Saturday, January 14, 2017

Diverse Books are More Important Than Ever

The world isn't increasingly diverse.

It was diverse when Ann Frank was pulled out of her hiding place and transported to a concentration camp, where her short life ended despite her poetic mind.

It was diverse when African citizens were forced on to boats and delivered to American plantation owners like property.

It was diverse when Emmett Till was lynched for no crime other than being a young man in a racist society.

It was diverse when Harvey Milk was murdered simply for being openly gay. 

Religion. Race. Family Origin. Ethnicity. Culture. Ability. Gender. Socio-economics. These, and other ways too numerous to list, are all ways that we are diverse. These differences can be appreciated or turned into markers for discrimination and violence.

When YA authors feature diverse characters in our books, we help the next generation jump into the heads of different kinds of people from different backgrounds and walks of life. When we support authors from diverse backgrounds, we ensure the voices young people hear are authentic and appropriate.

Our diverse history has been full of heartbreak and hurt. Hate, fueled by fear, in too many places, is becoming normalized again in the current political environment way too often. Each of us has to do our part. YA Authors do that by making sure our characters reflect the full scope of the human experience. YA Readers do that by reading books that expand their experiences and immerse them in a wide range of cultures. We all do this by speaking out against violence and hate in any form, every time with see it, without exception.

The world isn't increasingly diverse. But, we must be increasingly more aware of our diversity and embrace each other or we risk repeating some of the worst of history.