Discussions

How to do diversity right: A Discussion…

DISCLAIMER: this post is my personal opinion and is also what I’d like to have for diversity in an ideal world, also, to those of you who don’t know me or read my blog often, I have a very dry sense of humour, I’m very sarcastic and I find exaggeration funny, please keep this in mind, my intention is never ever ever to offend 🧡🧡

Hello, everyone! So, I have briefly mentioned this topic a couple of times before but I felt it was one that I should probably discuss further and dedicate a whole post to, as you may have heard (read?) me mention, I DO NOT ACTIVELY SEEK OUT DIVERSE BOOKS… sorry. But, before you judge me, let me explain.

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I think we can all agree on one thing: diversity is a normal thing, through you life you are going to see, meet, pass, encounter and know a ton of people, and a lot of them will be ‘diverse’, whether that be for their sexuality, race, religion or something completely different, and let’s all agree on another thing most people do not get excited when they meet a ‘diverse’ person because diversity is a normal thing! It truly isn’t something to get madly excited over, because, technically speaking, that would be treating someone differently based on a trait of theirs, which is considered wrong. So, I will not look for a book that has diversity left, right and centre, mostly because, this diversity is often used as a marketing tool, instead of ‘Buy my book! It’s about [insert here] and I worked really hard on it and I think a lot of people will enjoy it!’, people will say ‘Buy my book! It has a gay/Asian/black/other character in it, which means you just have to buy it’ You see where my issue is coming from now?

Also, I read because I love it, I am well aware of diversity, I’m in perhaps one of the most diverse areas in the world and I myself am Asian, and I do not need to read ~diverse books~ if the book doesn’t even interest me in the first place, just for the sake of reading a diverse book.

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As horrible as it sounds, diversity in books is almost becoming a trend, you can’t have a successful book unless you are marketing is as having diversity included, which isn’t right. Diversity is normal, you don’t need to bring it up 276310 times in your blurb, it should just be there, casually and normally, because that is what it is, having a Indian best friend in a book? Normal. Having a white best friend? Also normal. Being gay? Normal. Being straight? Also normal. Diversity is not here to help sell books, it is here because we live on planet earth. I’m all for there being more diverse characters, but I want it done normally, which leads me to my next post.

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This one is pretty obvious to me, if you market a book as diverse, that creates a divide between ‘normal’ books and the ‘diverse’ books, which is surely exactly what we don’t want, right? If you make a big deal of diversity, albeit for the ‘right’ reasons, it becomes acceptable for everyone to make a big deal out of it, and that isn’t what people want! That is going backwards, that is creating a further divide between everyone, because diverse people are made a big deal of in the media. Which is not normal. Diversity? Normal. Shouting from the rooftops that a book is special simply because of it’s diversity? NOT NORMAL

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  • Mara Dyer trilogy, MC is part-Indian, portions of the book flash back to her (full-Indian) grandmother’s life in India, this was used a total of 0 times to sell the book that I’m aware of.
  • Warcross Asian MC, and Marie Lu doesn’t even have it tattooed on her head
  • Save The Date, best friend has two dads, it is mentioned one time, and we all move on with our lives
  • Harry Potter, Indian twins who were never used as a marketing strategy, and, although it was never a part of the books, Dumbledore was gay
  • Cinder, MC is from New Beijing and it was mentioned once in the blurb because this is a dystopian, was never used to sell the book, the plot did that.
  • The Mortal Instruments believe it or not, Cassandra Clare did not use her gay characters in the blurb of her book, I know! It can be done!
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before half-Korean MC and we are all chill with it (the movie is a different story, in that case, the diversity was 10000% used for marketing)

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And there we have it! I hope you can see where I’m coming from in this post now ❤ Do you agree with me, let me know! And if you’d like to, feel free to (politely, I’m easily offended) ask any questions or challenge my opinion in the comments! Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed, I’ll talk to you all in my next post ❤

If you agree with me and would like to spread the word, you can share my post on Pinterest and use the cut thingy I made 🙂

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33 thoughts on “How to do diversity right: A Discussion…

  1. Thank you for putting this to eloquently. I tend to steer clear of books that shove their message down my throat as well. It’s not that I don’t agree with or support their message, I’m just drawn to more character driven and plot driven books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What should be and what is are, unfortunately, two different things. I *think* until the reality reflects what the ideal is we need to push what we want to see as reality by celebrating those who utilize it. Having said that, I whether we as readers or authors themselves notice as inclusive, own voice or intentional diverse writing is up to them and/or us.

