in a good decent way.

    and how do you write about topics you’re passionate about without being ranty??? — I don’t. I rant and annoy people. And offend everybody in the process, which is incredibly fun 😂😂 I mean nothing

    YOUR FONT YOUR FONT 😩😩😩 IT’S TOO PERFECT I’M DYING

    Madi

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAHAHA I TOLD YOU. 😛

      Oh yas Madi, I see we’re making a new genre. OKAAAAAY. I’M COOL WITH THIS. XD

      I totally agree! When it’s forced, the meaning’s off and it’s just really… WRONG. XD

      Omg I’m so afraid of offending people when I write rants??? But like I tried to say “IN MY OPINION” everywhere sooooo.

      WHICH FONT WHICH FONT

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey May! I really like this post!
    Representation is ssssuuuuper important, but UGH WHEN IT’S DONE WRONG IT IS A TRAINWRECK.
    Research, my dears, is the way to go! and haha I don’t know if you know this, but I’m half Japanese so #asianpride
    Also, mental illness is a tricky one to nail down. I’ve seen so many toxic tropes, especially on wattpad and stuff, so I think unless you are very committed to writing a person with a mental illness, or it’s super important to plot, you should avoid sticking a character in for just ‘diversity’. But that’s just in my opinion.
    But I am so glad that diversity is becoming more widely used. I’m seeing so many POC characters, people with different body types, beliefs, etc.
    anyway, I haven’t talked to you in a while. Are you doing Camp?

    Liked by 1 person

    • AYYYY GREY! *tacklehugs* What’s up?

      Omg yeees I’m more afraid of misrepresentation than not having rep at all.

      WHAAAAT YOU’RE HALF JAPANESE??? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THIS. Now I have to reimagine your face again. XD

      Omg YES mental illness is soooo haaard. I definitely think you should not stick a character with it into a novel just for diversity — you gotta be committed to representing it right!

      YES! I LOVE IT! We just have to be careful with how we implement that diversity. And YES WE NEED TO CHAT (leaving on vacay tomorrow though 😭). Yeah, I’m doing it? Wbu?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. THIS POST WAS VERY MUCH NEEDED!

    I feel as though diversity is thrown around SO MUCH in the book blogosphere, some of just get overwhelmed with all the terms #ownvoices and who you’re supposed to be supporting. Take All The Crooked Saints (Maggie however you spell it). It hasn’t been published yet BUT SO MANY ‘so-called SJW’ said ‘she’s stealing Mexican culture’ or something while others said ‘it’s not a stealing but using ideas and being inspired? I agree with the latter, of course, writers don’t have to write about themselves and THEIR cultures but research other diverse beliefs and lifestyles! But obviously, they must ensure the rep is 100% GOOD!

    Diversity is SO NEEDED! But, MY OPINION, a book shouldn’t be called out if it DOESN’T HAVE DIVERSITY. I’ve read some great books (HP, The Northen Lights, Mysterious Benedict Society etc…)which aren’t strictly ‘diverse’ but still in my favourites! Likewise, a book shouldn’t be Hyped JUST for the pure fact that it’s diverse (which happens so much) because diversity doesn’t always make the book great! It can still be boring, the plot could have flaws and the writing style is not your thing? So, diversity is SO IMPORTANT and should SOO be appreciated, but I feel sometimes, they’re SUCH a heavy focus on it, we forget the real joy of reading books just because the blurb sounded nice or something.

    And diversity these days has really just become a ‘selling point’ more than half the population of us book bloggers will probably get a book if it’s like SUPER diverse, right? And while I’m all for diversity, when it feels unnatural and forced AND USED A STORY LINE then I just hate it! If it’s added on and something normal (not the whole plot) then it feels natural! I feel like some plots lean on diversity for support but that shouldn’t be the case!

    Anyways, I loved how honest and wonderful this discussion is! It totally needed to be said, with everyone LOVING diversity, we need to show that sometimes it can have a bad affect. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY LONG COMMENTS!

    Liked by 3 people

    • TIME TO REPLY TO THIS OVERLY LONG COMMENT. *rubs hands*

      Omg YEEEEES All the Crooked Saints! I mean, I’d get it if it were published already and people had read the book and the rep was bad… but no??? It hasn’t been released yet??? Why are you talking about this??? And misrepresentation is always a fear — but we writers have to learn and research other cultures! How else would we be diverse if we stuck to only what we knew???

      Oh yes, I talked about that in my post as well! While I do think a book should have diversity as it’s an important reflection of the world, you definitely shouldn’t did a book if it’s not diverse. (Of course, if it’s talking bad about other races that’s a whole other story.) And yes, that’s why diversity is such a hard topic to talk about! It’s IMPORTANT and very ESSENTIAL, but at the same time… you can’t fault someone for not having diversity — because better that than twisting it all up and not MEANING the diversity, right???

      Yes! The focus of the story shouldn’t be the diversity — it should be the characters and the plot and all that. If it IS the focus, then you’re probably using diversity for the wrong reasons — to sell well, to check off a checkbox (instead of for the pure and simple reason to #represent).

