Yesterday, my nutritionist mentioned that she could not believe we were already in mid November. Time can get away from us can’t it? I like what Zetta Elliott does every December. She creates an annual retrospective pulling information from her blog and FB posts which helps her see all she has accomplished during the previous year. Looking over what we post in blogs or journals, write about in emails or have taken photos of during the year is a much more powerful statement than the book that didn’t get finished (whether we were reading or writing it!), the project that never got started or the trip that got postponed yet again. Let’s look at what was there and see what was accomplished.
I had pretty much the same thoughts earlier this week when I read and commented on a blog post addressed to John Green and the lack of diversity in his books. I wrote a quick impulsive response, thought about it and wrote another one and still don’t think I said it quite right.
I don’t think John Green should have to include characters of color in his writings no more than I think Coe Booth or Malin Alegria should have to include Whites or Asians in theirs. Authors write best when they write what they know. If they know an all white or an all Latino world, then write that. I may wonder how a neighborhood that I know to be rich in diversity can be portrayed as being so very White, but I know people don’t all seek or have the same experience. I know there are Blacks and Latinos who live in monolithic worlds just are there are Whites who do so. The problem I have is that those white readers can easily find books that reflect how they perceive their world while black and Latino readers have a very hard time find books written by those who understand their world and can write about it. While it amazes me that people can continue to live lives that lack diversity with respect to the types of people they interact with, foods they eat or books they read, I have to accept that there are people who question why anyone would want any type of diversity in their lives. Sure, we could argue that books are the perfect arena to introduce people to different thoughts and ideas, there are readers who don’t want that. They read for other reasons than to explore the world around them.
Why do you read?
Publishers Weekly recently released it’s best of 2013. Looking at the list of children’s books, I am wow-ed by the wide variety of literature on the list. The list includes British fiction, GLBT teens, a character with dyslexia, a female action lead character in a graphic novel, 16th century Scandinavia and monsters in Victorian London. Books by or about people of color are the following.
Boxers and Saints by Gene Juen Yang; Lark Pien
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
These books stand as markers of what was published in 2013. Do you think they’re the best?