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    1. Of course I think there should be diversity, but it shouldn’t be made a huge deal of or used to sell a book and I don’t know if I get get behind ‘utilising’ diversity to sell books if that makes sense. I completely understand why some people seek them out, I just personally do not and will never

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that’s the beauty of any art. We seek what we need. Art is a weapon and also an armour and we all we pick what we need in the world to fight (to give credit where due I think I’m paraphrasing Gerad Way on that). I’m not trying to say your opinion is wrong or right. America is in a very bad place right now and any push in any area to fight for its betterment makes most breathe a little easier. The publishing world here is very white (and I’m a white woman) and still very exclusive/nondiverse in the upper rungs of the ladder. That needs to shift but it is not on the reader to fight that battle should they choose not to seek it out nor should they be treated differently for that choice.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Completely get that, in London I think we’re far more accepting of diversity and therefore may not hold as much significance to me because I see rep and also because I read for different reasons. (Also brownie points for Gerard Way) thank you so much for sharing your opinion and also I in no way meant I didn’t read diverse authors in case it came across that way, but, I won’t seek out a black author over a white one, I read for plots and characters if that makes any sense 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I seriously LOVE your blog posts!! This is by far the best post I’ve seen regarding diversity 🙂 I agree with everything you said and I hope it becomes normalized in more books. No one should HAVE to actively search for diverse books because every book should have diverse characters!! I mean that IS how the world is and who wants characters who are all the same?!

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  4. Of course it makes sense and definitely fist bump on Gerard… I don’t not read white authors. My favorite two books are the Six of Crows duology… which is diverse but isn’t one that pushes it (or to my knowledge but I read them long after they came out so I don’t know the hype or publicity when they first came out). I am happy to see it, though. I don’t think you were disrespecting me or my opinion at all. And I agree about London.. truthfully I would think where America once in this area, we now trail now trail most of if the world, which is depressing in it and many other areas. We let so many things fester and grow underground and now it has exploded, sadly. But we are good. 🙂 Extremes in anything are never healthy. That is how this country has ended up in predicament after preidcament!

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    1. Omg I thought you said you didn’t read white authors and I was about to go into rant mode! My main thing is I want diversity to be a normal thing that isn’t made a massive deal out of, it already is in a lot of the tv shoes and series we have here in the UK, hopefully everywhere will have it soon ❤️

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      1. Aw hell no! Of course I do. I pray for the day we don’t need a women’s month or a black history month or gay pride parade because it is just apart everyday. We just aren’t there yet.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a game to add to your list! I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, but The Last of Us incorporates diverse characters without using it as a ploy. And J.K. Rowling is a great example! When a book panders too much to the idea of diversity, it seems like it has the opposite affect of what it intends; it’s like it cheapens the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll have to check that out, I don’t think I’ve heard of it before! And yes I could not agree with you more, it should be something normal that is mentioned once and quickly, just like how someone would talk about their favourite colour or something else completely normal about themselves. Thank you so much for reading! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such an interesting discussion and I totally agree with you. I read what I want to read and it makes no difference to me who the characters are or where there from. I watched To All The Boys the other day (loved it!) and I wouldn’t have noticed the race of the MC (I mean I would have NOTICED obviously cos I’m watching the film) had it not been brought up over and over again on social media? Having diversity in books and media is great, obviously but I’m inclined to agree that the more we scream “THIS IS DIVERSE” the more we’re going to look at the characters and think “they’re different “ when really everyone is totally normal. I’m not getting my point across very well here but yeah, great post! cxx

