I #SupportWNDB – The Series: WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT DIVERSITY?

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What’s the Big Deal About Diversity?

Thelonious Legend

Why do people make such a big deal about diversity? Why is it so important that a protagonist in a movie or novel be black?  What does it matter if there are no Native-American themed dramas on television? I would argue that there is a strong correlation between diverse content, identity, and self-worth. What I mean is that it is important…no, it is imperative for children of color to see and read about strong characters that they can identify with. Characters that give them a sense of identity, expand their dreams, and increase their self-worth. What do I have to bolster my argument?  How about a few images…

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I can’t think of an image more powerful than the first family on this night, Election Day 2008. Close your eyes and imagine this image through the eyes of a child of color. Keep your eyes closed and imagine the possibilities that same child of color is dreaming about after seeing this. It was an incredible moment and will be forever etched in my memory.

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Space. The final frontier. My wife is an AKA and has, on occasion, reminded me, “We got sorors in outer space!” Can’t argue with that. This picture expands the dreams of millions of young girls just as much as it creates a pathway to make those dreams a reality. What American is not proud of the accomplishments of Mae Jemison? Her journey to the stars was a historical achievement, but her journey to the hearts and minds of children is what their dreams are made of.

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Is there another image that contains as much power, grace, and beauty as this one? Don’t discourage children with your perceived limitations because YOU lack imagination. Challenge them. Thanks to Misty Copeland, how many girls want to be ballerinas today? I don’t have an answer for that, but I bet it’s more than before Ms. Copeland arrived on the scene. Ya’ feel me?

And what about novels? If these images can have a positive affect, would not words be just as, if not more, powerful? And if novels are about expanding the dreams of our children, then let them dream of being heroes. But where are our heroes? Where is our black Harry Potter? Our Latina Katniss? If, like my wife says, “We got sorors in outer space!” then can we not have minority heroes between pages? Well, we can and we do but you won’t find these books being produced by traditional publishing houses. You have to look at self-published titles for diverse books that mirror the real world. And if you want more than “Fund the change you want to see” stop demanding that authors like JK Rowling include more diverse characters in their works. It’s not fair to Mrs. Rowling or conducive to the creative process. And if, like me, you believe diversity, identity and self-worth are related and matter, then show the courage of your convictions and let us hear your voice. What say you?

Please consider assisting our efforts to diversify everyone’s bookshelf by donating to We Need Diverse Books fundraising campaign by clicking —> HERE – it’s vital, folks.

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Thelonious Legend, boring IT guy by day but at night Jonesing for that pen and paper. I gots to write! And the world I create is filled with children of color who have super powers, tell jokes, play basketball, and want to be popular. Oh yeah, and they beat up bad guys.  You know what it is.

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10 thoughts on “I #SupportWNDB – The Series: WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT DIVERSITY?

    • That’s interesting because if it was her intention to make her characters multiracial, I don’t really think Collins did a great job of it. I read the books long before I ever knew Lawrence would be playing Katniss, but never once in my mind was she anything but white. But maybe this was a product of my own prejudice since when reading white authors, I tend to assume their characters to be white since so few tend to step outside of their comfort zone.

      • Read the books and loved them but the point I was trying to make is the protagonist and/or hero is not a person of color. And I’m not faulting the author. My point is if you want diversity than support the authors that write diversity. That’s all…

      • I did too at first (mostly since I got used to “olive skinned” being a catchall term for “white person with a tan.” She spoke on it somewhere, kind of forgot by now, but she’s always written diverse characters from the tv show, the mystery files of shelby woo, to her first series, Gregor the Overlander, which featured a black main character going on an alice in wonderland type adventure. I read it when it first came out back in early 2000’s. It’s more middle grade than THG but it’s still really good and was actually quite popular. Nobody talks about it now though… I would love for it to be made into a tv series but I’m worried it will get whitewashed. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0439435366

  1. Great post by Thelonious. I agree with everything he said. I also think supporting diversity in literature by purchasing diverse books encourages more diversity in literature. Perhaps that is a worthy place to use your funds as well and you get to read great books at the same time.

    • Wait – Clare doesn’t have that much diversity in her stuff either, does she? Or is it all once again going right over my head?? She’s got Jem (who I love) (madly) and the Magnus and Alex…is there more? Because there are a shit ton of characters and honestly, I thought damn near every one of them was white.

      • Oh I wasnt referring to how many diverse characters there were. I was referring to how Cassandra was quick to shoot down the naysayers/fans. As far as ive gotten in the series, there’s only been raphael (who seems latino, possibly mestizo?) Jem (half English-white and half chinese). Maia (half black half white) and obviously Magnus, who’s indonesian. Alex is white, but queer too 🙂

        Cassandra still only has them as side characters compared to a sea of white main characters, but she still defended it when the fans disagreed with her.

        Upon being asked, Suzanne, as awesome as she is, didnt assure fans that katniss could’ve been anything but white.

  2. Totally forgot about Maia and Raphael, mostly because they’re so minor. But sadly, that’s usually the case – forgettable minor characters.

    I guess that’s why all of us are busy writing all kinds of Black, Brown, LGBT, disabled, religious, socio-economic awesomeness.

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