I realize this campaign has been going on for a while, but I’m only now finally sitting down to write about it. I first came across it on Facebook, where I saw John Green’s message to writers and readers, after which I started following the campaign more closely and realizing how many of the popular books in the market that people devour and drown themselves in lack that simple thing.
While I was growing up, I always had a fancy for folk tales and fairy tales, stories of legend and mythology, not only from my own culture, but from all over the world. Besides the titanic cavern that is the depth of Indian mythology, I also loved folk tales of Russia, Greece, Japan, West Africa, and Native Americans, in addition to the European fairy tales that all of us know of. I suppose the idea of diversity being lacking in books didn’t hit me earlier because I never even thought about it. But when I did, I saw it everywhere: in popular literature, television, film, everywhere. I’m seeing people of different cultures being misrepresented, or not shown at all. And I’m not even just referring to nationality. This includes people of different colors, races, languages, sexualities, beliefs, abilities and disabilities, so much more.
There are so many kinds of people out there, and there are a lot of things that make us all different from each other. Diversity and differences at our core nature are things to be embraced, and not feared. Every person should be able to see themselves in the stories they read, and that can only be done if we, as writers, take the effort to tell their tales properly and with justice. People are not tokens, they are not stereotypes, they are not cliches, and it’s wrong, and moreover, hurtful, to represent them that way.
And they’re annoying. Honestly, they are. More than a buzzing alarm on a Monday morning.
So yes, #WeNeedDiverseBooks. And we need diverse writers writing these books for grownups and children to read. You owe it to your readers, and as a person who is a part of this widely diverse world, you owe it to yourself. Go crazy. And get scribbling.