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  7. I COMPLETELY agree with everything you said, Sarika! It wasn’t until 2015-ish that people started using diversity as a marketing tool. I’ll admit, I get excited whenever I hear about upcoming books that feature diverse characters, but I love it even more when a supposedly non-diverse book contains random gems of diversity in them, because it IS and SHOULD BE the norm. Absolutely fantastic discussion. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you so much! I definitely love it if I hear that there’s like an Asian character in a book, but, like you, I think it’s much nicer if they just pop up, thanks again, I’m so glad you enjoyed xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I don’t want to feel like I’m forced to read something I don’t even like the sound of because it’s got diversity in it, thanks so much x

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  8. What a really great topic! I definitely agree with you. Diversity is so important, don’t get me wrong, but it really doesn’t need to be mentioned every second on every single blurb. I love how you mentioned that there’s almost a divide between “normal” and “diverse” books. It shouldn’t be that way. Diversity IS normal, so why does there always have to be that distinction?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I found this post from a friend and I do think you make a lot of valid points (diversity should definitely be the norm one day!), but I also think there’s a few other things you don’t mention (and a few things that are a bit off) that we also need to look at to fully examine this topic.

    First of all, just some corrections of some of your facts:
    – Warcross: We actually do frequently market Warcross as diverse and with an Asian MC. That’s mostly how I see it talked about.
    – Harry Potter: Dumbledore isn’t actually explicitly gay in any of the books or movies. J.K. Rowling only SAYS online he’s gay, but she never pulls through on that. (Which is a huge point of controversy about her.),
    – Cinder: Cinder is actually white passing because she is Lunar and wasn’t actually born in New Beijing nor is she fully Asian. (The canon is that she’s mixed race, but is white passing i.e. in fan art). Living somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean she’s of the predominant race.
    – The Mortal Instruments: The gay character is a side character, and normally books don’t talk about side characters in blurbs etc., so I’m not entirely sure what you’re asserting.
    – Save The Date: once again, this is a side character (almost side character adjacent bc it’s a side character’s side character) and nobody actually trumpets side characters as diversity anyways
    – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: this was published in a very different time for the YA book community. The half-Korean MC wasn’t a huge deal because at that time, publishers didn’t think we wanted stories featuring Asian characters and so it went relatively quietly because they tried to pass it off as the same as their white romcoms so the audience would purchase it.

    As for the rest of the post, I agree that diversity should be the norm.

    But when we look at how publishing has changed, we only started getting “casually diverse” characters after the book community kept telling them (through promotion of diverse books and the actual buying) that we want diverse books.

    In real life, if we don’t champion diversity, diverse people still exist.
    But in the book community, not championing diversity means a regression back to what’s easiest for the majority of writers (most of whom are white) to write: white characters. Because diverse people don’t need to exist in fictional worlds if the authors don’t write them in.

    Nobody says you have to buy anything. You choose what you buy and read. And for some people, like me, I like reading diverse books. They have a fresh take–usually more culture and something a little different from the norm–and I can see myself represented in these stories.

    I agree that diversity has become part of a marketing tool, but the idea of marketing is that we’re using the features people want (i.e. diverse characters) and telling them that this book has it.

    If people want love triangles, then publishers and authors are going to try and advertise their books as having love triangles, and they’ll be more influenced to have them (see The Hunger Games and Twilight and Divergent & so many others).

    With reference to this line: “So, I will not look for a book that has diversity left, right and centre, mostly because, this diversity is often used as a marketing tool”

    The idea that people are going to STOP actively seeking and therefore reading books that are marketed as diverse means publishers are going to stop marketing books as diverse and will similarly stop encouraging authors to write diverse novels.

    By reading diverse-marketed books, we’re playing the publishers at their own game. They’re trying to make more money by marketing things that we like, and we’re trying to get books with diverse characters by doing what they want and showing them where the money lies: with diverse books.

    The only way to make diversity the norm is if we show publishers that diversity SHOULD be normal. Because if we stop supporting diverse reads, it’s going to be so easy for publishers to realize that they don’t have to put their money behind POC + diverse creators and once again fall back on predominantly white casts by white authors which are easier to find and easy for these authors to write.

