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I am, by no means, a voice of authority on this topic. Or any topic, really. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about and something I’d like to work toward.
What I mean about diversity within diversity is this: I think it’s absolutely fantastic that writers are pushing toward writing diversity into literature, and I love that so many people are supporting and sharing the importance of including diversity within our work, but sometimes, when we do that, we forget to look at the people themselves. We see the race, or the disability, or the sexual orientation, or the neuroatypicality and we forget that two Hispanic asexual men may be vastly different from each other, or two teenagers struggling with OCD may have hugely different symptoms.
Sometimes, we look at a representation of a minority, and we forget this is one person in a community of people who are gay, or black, or chronically ill, or blind, or a combination thereof, or whatever the case may be. Sometimes we forget that the community of that one sect of people is just as beautifully diverse as the world as a whole. Diversity within diversity.
I came across a great example of this a while ago, in a post from Marie Lu on her half-Asian, blonde-haired, blue-eyed character, Day. Here’s just a snippet of it (which I emphasized with bolding), but if you’d like the real the full post, which I think is really thought-provoking, it’s here.
“I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t mean to create Day to fill a quota or to make a statement. I didn’t mean to ‘hide’ his Asian-ness behind a blond-haired, blue-eyed mask. To think so is to discredit the fact that many people of color exist on a gradient—we are not always so noticeably Asian or Caucasian or Hispanic or African-American, etc. I’ve received quite a few emails over the years from parents who have hapa children with blond hair and blue eyes, and it makes me smile. Day is half-Asian and half-white, but he is not defined by it, nor does he dwell much on it. He’s just….Day.”This is something I’ve barely touched on in my work, but I’d like to work on more going forward. It’s something that I think is important, because not every OCD person feels the need to count everything and keep their pens lined up, and not every asexual is uninterested in sex or relationships.
It’s important, because people are made up of much more than labels, because people are people first, and every one of us is different from another.
What do you think? Do you know of any books that show diversity within diversity?
"Sometimes we look at a representation of a minority & we forget this is one person in a community..." (Click to tweet)
Are your characters diverse? Writer @Ava_Jae shares her thoughts on diversity, labels, and individuality. (Click to tweet)