      I’m so glad this discussion didn’t flop haha! I was so ranty omg. And WHAT THIS IS AN INSANELY LONG COMMENT!!! IT’S LIKE A MINI ESSAY!!! (I calculated and it’s 354 words — like a third of the usual amount of words my posts are???)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great topic , I agree that diversity is needed but should also be incorporated well in books , you don’t want it to feel unnatural .

    And I would like to hear more about your protect , I’m an Arab/Berber person and I have never read about a similar character , so that would be very interesting for me

    Liked by 1 person

  6. honestly?? I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. DIVERSITY SHOULD BE FREAKING NATURAL. Whenever I rant about this subject to people, I always point out that if you drew your characters ethnicities or nationalities (for example) from the proportions of today’s global population, THEY WOULD NOT ALL BE WHITE. For example — there’s a WHOLE lot of Asians in the world. There’s a WHOLE lot of black people in the world. Not everyone’s going to be white.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes exactly!!! There should be LOTS of rep from ALL people. I think that to portray the world realistically, you’ll have to include Asians and blacks and Latinos AND whites. (But not like… everyone’s white and then there are like three diverse charries.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Y E S
    T H A N K
    Y O U
    FOR THIS!
    This is exactly what I think! And I absolutely hate how some people hate on authors who don’t write ‘diverse’ enough. Like I’m sorry, but maybe it’s just not their expertise or… umm… their book isn’t about that??
    My book I’m writing has such diverse characters. There’s maybe one white person, but different ethnicity. The main character is half black, half white, then there’s a Korean american (who is also bisexual), and a hispanic who is gay, and maybe one white person in total.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my gosh, this is SO relateable! I think authors try way too hard as in including diverse characters, but I also agree that it needs to just be in there anyway! It should just feel natural to include different races and religions! idk.
    But on a lighter note, I went through my followed sites today and now I’m only following the blogs I actually read! (Aren’t ya’ proud?) XD
    ~Sammy

    Liked by 1 person

    • AGH YES, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, SAM!!! If you’re putting diversity in your novel JUST to have diversity… might as well not be there in the first place right??? It should definitely be natural!

      And YAS! Go you! I need to do that sometime… But it makes me feel so guilty! And I’m pleased that my blog is included. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Omg I agree SO HARDCORE.

    I feel people/bloggers/authors are scared to discuss diversity in books honestly, like you just did here, for fear of being shunned by the community.

    I agree when you argued that some authors use diversity as just another thing to check off their list because they want their book to sell well and not because they wish to incorporate diversity because they genuinely want to.

    And frankly, that line of thought of “diversity in books is not optional” makes it come across as really forced in their books and no longer ~natural~ as you said and I bet they feel resentful about it and no longer do the proper research and it comes off very contrived and not well thought out and that’s not the kind of diversity I want to read about.

    (also I really like your new header!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • YAS THIS POST IS SUCCEEDING AT BEING #RELATABLE.

      Oh, girl, I’m afraid that I’ll get some backlash, but I still think it’s important to talk about diversity! It’s very personal to me as well, sooo.

      YES. And it’s sad when authors do that! I mean I’m not saying they’re horrible people for doing it, but I think if you’re going to have diversity, you have to TRULY want it, and not just to check a checkbox or make their book sell well.

      I do think that diversity is essential in books, to represent people — but not in a way that forces you to… force it into your writing. And yes, I agree! When you’re in a situation where it’s like you HAVE to do something, you just get unmotivated to do it right.

      (Thank you! I’m so glad you like it!)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Awesome post! I think a book can also be diverse if it only includes characters that are all of a certain decent or sexual orientation (etc), if it discusses those topics, BUT it’s obviously better if you have a diverse cast of characters!!
    Natural diversity is something I am all for! THAT’S THE BEST.
    Hating on authors is definitely NOT okay, whatever you think they did or didn’t do. Don’t. Do. It. I think authors should be made aware of the lack of diversity but not in a mean way, just for future improvement ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! And yeah, books like that are definitely diverse! I just like to think of diversity representing ALL sorts of people, you know? 😛

      YES IF IT’S FORCED DIVERSITY, JUST DON’T DO IT. XD

      I know! It’s really not nice — and not specifically for diversity, just in general too. Authors are people too and they have feelings like we do.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. yesss, diversity is so important. i remember being really happy when i read the the heroes of olympus series, because there was a native american character, an asian one, an african american one, a gay one, and lea valdez (i forget if his mom was from mexico or spain or somewhere else, but you get the point). it was the most diverse cast i had seen, and it didn’t feel too forced.

    i’m working on a new story, and while i was coming up with the main characters, i imagined one to have an asian family, one to have a native american mom, one to be gay, and one to be bisexual, which is probably the most diverse cast i’ve made (kind of sad, i know). but i was thinking about how much fun they were going to be to write, because they were so different from characters i’ve made in the past.