    This is not to say that you have to read anything you don’t like. If it doesn’t appeal to you, don’t read it. But it also doesn’t hurt to look for diverse books that ARE appealing, rather than accepting the appealing non-diverse books that you oftentimes see.

    What’s so wrong with reading appealing books by diverse authors or with diverse casts?A lot of diverse books do have appealing summaries, and I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to read it if it appeals to you.

    On the point that “you can’t have a successful book unless you are marketing is as having diversity included,” this is definitely not true. From 2018 so far, books like Sky in the Deep, Ash Princess, The Hazel Wood, Furyborn, The Cruel Prince, One of Us Is Lying, Renegades, This is Where it Ends, The Fates Divide, I Have Lost My Way, The Wicked Deep–all of these were not marketed as diverse , yet they still were wildly popular and hit the NYT bestseller list in 2018.

    And this isn’t because they’re from popular authors who have large fanbases–5 of these are from debuts.

    Diversity is becoming a trend, but is that truly a bad thing? The only way for diversity to become normal is if it gets presented enough that it feels normal. Because if we stop championing diversity in books, authors and publishers will fall back on the easy route and stop incorporating diverse characters that are normal.

    “Diversity is normal, you don’t need to bring it up 276310 times in your blurb, it should just be there, casually and normally, ”

    I’ve never seen a book summary or blurb that incessantly brings up diversity. Not once in the Children of Blood and Bone summary does it mention the characters’ race or skin colors. Not once in the Ignite the Stars summary does it mention that Ia is Asian. Not once in Flame in the Mist or The Wrath and the Dawn or An Ember in the Ashes (which mentions ancient Rome but NOT all the diverse characters), do they talk about sexual orientation or race or anything else. They all talk about the book and its plot.

    I don’t really understand what you mean by the following point: “if you market a book as diverse, that creates a divide between ‘normal’ books and the ‘diverse’ books…”

    Because it feels like you’re implying that diverse books AREN’T normal. The dichotomy between “normal” and “diverse” that you’re establishing is part of, what in my mind, creates the divide between diverse-marketed books and non-diverse-marketed books (which is the point I assume you’re trying to make).

    Making a big deal out of diversity is how we show publishers that we care and we want diversity to be normal. It’s a means to achieving an ultimate goal: “casual diversity.”

    It’s also a way for us just to show how we like getting stories that represent us.

    Because right now, if we give up on championing diversity, the small amount of casual diversity is going to fade away and publishers are going to go back to mostly non-diverse stories, because they’re easier to write. Because white people and white writers are the majority. Because straight people and straight writers are the majority. Because these authors and stories are easier to write than researching and creating a diverse one.

    Making a big deal out of diversity is how I view the book community keeps publishers accountable for casual diversity.

