Post by Emily
From May 1 to May 3, avid readers, authors, and publishers all came together to talk about the need for diversity in books, specifically in young adult and middle grade books. The social media website Tumblr was inundated with submitted pictures of people’s reasons for why we need diverse books, and the hash tag #WeNeedDiverseBooks was in the top ten trending tags on Twitter. I was so excited when I stumbled upon this campaign. Everyone’s story deserves to be told and, as my favorite submission stated, the world is more than just rich white guys running around.
My submission was that I needed diverse books because I am more than my coming out story. As a woman, though I get to see myself in young adult literature, that representation is kicked around and spit upon as not real literature. As a lesbian, this campaign is important to me because I deserve to see people like me in my favorite genres without the whole story being about being gay. Also, we deserve to have happy endings; death and violent hate crimes aren’t the only things of note that happen to us, and our pain most certainly doesn’t exist to further the character development of the straight main character.
As an asexual person, this campaign is important to me because I deserve to see people like me and to not have them looked down upon as a freak for being asexual. As a mentally ill person, this campaign is important to me because I am not broken or useless, and I deserve to see myself represented in literature. This campaign is important because people of color deserve to see themselves and their cultures respectfully represented. This campaign is important because physically disabled people and neuroatypical people (e.g. people with autism, OCD, etc.) deserve to see themselves as the heroes of stories where their disability isn’t magically “fixed.” This campaign is important because trans and non-binary people deserve positive representation.
If this campaign makes you angry, look around. The world is so much more than straight, white, able-bodied, neurotypical, rich, cisgender men. If you think this campaign is unnecessary, then explain to someone close to you who is underrepresented in mass media why you don’t think they deserve to have books about themselves. There are so many stories out there just waiting to be told, and reading about people who are different from ourselves where those people are portrayed as equal human beings promotes tolerance.