    anyway, lovely post, and you’re very right about needing natural diversity in books. 🙂

    xo loren

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! HoO was VERY naturally diverse and it was AWESOME. I actually didn’t think about how diverse it was — which makes the point that it’s not forced and weirdly stands out! (And Leo’s mom’s from Mexico, I think. 😛 )

      Ooh, that sounds so awesome! I love how you just naturally imagined the characters coming from backgrounds like that — you know you’re doing it “right”! (Or what I call right, at least.) You’ll have to tell us more about that story! 🙂

      Ah, thanks! I’m glad you like it. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a really interesting topic! Next month I celebrate my first year as a writer so… in other words, I’m very inexperienced and my writing still comes out too black-and-white in morals, themes, etc. My diversity is also… pretty much non-existent. I think being a very new writer is a good excuse for lacking enough diversity. *gulp* Oh well, I have a long journey ahead of me, and plenty of time to explore diversity on the way.

    As for other books, yes, diversity is necessary. Every character cannot be the same! I enjoy fantasy because diversity just comes naturally, as everything is from a completely different world anyway. I just embarked on The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. (I’ve been saying that I would start this book for the past two years, shshshsh…) This book is epic!

    In contemporary books, yes, diversity is a key element for intriguing the reader. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, is a perfect example of a book with characters of all different ages, weaknesses, status, etc. It’s one of my favorite books of all time – I recommend it highly. 😀

    I completely agree with you, May, on not forcing diversity into books. It might be hard not to force in diversity, but when you think about it, it actually should be very easy to have natural diversity. Stories are about life, and LIFE IS FULL OF DIVERSITY. IT’S INEVITABLE. If you’re really, truly, honestly writing about life, diversity will be there. But… writing really, truly, and honestly takes maturity to master, and learning to have maturity takes a while, especially for us teens. 🙂

    However, May, I commend you for having such neat insight into such a difficult topic! I love your discussions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOW LONG COMMENT. XD

      Oh, congrats! And haha, you’re totally fine! You learn things as you grow and that’s totally okay! It’s part of the writer’s journey. 😉

      Speaking of diversity in fantasy — we need more of it! A lot of the characters in fantasy aren’t as diverse but it’s really not that hard??? XD (And good for you for getting onto that book in your TBR!)

      Oh, I think I’ve heard of that book! I’ll have to check it out. 😉

      Yes, it really should be easy to have natural diversity! Life is full of diversity, as you said, and if we’re writing life into our stories… diversity should be included about that. And oh gosh, don’t get me started on how hard writing is. *flails*

      Agh, thank you! I’m so glad this discussion was successful because I felt very ranty. XD

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, sometimes I get on a roll with thoughts and can’t keep the comments short. 😀

        Thanks! I definitely have benefited from the topics and discussions on this blog, because I love to explore the different importances of story-telling! (Yes, “importances” can be plural…)

        True, a lot of fantasy can lack diversity. Beyonders by Brandon Mull was really cool because he created different races of people that were completely unique, instead of sticking to the regular stuff like unicorns, dragons, etc.
        Plus characters need diversity in personality as well. A lot of fantasy protagonists are the same stereo-type.

        Totally check out A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! It’s amazing. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  13. YES YES YES. As also a POC, it’s become so accustomed in my head that white is the default, because we live in a country that carries a predominance of white people. But it is really stupid if people add in diversity just to fit the means of a check list, and honestly one of the main reasons why people do try to just fit in the checklist because we, as readers, have strove for diversity but just because it’s mentioned that someone is Asian, gay, or any other way that diversity is said, doesn’t mean that it’s #diversity.

    It’s also super important that people don’t fall into stereotypes: it’s not just in books, but in movies where the Asian stereotype plays out: always studying and getting high grades and nothing less than an A because otherwise you get an Asian F. I KNOW AS ASIANS OUR PARENTS HAVE HIGH STANARDS BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO US THEN JUST THAT. I was browsing through this one art website and I kid you not, a good portion of its writers were (!) Asian and who ended up entering the (!!) art field and not the (!!!) MEDICAL FIELD like everyone thinks we’re pushed to be. That kind of turned into a rant, but seriously: no stereotypes. ^.^

    xoxo Abigail Lennah

    Liked by 1 person

    • YESSS. White should NOT be the default but it isssssss (for me lol). And it’s really sad when people just add diversity in just to check that box off. Like no??? It’s either genuine or nothing.

      EXACTLYYYYYYYY. I mean I don’t have the strictest Asian parents but they still want me to get good grades — like other parents (should) do! And I SOOOO agree that there’s more to Asians than just grades. We’re like other races too??? And YES for that website because #BreakingTheStereotype!!! And dude I could rant about stereotypes any day with you. XD

      Liked by 1 person

    • You make good points. I live in a fairly diverse area – still predominantly white, but we have a good size Asian, Middle Eastern, and black populations. We have a smaller Hispanic and Indian population. I know that even with all the diversity around me, I would have trouble making sure I didn’t follow stereotypes. Partially because a lot of what I see (I work at the public library) fit into the stereotypes and partially because outside of online relationships, I don’t have a lot of diversity in my friends.

