DISCUSSION: Why Promoting Diverse Books Is Important

I’ve written many posts about why we need to read diverse books, how to properly write diversity and such, but after reading May’s post I realized that I never wrote anything about why we should be promoting diverse books.

i know, SHAME

Before you read my post, check out May’s because she’s part of the minority group and is able to speak about why diversity matters and why we should promote diverse books better than I ever could.

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Diversity is something that has been overlooked time and time again. When it appears in TV, movies, books, etc. minorities are either happy to finally see themselves represented or they’re represented in a bad way and lash out.

also, if somebody says that rep is harmful, it probably is and you should listen to them

Those that aren’t part of the minority see the inclusion of diverse characters in their entertainment as a sort of ‘invasion’ and constantly describe it as being ‘shoved down their throat”.

What they don’t think of is the fact that white straight Christians is what is considered the ‘norm’ in most forms of entertainment. This is very harmful to minorities that are desperately trying to find a way to see themselves as normal and part of the world.

When they don’t see anybody on TV that looks like them, has the same sexual orientation as them, or has one religious belief that thinks it’s the ‘superior’ belief, they can’t help but think that they’re wrong.

But then there’s always the counterargument of “oh there are plenty of diverse characters in ____ !” *points to the back where there’s an Asian doctor* “Right there! That’s diversity!! You just choose to ignore it and make something out of nothing.”

hyungwonmeme

i had to put in hyungwon in here xD he’s such a meme

The problem is, even if there are a few diverse characters scattered around Hollywood films, when are there EVER diverse characters as the MAIN character that saves the day??

Wait. Let me re-phrase that. When are there ever diverse characters as a main character that isn’t a living stereotype? It’s so freaking rare.

And when there ARE diverse characters as the leads they’re indie films or don’t get the attention that Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise movies do. The same goes for books.

Not only is the publishing industry very bad at diversity (but is getting better) but marketers don’t seem to care about diverse books over the new Colleen Hoover or Kasie West.

i don’t have anything against West besides her very straight white characters on all of her covers – Hoover however, i’ve never read any of her books but i’ve read enough snippets to know to stay far away from them

The diverse books not getting nearly enough of the spotlight as non-diverse books is like saying that getting these books out in the world for audiences to read isn’t as important.

It is important. So important.

important

do you get the message now?

Imagine growing up and not being able to see yourself in the entertainment you consume. Imagine only seeing an Asian character as somebody that’s good at math so you feel like you need to be like that as well. Or seeing only black characters as drug dealers and thinking “oh, well, I guess that’s how I’m supposed to be then…”

Same goes for Religion, Sexuality, and Mental Illness. Misrepresentation is harmful, simple as that.

It’s important to promote the diverse books that have good rep so that the minority will have characters to relate to, characters that they can see themselves in. So that they know that they belong in this world as something positive, as someone normal.

I’m not the best person to be spreading this message since I’m not diverse myself besides being part Native American, but I’ve read stuff from other bloggers that have dealt with racism, homophobia, etc. their entire life. Reading what they have to say about representation in the media and how important (I know, I’m over-using this word) it is to them really opened up my eyes.

Just looking at the books in B&N that are put in the front window or the TV shows that are promoted more than others, it’s very clear that diversity isn’t something that’s promoted as much as it should be.

Now, it’s time for me to promote some diverse books, authors, and bloggers!)

herewego

best joker ever

**note that i will only be listing books/authors that i believe don’t get the promotions they deserve**

**also note that not all of these will be books/authors i’ve read**

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Authors:

  • Cindy Pon. The only book of hers that has gotten proper exposure (only due to the amazing online book community – go us!) is her most recent release Want. I honestly thought she was a debut author but nope! She’s been published since 2009!
  • Anna-Marie McLemore. Her books have only been getting the exposure they deserve – again – because of the wonderful online book community.
  • Jason Reynolds. People keep on overlooking him??? HE HAS SO MANY BOOKS OUT (I haven’t read any, but I really want to). They all sound so important. Unfortunately, the book community doesn’t promote his books much either…
  • Nnedi Okorafor. Her books honestly sound amazing, but the only one that’s been getting any promotions is her newest release, Akata Warrior. But she’s been published since like, 2005!

Books:

  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I am still so salty over this. This is one of the best books released in 2017 but the only way it’s been given exposure at all is because of me and some fellow blogger friends. I only hope that her future books get more exposure.
  • Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh. This book sounds so freaking amazing but, again, the only reason it got exposure is due to us book bloggers. And still it didn’t get much exposure like it should.
  • Noteworthy by Riley Redgate. I only know about this book – and it’s diversity – from two or three bloggers I follow. That’s it. I haven’t seen anything about it anywhere else.
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone. This had some hype before it came out but after?? NOTHING. WHY DID PEOPLE STOP TALKING ABOUT IT???

Bloggers:

  • May @ Forever and Everly. The inspiration for this post and the most down-to-earth blogger out there. Give her all of the Thai characters because SHE DESERVES THEM OKAY??
  • Lia @ Lost in a Story. If I were to pick one blogger friend, she’s always the first to come to mind. She reads and writes so diversely; an ace queen.
  • Ilsa @ A Whisper of Ink. She deserves all of the love from you guys because she’s amazing. Muslim and deserves all of the ice cream.
  • Fadwa @ Word Woonders. Diversity advocate that has the best reviews EVER. She’s the best and you should all follow her.

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Where do you stand on diversity? Do you think that diverse books get enough exposure? Do you think otherwise? 