    I hope I didn’t come off as pushy or mean or anything! I just really wanted to look at what you thought of the other facet of this situation (and also make you aware of some of the inconsistencies in your data). Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to be really clear!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya, thanks for reading, I’m just gonna respond to ur points individually so it’s easier:
      -when I was personally seeing Warcross, I didn’t see it marketed that way, I only saw it mentions that it was set in Japan (was it japan I’m completely blanking here)
      -I may have forgot to mention Dumbledore was never actually gay in the franchise, I thought I did but that’s my mistake
      -I literally had no idea, I assumed that because she lived there this was the case, my mistake again
      -I was just saying that a lot of the times if there is a diverse character AT ALL it’s made a pretty big deal of in my experience, in this case, I didn’t see it as much
      -I mentioned Save The Date because I liked the way it was brought up so casually
      -I’m not sure what to say to that? Because the thing I’m saying it should be, is not a huge deal, it is a normal romcom and should be advertised as so, having a half Korean MC wasn’t going to change that
      Quite a lot of people actually say that people should read a book ‘because it’s diverse’ and I’m not saying I don’t like diverse books, I’ve read a decent amount of them.
      I can see what your saying with the marketing thing but when you push a love triangle, you are pushing a feature of your plot, a trope, I personally don’t think this should be the way with characters
      I will never look for a diverse book just because it’s diverse and I’m not going to change that, if other people want to, The I obviously have no problem with it, it’s just my personal preference, if there is a diverse book where the plot appeals to me of course I’ll read it, I never once said I wouldn’t, and I am in no way saying to stop buying diverse books, I’m saying that, in my personal opinion, there are better ways to include and promote diversity
      And once again, I never said I wouldn’t read a diverse book, I will, if it appeals to me so please don’t get that idea, I never said it
      If you read my posts or know anything about me, this is literally the way I talk and I exaggerate sometimes, I don’t actively check NYT lists but I just know from looking around the vast majority of upcoming releases I see that people are looking forward to talk a lot about their diverse characters. No, I don’t think diversity should be a trend, trends are for clothes, music etc not literal groups of people? They are not a product to be sold? Again, the exaggeration, I’ve seen children of blood and bone talked about so much as a ‘diverse book’ and a lot of people saying to read it for the diverse characters
      Actually, I’m saying they ARE normal and shouldn’t be put in a different category because they are diverse
      Of course I don’t want no diversity, I never said that. At all. I am saying I want it to be a normal thing, I don’t want a book to be good just because it’s diverse, I want to see an Indian mc, that’s just there, as normal as any other white person, just a different ethnicity, so please don’t get the idea I don’t like diversity
      I don’t think a book should be any less ‘important’ because it’s written by a white straight person, I’ve seen a lot of ‘instead of reading a book by this white woman read this…’ and I can never get on board with it
      This was long but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea of me, I do not dislike diversity and I do not think there should be less of it, this is my opinion, this blog is a place for me to share those opinions, a lot of people have completely agreed with me on this point and I’m glad you commented to share your opinions, which I completely respect

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  10. This is such an interesting post! I commend you for being so brave to post this discussion. Diversity is important but I’m also disappointed that is is hugely used as a marketing tool.

    One book I really loved for its diversity was Roshani Chokshi’s Aruh Shah and the End of Time. The MC is Indian plus it was the first book I read with a Filipino character in it. Even though the character wasn’t a full Filipino, it was so amazing to read about someone with the same blood as I have. Reading a lot of Filipino references from the book also warmed my heart because Filipinos just don’t get enough reps in books.

    Amazing post all in all. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll have to check that out! I completely agree that some people still get little to no rep (Indian, Filipino, Thai etc) and I still get really excited if I see an Asian character, I just hope that one day I don’t need to be surprised by it x

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  11. I don’t think diversity should be used as a marketing tool to sell books, but I do think there’s a lot of value in having access to the stories of different groups of people to you. Like, I think a book inherently about a different culture will (hopefully) teach me something, which is important. I think the only point I really disagree with is saying that Harry Potter is a good example of diversity. I don’t think claiming a character as being LGBT+ but having no mention or representation of that within the book really is a good example. To me, that basically said that JK Rowling wanted to jump on “my book is diverse” bandwagon without actually putting any of the diversity into the novels. Just my opinion of course, but to me THAT is a marketing ploy.
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

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    1. Completely agree with the JK Rowling thing, I thought I mentioned that the Dumbledore one was a bit iffy and she has definitely backtracked a lot just so she can say her books had more diversity, but as an Asian, the characters of Parvarti and Padma was what I really wanted to mention because I wasn’t expecting there to be any Asians in the books and it was nice to see them there, I think the only reason I won’t hold that against Rowling too much is the sheer amount of charitable work she does for people less fortunate. I think I might have this opinion because I am considered a ‘minority’ and I’d much prefer it if characters like me were in books casually and normally, but I can definitely see how interesting it can be to learn about other cultures etc, if your looking for a book like this I’d definitely read When Dimple Met Rishi, it definitely exaggerates the Indian culture part but it is interesting to find out more about different cultures as the families in the book are quite traditional xx

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  12. I am deafblind Asperger and I like disabled characters in my novels only I wish they were more open I also like other diverse characters too I just wish there were more vegans

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