      I don’t have many friends to begin with because I’m pretty anti-social offline, but what friends I do have that I hang out with are pretty much all white. On one hand, I’m okay with that simply because I’m okay with the small group of friends I have and don’t necessarily feel the need to add more. Yet, on the other hand, I feel like I should be branching out more, but I also don’t want to be guilty of using a “checklist” mentality. I don’t want to have a black friend just to say I have a black friend (or Asian or Hispanic or Middle Eastern or whatever). I want it to be a natural friendship that develops.

      You’re so right that research upon research upon research needs to be done so that the characters do NOT become simply stereotypes. Stereotypes suck (perhaps that’s partially why I don’t do much writing outside of my blog – I’d hate to have stereotypical characters in my writing).

      Liked by 1 person

  14. THIS! I hate it when it’s so obvious when an author just added ‘diverse character’ to check it off their ‘diversity list’ It’s also a pet peeve of mine when readers criticise a book for not being diverse (enough). There’s a HUGE difference between a book not being diverse and problematic/having harmful rep. Harry Potter isn’t that diverse yet it’s the most beloved series in the community so?? Like you said it’s unrealistic but I’d rather have a book without any diversity than one with harmful rep :/ great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • YEEEES. Like what’s the point of having a diverse character if it’s just to check “diversity” off some “checklist”??? And yeah, HP definitely isn’t diverse (it WAS written when we weren’t so critical about it tho, lol) — and totally. It sounds bad, but misrepresentation is worse than having no rep at all. Thanks! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I would prefer a diverse character NOT be included if they are going to be misrepresented! You are so right that diversity is hard especially when you are a straight person trying to represent a whole host of alternate sexualities, so YOU MUST GET IT RIGHT… I also LOVE your definition for diversity: representing ALL people, especially in fantasy. The days of medieval European fantasy worlds are at an end!!! We can be more creative and more diverse than that! I do think though diversity can just be representing a single “fish out of water” race or sexuality. (Is it crazy I’m thinking of specific books as I write my thoughts on this?!)

    What a great discussion!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I really, really LOVE this post, May. Also, love how you’re mentioning diversity as a “checkbox” that some authors and some books feel like they have to fill in in order to be “okay”. Diversity should come naturally that’s for sure and it should not feel forced, nor put there and there just for the sake of it. It should be part of the characters you’re imagining, just like it is part of the world we live in! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yes, yes, yes! Now, I’m a white, questioning female, but what really related to me was not just the fact that we needed diversity, we need it to be natural. The whole “checkbox” thing that some authors and illustrators do to be “okay” is really annoying.

    I recently read a children’s book with where the child had two mommies, but it felt like the author was really forcing the diversity. In the first, the two mothers were white, the son was either black or Hispanic (black, I think), and the other two children were a white girl with red hair and an Asian boy. It seemed like there was a checklist almost. “Oh, we made it two mommies so they should have a son to balance it”. And then, “Oh, one more boy and one more girl will help keep it balanced and let’s make the girl have red hair so she’s not just “the norm”. ” It just seemed too forced. The prose in the book was great, but the illustrations seemed like they were a checklist of diversity. And it just seemed wrong.

    The same team made a second book with two daddies and they almost went to the opposite extreme, all of the characters are white, tho’ the daddies do have a daughter. There’s only one other child in the second book and he is white as well (with blonde hair). Again, it seemed wrong, but this time for the opposite reason – there wasn’t enough diversity.

    I’m not a writer outside my blog, so I can only imagine how difficult it is to be correct when incorporating diversity into a story line, but definitely agree that the “checklist” is NOT the way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m an Asian, questioning female haha! And YEEEES the checkbox part makes me so sad agagaghg.

      Oh, wow, yeah, if there’s an overload of diversity and it seems like they’re TRYING to make it that way I’m just like… *backs away*

      Whoa, that’s so weird??? Like there’s too much diversity in one book, and not enough in the other???

      Oh, writing is a struggle. XD But yeah, a checklist is NOT the way to go when you’re writing diversity! Thanks for commenting, Valerie. ❤

      Like

  18. I have a question – are any of you NOT in the US? If you’re in other countries, have you ever seen the “Culture Shock!” series of books? I was just wondering if they were any good or if they’re just rubbish. I checked one out dealing with Colombia as I have a little girl I correspond with down there. I *hope* they’re accurate, but I don’t know anyone who has read them who actually lives in a country other than the US so I don’t know how accurate they really are. Anyone else familiar?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Whoa, first of all, that was a really long conversation with Madi. I was scrolling down to comment and was thinking it was a long conversation. Then I kept scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. O.o How do you get people to actually comment??? I have followers and page views and I ask questions, but no one wants to talk to me! I’m being sarcastic, truly. But still, how?!?

    Oh, and I guess I should comment about the post, not just about commenting. It was very true. I LOVE writing diverse characters. Literally it’s my favorite thing. Just working out what they look like in general.

