My post is prompted by all that happened on Twitter (for a change, I was actually clued in to the happenings this time) and I tried to tweet about it too but I couldn’t put it in the limited words. So I thought I would make a short post.
Let me start off by saying that it is only since last year (when I came to the US and started blogging) that I have become more aware about terms like “diverse voices” and “representation”.
I mean, in India I never really thought about it when I read. Never thought about why I rarely read about POCs or people with not the most “perfect” bodies. But now that I have been here for over a year, it is something that I have wondered about more often. Now I feel that just the fact that there are advocacy movements for diversity shows that there is something wrong. I mean, shouldn’t that be like the most “natural thing”? Let me just start with this – When I step out of the house, I see people of different ethnicities. I see people of different body types. I am not making any special effort to “see” “different types” of people, am I?
I don’t know much about writing, but is it that hard to put the same thing on paper? One argument put forward by a blogger is that authors may fear misrepresenting the characters. I can understand (for the lack of a better word) this argument for the main characters but what about the secondary characters? I rarely see even any of the MC’s friends being .. oh, I don’t know … South Asian? Surely it isn’t that hard to have diverse voices that might not be part of the main plot but make up the cast of characters? For secondary characters with less page time there is a lesser chance of misrepresenting and lesser research will be needed.
The point I am trying to make is that the fact that even the “background setting” of the story doesn’t have diverse voices makes the whole “fear of misrepresenting” argument seem a bit futile for me. The fact that even describing people’s skin color, weight, gait, sexuality in more than one way – all of which doesn’t take much “research” – is still seen as something worth mentioning and applauding in book reviews shows how uncommon an occurrence it is.
It is the authors’ prerogative to write what they want to and the reviewers’ job to review based on what is written. But there is a world beyond the books and that world is ours. Where we can advocate our hearts out. Where we can still wish that there would come a time when the diversity campaign becomes redundant. Because how else would we see any kind of change? If the readers keep quiet, then how will the authors get a sense of the causes and beliefs that we are passionate about? If we don’t flare up with posts (and rebuttals) every now and then, how will the authors know that the conversations surrounding diversity is not some passing fad that will die down with time, but that it is real and unceasing?
So, let’s talk and let’s keep talking. I disagree with the notion that the readers talking will pressurize the authors into doing anything. The word “pressurize” carries such negative connotations. How about something nicer – like motivate? Or inspire?