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35 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: Why Promoting Diverse Books Is Important

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  5. Great post and great recommendations! I agree wholeheartedly wity everything you said. When people are used to seeing themselves, they take representation for granted and thus consider diversity diversity superfluous, whereas a lot of us are desperate for it.
    Also, thank you soooo much for including me 💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lia

    Aww thank you for the shout-out ❤
    This is such a good post! I loved it! We should definitely try to promote diverse books more!
    Also, did I just spot a Lizzie Bennet Diary GIF :O

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As someone who is a minority, I have very complicated feelings about this. Obvi diversity is great and I love seeing non-stereotypical Asian representation, but is it really fair to expect straight, white authors to write about non-straight, non-white characters? I know that some of them try, but a lot of times it comes off feeling inauthentic imo. I feel including a “token Asian” is even more harmful than not including an Asian character in the first place. We need more diverse books, but I think that’s only a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is that we need more diverse authors. I wish the conversation centered more around that than pressuring every author to include more diversity in their books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebookprophet

      Diverse authors are definitely what’s the most important, you’re right. But some authors that aren’t part of the minority do a good job with the rep as long as they get feedback from people that are from the minority and take their advice to make their work better.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. god, Savannah. this is SUCH. A GOOD. POST. UGH. 💕 you’re totally right about there being diverse secondary characters, which is awesome, but we need more diverse main characters!! and then with your point that diverse books with a lot of diverse characters DON’T get a lot of attention!! and it’s like WHY. it’s so important to read diversely & it’s so importantfor diverse readers to find the rep they’re looking for.

    and YESSSS with Starfish! I wish there was even more hype for it because it was AMAZING and I loved it so so much. that book means the absolute world to me as an Asian reader and I just,, djslfklalfls. also thank you SO MUCH for the shout-outs, you’re amazing and I love you!!! 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebookprophet

      Thank you!! And YESSS although there are a lot of ‘diverse’ books out there, it’s VERY rare where the main character is diverse themselves. The fact that Starfish is so important to you as an Asian reader since you can see yourself in the main character is the entire reason why more books like that need to get the attention they deserve. You’re awesome, love ya 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The good thing is I have noticed a lot of diverse reads being released lately – especially in 2017. My library had a whole DIVERSE YA section, which was awesome! It included most of the authors\books you mentioned too.

    I think a lot of writers just don’t want to step out of their comfort zone. Every writing class teaches you to write what you know, and so I’d imagine most people just don’t know how to write comfortably with something they don’t know. Understandable, but not condonable. I love doing that, but that might just be me.

    Personally, I am part of the LGBTQ community, but I’ve never been particularly vocal about it – for no other reason than sexuality doesn’t define your personality, so it’s never seemed like something necessary to point out. I also haven’t promoted a lot of LGBTQ books, which I think is solely because a lot of LGBTQ books are contemporary, which I don’t tend to read (I do like a few though – like anything Becky Albertalli or Foolish Hearts).

    But! I have seen an increase of diversity in fantasy books lately! Not always as far as sexuality, but in other places most definitely, which I love. So I do promote diversity, when it comes into my genre. Because I can speak honestly about it, if that makes sense? There are so many people talking about it, I’m sure we’ll get even more diverse books in the next few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebookprophet

      That’s amazing that your library has a diverse YA section!! The issue is – what people ‘know’ is always cis, white, and straight because of the lack of anything else portrayed in the media. Sensitivity readers, research, and beta readers are what that’s for, to help people write more diversely. There definitely needs to be more LGBTQ+ fantasy books! It’s something that’s SO RARE. Yeah that makes sense, though it should still be promoted as much as you can as long as you’ve heard it’s good rep and such 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true that most people know straight and white…but thankfully that’s slowly being pushed aside. I have yet to see a book with a well-represented bi\pan character, but I have read some amazing books themed around gay characters! And I’ve heard of a few with good trans rep recently, though I haven’t read any personally.

        Honestly, posts like yours make me so happy, because every time someone writes about LGBTQ+ rep it means something! Even if it only seems like one post, publishers ARE starting to take notice!

        Liked by 1 person

        • thebookprophet

          Adam Silvera writes great books where some of the characters are bi and I heard the rep is good – as well as the rep in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue 🙂 Yeah, slowly changes are being made

          Liked by 1 person

  10. ASDFGHJKL THANKS FOR LINKING ME ❤ You are the best okay.

    Have you seen the cover for Summer Bird Blue? GORGEOUS!! I agreee diverse books are so important!! I hate that most people in the media are white and growing up just seeinG ONLY WHTE PEOPLE is like "I don't exist" which is stupid and needs to stop. I do think YA is doing better with diversity though but we can always improve!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebookprophet

      YES OMG I SAW IT ON TWITTER YESTERDAY IT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING *HEART EYES* Even though I’m mostly white, I do have Native American heritage so my skin is darker and there are like NO native american rep in tv shows/movies/books, which is strange considering the fact that native americans used to rule America until they were, y’know slaughtered and all.
      ANYWAY. Yeah, it’s annoying. It makes minorities feel like they not only don’t matter, but like they don’t even exist. YA is doing amazing with diversity as of the last year! I’m excited to see it continually improve.

      Like

  11. Seeing the incredible movement in bookish blogs for better diverse representation reminds me of the studies about the Harry Potter series and empathy. When kids grow up reading and identifying books where characters support marginalized groups (even fictional marginalized groups, like mudbloods and house elves), they themselves show more empathy for marginalized groups. Diverse media is a powerful tool for fighting xenophobia and bias!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebookprophet

      Yeah exactly!! Although Harry Potter isn’t diverse like at all, I completely agree. When kids read books about accepting people of color, sexuality, religion, etc. then they start to accept them as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve been reading more diverse books this month and will keep trying to find more to read. It a bit crazy that it took me this long to do it. I don’t see myself as straight. But I just never knew where to find diverse books that I would like. All I ever come across is lesbian/gay love stories or contemporary books, which isn’t my cup of tea.

    Liked by 1 person

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