    ~ Pip

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yeah! We hadn’t talked in a long time. And we also had a roast-off. So we couldn’t stop. XD Well, WP is awesome because we get notifications when people reply to your comments! And in Blogger, you don’t. So… less conversations. XD But I just blog about topics I want and try to make it fun for people to read! 😛

      Oh yes, writing diverse characters is both awesome and fun! I definitely need to do more of it. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I love this discussion May, I think it’s a really important topic to discuss and I agree with pretty much everything you said as well. I love seeing diverse characters in books but I hate it when it feels like diverse characters have been added to the plot just to appeal to a certain audience. It feels unnatural and because the character development is wrong the story feels wrong as well you know? We need more diversity in books, like you said there are plenty of countries and cultures not represented in the book market, and plenty of LGBT+ identities as well, but it shouldn’t be a case of diversity for the sake of diversity.
    Research is really important when writing diverse characters as well, yes there are plenty of Own Voice books out there but plenty of diverse stories which aren’t Own Voices. You can write diverse characters and not be diverse yourself.
    Again great post May, I loved reading this and I am so glad you posted it. Also congratulations on 600 followers! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Okay, you get all the applause for being brave enough to address this because pfft I sure am not, even though I’ve wanted to for a long time! I totally agree with you on a lot of these points.
    Rant coming.
    I too have noticed that the definition of “Diverse” has been changed to “not white/straight/etc”- but that’s not what it means. Diversity, according to the dictionary, means: “the state of being diverse; variety” and “a range of different things.” So if a book has one latinx character and one black character and the rest are white and straight – it’s still diverse, even though people don’t want to admit it. Should there be people of lots of different races in a book? Um, duh! But, what exactly is wrong with having white characters? Nothing, because they’re people too, and as such fall under the “realms” diversity, because they’re *different* from every other race, and as such, contribute to diversity in the world and books. I think it’s troubling when books are dragged through the mud or criticized just because they’re not a “diverse” book.
    It’s good to have people of lots of different races, religions, etc. in a book, especially one that’s supposed to reflect the world, because that’s how the world its. But I also thing that making so-called diversity such a big deal draws attention away from, say, the plot and characterization and focuses solely on the fact that the main character is PoC, or the uncle is gay. Those types of occurrences are awesome, yeah, but they should occur because it’s natural and realistic, not to make a point of how “diverse” your book is. And when books are lauded and praised *just* for having, say, a “diverse (i.e., not white)” main character, that doesn’t make sense. Yes, if the MC is a PoC or has anxiety or something, awesome! Cool! But…that shouldn’t be the main focus of your book. It should just be.. what your character is! Not a statement.
    And I hate when people shame books that aren’t “diverse” enough, or make people feel bad for not reading or writing books that are “diverse” enough. What ever happened to reading what you like, reading a book because the synopsis sounds awesome and not *just* because the MC is Fillipina? What ever happened to writing the stories that you want to write, and including a *truly* diverse cast of characters, because that’s the natural and correct thing to do? Why does every book have to have a checklist of specific characters/races/orientations in order to be considered diverse and *good*?
    Anyway, that was long!! Fantastic post, May!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • WOW LONG COMMENT! XD I love it. And you should definitely talk about diversity on your blog one day!

      Yes, exactly! White and straight are the default and that’s not okay. Well I guess that would be diverse??? But like… not AS diverse. XD White characters are still part of diversity though! I think there should be like equal amounts of all races haha.

      Oh yes, I hate how diversity is always called out and shined on with a spotlight. I think we get excited because it’s like OMG DIVERSITY WE DON’T SEE THIS OFTEN!!! But it shouldn’t be bigger than plot or characters, I agree.

      I KNOW! I mean, OBVIOUSLY diversity is good but would you rather force it or have it be genuine??? (*whispers* GENUINEEEEE.)

      Thanks so much for the comment, Lenna! ❤

      Like

  22. I definitely think books need to be diverse! If they’re not, honestly it’s just downright unrealistic and also can be kind of disturbing…like is an author writing an all-white, all able-bodied, all-straight cast because they’re ignoring that there are other types of people in the world??! #NotOkay
    However as a writer myself I’m VERY aware that it’s crucial to write diversity accurately. I think you need to get it right or not do it at all, tbh, because it’s so offensive and often problematic when it’s misrepresented. Also totally to for “Token” diverse characters, so yay that book gets the lollipop for an effort. Nope! Meaningful, accurate, and well researched is a must! Authors can definitely write things they haven’t experienced, but they need to work a heck of a lot harder and get sensitivity readers and really really understand what they’re doing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES. A lot of parts of books are “pretend” (😭) and you have to make other parts realistic. Diversity is one of these things you have to make realistic! And yes, it’s like only writing about one type of person and it’s DEFINITELY not cool.

      AND YEEEEES. I’d rather not have diversity than misrepresent! Which is another reason why you shouldn’t shame the poor authors.

      Like

  23. I AGREE WITH THIS 10000000%.

    Also, I LIKE THE RAMBLINESS. I WISH I WAS AS RAMBLY. I TRY TOO HARD TO GET MY POSTS TO 1K *sniffs*

    YES. I AGREE. I definitely feel like a book shouldn’t be BAD if it doesn’t have diversity. Not having diversity is not realistic, and of course, it’s a problem, but that doesn’t mean that a book is BAD. Neither does it mean that a book is GOOD if it has diversity. I mean, sure, diversity is great but if a book is bad you shouldn’t give it stars or something because it has diversity. (When a book has diversity, I usually just mention that it has diversity or something but that doesn’t really impact my rating.) (Also, I keep on mispelling diversity as diveristy.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • BUT SOMETIMES RAMBLINESS IS TOO MUCH!!!

      OH MY GOSH YES! Just because a book is diverse doesn’t mean it’s better than a non-diverse book! Like why??? Diversity is obviously good but it doesn’t make it superior to books that don’t have it. (Yes diversity is obviously diveristy.)

      Like

  24. I struggle with diversity?? Like it feels so… Overdone. Like it’s just there to be there, you know? Also I only write what I feel God as laid on my heart to write and.. idk when he will put what in my head? (Although considering I write about faeries and do faeries have ethnicities?) I did picture Sliver (from ABD) as being Asian so…

    Although recent developments in my writing life: apparently… Like neurologically atypical wizards are my new thing?? Explain?! I guess because I’m​ a bit neurologically atypical?

    AND YES DIVERSITY DOESNT MEAN ANTI-WHITE. As a white girl, you know, I sometimes feel like I’ve committed a crime for being the majority… O.o

    I want to read a book set in Belgium! Or Ireland. Love those places.

    Also love your new header, even more each time I look at it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do think that diversity should be naturally there! However, I think it’s “overdone” because we have to research so that we don’t misrepresent. XD AND SLIVER??? ABD???

      Dude my friend is like “ugh I’m so white” and I’m like why’s that a problem??? I mean a lot of whites judge “non-whites” but don’t feel bad for being white!!!

      YES DIFFERENT SETTINGS PLEASE!

      And aww THANK YOU! <333

      Like

      • A BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, HUMAN. THE NOVELETTE I WROTE. THAT MAY/MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED AND MAY/MAY NOT HAVE A SEQUEL IN THE WORKS.

        wha-a? I mean, we can’t help our skin color? no one can! so?

        I GET SO TIRED OF ALL BOOKS EITHER BEING IN THE US OR BRITAIN I MEAN I LOVE BOTH PLACES BUT FOR ONCE CAN THIS BOOK TRANSPORT ME TO MAYBE NEW ZEALAND OR SOMETHING?

        each time I look at it I think of mango ice cream and um. it makes me smile.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’M SORRRRRRY. I TOLD YOU I WOULD GET TO IT BUT I’M ON VACATION NOW AND I DON’T HAVE MY COMPUTER. *cries* Deadline is July 15th right???

          I know! I ADORE the UK (and I guessss the US XD) but I want to see more places!!! Though I think it’s set in the places where authors live just because they don’t want to stereotype the people that live in a different country. XD

          Like

  25. I won’t get into this diversity topic just because I have never ever actually paid attention to whether a book is diverse or not for my reviews. I usually take a look at characters, setting, plot, intro, conclusion, and etc. So, yeah, I think diversity is needed in a book, but I don’t need it to enjoy a book. But one book that definitely had diversity, and one that I enjoyed, was “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I totally recommend it if you have the time. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Oh my word, that is put so perfectly. Thank you for saying this! I have been thinking of diversity this way for so long, it feels so amazingly wonderful to hear it from someone else. It drives me nuts when people praise a book for being “so diverse”, and list nothing else good about it, and then I read it, and there really is nothing else good about it. (I can’t think of any book examples right now, but I can think of a few movies.)
    I’m white and straight, but I’m a type 1 diabetic. Do you want to talk about lack of diversity and world-wide ignorance and stereotypes? We’ve got it bad. Do I blame people for not putting a diabetic in their books? Absolutely not. It’s a full-time, very demanding, very dangerous, and very complex disease–not to mention every person suffers from and handles it differently.
    I want a good book with diversity no one needs to talk about becomes it comes as no surprise that it’s there. I want a book with diversity where no one talks about it because why wouldn’t it be there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh YES. I hate when books are given five stars JUST for diversity… when there was nothing else great about it??? Like yes it’s important but doesn’t make a bad novel good.

      WE NEED MORE DIABETIC CHARACTERS!!! Everyone focuses on everything but I have never read a book with a character with diabetes. And gossssh, I hate misrepresentation more than lack of diversity. 😭

      I want a book with diversity where no one talks about it because why wouldn’t it be there? <– I AGREE SO SO SO MUCH.

      Like

  27. JUDGE JUDY! *is that one weird girl who watches TV with her grandma* *and knows random stuff* (Just so you know, the last GIF, the eye-roll one, was Judge Judy, who is like a judge who has her own TV show and my grandma watches it and … yeah …)

    i thought that my discussion were getting less ranty/rambly but NOOOO. anyways, what are YOUR thoughts on diversity?:
    I think it’s important to include where it’s realistic. I tried to be somewhat racially diverse in my books … but I didn’t really succeed. Because, like you said, historical fiction doesn’t allow it in a lot of cases. Especially when you set a book in England … so yeah. My characters are all ‘white.’ Maybe someday I’ll write contemporary, though … and then I won’t be so darn racist … 😉

    do you feel that sometimes it’s forced?:
    Yep, definitely! I mean, I don’t read a ton of contemporary fiction … but yes, I do feel like it would be forced and it has been forced in the book I have read.

    do you think we need more diversity? why?:
    Kinda. I get frustrated when the only diverse characters in a book are African American. I think people of African American decent should be included in books … but also people of, say, Hispanic decent. Especially since I know so many people who are of Hispanic decent (I think I’m being non-racist here, right? I have no clue … I’m so awkward, May, help!) and I feel like they aren’t always reflected in fiction.

    But yes, I read so little contemporary fiction that I might be missing it all.

    and how do you write about topics you’re passionate about without being ranty???:
    No idea. I’m the exact same way. Probably worse than you though, haha …

    Okay, so … I just feel like I ought to say … I don’t really read a lot of diverse books for the simple reason that I have a less popularly accepted set of morals … and so … yep. A lot of the diverse stuff doesn’t work for me. I love reading about racially/culturally diverse people (because I am soooo boring and I want some interesting people in my life more than anything, I’m afraid … that’s probably selfish …) when I get a chance, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I KNOW JUDGE JUDY!!! I mean I don’t watch it but I knew that was her in the gif!!!

      Yeah, historical fiction is hard with diversity! Especially at a time when blacks were inferior to whites, etc. I think that’s a limit that’s okay because you don’t want to make the book EXTREMELY unrealisitc just for the sake of diversity.

      Gah, it’s SOOOO forced sometimes and it makes me cry. Like please make it genuine or don’t have it at all, okay???

      Yeah, diverse characters are supposed to represent ALL characters. So not just Africans, but Asians and Hispanics and… yeah I ran out. XD (I THINK YOU’RE BEING NON-RACIST IT DOESN’T SEEN LIKE YOU’RE BEING RACIST.)

      Ah, I see. It’s still important to be open-minded (not that you aren’t!!!) when reading about others, but not to the point where you’re REALLY uncomfortable about what the book’s about. XD

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aw, really? I had no idea anyone knew who she was … but I guess it’s a TV show … so yeah.

        Yes, I could introduce people of different races and such, but … yeah … I would really sacrifice a lot of the historical integrity …

        (YAY I AM NOT RACIST! Though I come off as racist sometimes … but then I mostly just stereotype Irish people … so yeah … 😉 )

        Yeah, I agree with you.

        Liked by 1 person

  28. I totally agree. Diversity is LIFE and so should be a part of books/writing because isn’t that life too?! And yes, it should be natural. I think some people are so surrounded by their own little world that they are ignorance of what exists beyond that.

    For instance, Because my family lives a slightly alternative life, we travel a lot, living in all types of unique circumstances. At one point, we were living in our little van, called Mo, which is built on the back of a classic car, we met a kid and told him about about the way we live. He called us homeschooled tramps! I imagine that the way he lives has taught him to judge people by unimportant things and be prejudiced against people that are different. But my way of life, which he seemed to find disgusting, has taught me to be understanding, caring and compassionate.

    This was a fantastic discussion post, May!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Wonderful post with many great points! I agree that lately, it seems as though YA genre books in particular, the authors appear to be writing to satisfy a checklist, rather than actually incorporating and utilizing the diverse races and cultures they include like the way they could. I also think you’re right that people confuse diversity with stories about people we just haven’t seen yet. Like you said, having a cast that is entirely one race (white or not) is not actual diversity just because the characters happen to be POC and not white. I want diversity, but I want it to feel natural and inclusive for all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Bentley! I HAAATE tthe checklist thing because it makes it seem like diversity is “something that needs to be done”and won’t be written in the same way if it’s thought to be TRULY needed! Yaaas we TOTALLY need diversity that represents alllll people — that’s the only diversity we’ll be satisfied for! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Wow! Great post! I agree with a lot here. Of course diversity is important, but it does sometimes feel like authors have a checklist while they’re writing. There was a book I read recently that had 1 lesbian character, 1 immigrant, 1 black character, and 1 gay character – but all of them were side characters that could have been purple and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference because they weren’t prevalent in the story so it just felt forced. Does that make sense? I hope I’m not wording something wrong. It just felt like the author had a checklist, went in during edits and just added in those descriptors. the end. you know? ANYWAYS. This was wonderfully put and entertaining to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Molly! And AGH I totally get you! A lot of diverse characters are all written as side characters (not all, but a lot!), and , like you said, aren’t very important to the characters and just… there! Which makes you think WHY IS THIS HERE IF NOT FOR DIVERSITY’S SAKE? XD Thanks so much for commenting, and I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      Like

  31. Yes yes yes yes yes thank you THANK YOU for addressing such an important topic!!!! There are so many authors that feel like they’re just forcing in non-straight characters to seem cool. Which makes no sense. Like you said, it depends on the character. I was trying to write a gender fluid character but he seemed more bisexual than gender fluid: so he changed. (Also side note: Magnus chase and the hammer of Thor actually has gender fluid and pansexual characters – and no one treats them any differently. This is why rick riordan is great.)
    Another thing which gets on my nerves is people pretending to be gay just for attention. It’s not about books but I just had to say it. (Tumblr, I’m looking at you.)
    Great post!!!!! Like all others before and after it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! Like if you’re going to have diversity, be GENUINE about it and don’t force it into your writing just for “diversity’s sake”! AND OMG YES RICK RIORDAN IS AMAZING AT DIVERSE CHARRIES!!! AND EVERYTHING ELSE!!!

      And ugh yes. Please stop. It’s annoying and really quite offensive.

      THANKS!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. I’m completely agree with all of your points mentioned! When diversity starts to become forced, it feels unnatural. If the author isn’t comfortable or knowledgable with said diverse character, there’s a huge chance that they’ll simply be a label without anything that makes them who they are or they’ll be a caricature. Both of which aren’t that great.

    Books are supposed to be about character dynamic, and you can’t have that if that author feels forced to write them. More often than not, diverse characters end up as someone that is in the book – but not really there. As you said in your post, they’re reduced to a check mark.

    Fleur @ Fleur Henley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, unnatural diversity is horrible! It just FEELS wrong and you can tell that something’s off — and that’s not a very good feeling to have while reading.

      YEEEEES. When diversity is forced, the diverse characters are there, but not essential to anything. Which is like, why are they even there???

      Liked by 1 person

  33. I absolutely agree with this post! I feel like it’s rare to find books that don’t force diversity into the book. For example, you rarely see YA books that are compromised of a bi-racial love story in a way that doesn’t involve one character not being too keen about it. Also, I agree with what you said in the beginning of the post about diversity applying to ALL people. I feel like people just look at the obvious two options even though this whole world is made up of many well and not well known types of people and cultures. You deserve allllll of the mangoes for this well-constructed rant!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually feel like I read a lot of books where the diversity isn’t forced! I mean there are still some where it’s just like AGH, but there are others that are pretty good about it! Yes I know! White and straight have become the default and that’s not really the case??? It annoys me ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. UGH why is this post so sadly true? Diversity is always so forced and I hate it I hate it I hate it. A lot of people don’t even realize I think…Oh yes and I LOVE your new header to your blog. It’s so gorgeous but omg it’s so weird seeing a different one on your blog! Now I’m just thinking about your blog and remembering when you were just starting it, and awwww IT HAS GROWN SO MUCH *JOYFUL SOBS*. (I feel like I’m talking about a kid hahaha.) Okay idk why but I feel the necessity to bookmark your blog just because it’s so amazing and I love reading it so much. (nope I definitely do know why!) Yep guys, I’m a dedicated and true Forever and Everly fangirl; the real deallllllll.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I AGREE WITH ALL OF THIS!!! Like, while books with casts that are all one POC race are great, and badly needed, representation, they’re still not diverse, and that’s not a bad thing. And yes, forced diversity sucks, and while it’s great that the author thought to include it, it still sucks. Characters being lgbtq+ or pocs shouldn’t be a big deal.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that we need books that represent a lot of different people, but like a novel set in historical China just isn’t gonna have too much diversity, however, if it’s set in the contemporary west there’s reall no excuse not to include diversity.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Oh yep! I’m currently working on a lose retelling of mulan where she’s like two people instead of one??? Like that sounds really weird, but uh, hear me out… Basically the essence of mulan or the parts of her story are carried out by two people instead of just one…. Argh this is probably confusing… Basically the protags are these twins, one’s a boy, his name’s Keung and the other’s a girl named Huan, and their parent’s are magical refugees that fled China for the US… haha yeah… I’d go on, but it’d make this comment monstrously confusing and long….

            Liked by 1 person

  36. I feel like vaguely called out??????? the true question is does that mean for #ownvoices I can give everyone mental illness???? I feel like that’d be a pretty lit time.

    and if I’m being honest because I’m horrible person I won’t read books if they don’t meet the diversity quota. #sorrynotsorry. And I’m sorry for being a bad wife but I like can’t finish books any more if they have some of them lit white Mary Sue characters with semi abusive gross love interests. bye. I need to steal some of your patience :'((((

    (also is it sad I can probably list off like 99.9999% of the sexualities?????? I think so.)

    this is a really controversial comment. I think. I’d like to apologize in advance and say I have no idea on any subject matter in diversity besides mental illness. have a nice day.

    Like

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