May 1, 2013

Announcing: DiversifYA

Hey Misfiteers!

I've talked about diversity in fiction before on this wonderful blog. The last post in particular -- writing characters with a disability -- let to a wonderful discussion on *how* to write diverse characters when you're own experience is white, straight, able-bodied, neurotypical. The overall feeling seemed to be that it's not easy to write diversity. Not because it involves a lot of research, but because it's scary to get it wrong and to offend, especially if you don't have any personal experience of the diversity kind.

That idea triggered me.

After all, in an average high school class of, say, 30 students, according to some very rough statistics:

  • 8 will be affected by a mental illness at some point in their lives (WHO)
  • 2 will be LGBTQ (averaged between recent 4% statistics and Kinsey's famous 10%)
  • 6 of them will have a disability (US Census Bureau, broad definition)
  • 13 will be of a minority ethnicity (US Census Bureau). According to current projections, by 2050 that number will be up to 19. That's well over 60% of the children born. 

These are just estimates, of course, but look at those numbers. Then look at these numbers, part of the spectacular Diversity in YA.

Most of us have experience with diversity, it's almost impossible not to. And yet, and yet, even as someone who is white but not straight, able-bodied, or neurotypical, it scares me too! Because the overwhelming narrative has been that of the majority, with all other groups marginalized well beyond their statistical presence. Moreover, they have so often been stereotyped and stigmatized, it's easy to be wary of new attempts while there's a huge desire for them too. It means the stakes are high and sometimes frighteningly so.

It also means the possibilities are endless. To make your stories richer, to make them stand out and reach more readers who might finally recognize themselves. It means the possibility to reach out and discover more of the world around you, if you are willing to listen.

Because diversity is all around us. Diversity is us.

And there's only one way to make sure you never offend. Don't write.

So with pride and pleasure, I welcome you all to the blog launch of DiversifYA, a way to get those experiences to you, a tool to help make your stories more diverse and convince you the world is so much richer than we often read about. It's not a solution or an alternative to research, but it's a good start on our way to inclusive YA. You want to join us for the fun too, don't you?


Lo said...

I agree! So hard to write diversity and get it right. Intimidating. I enjoyed visiting DiversifYA. And thanks for the comment on my blog today!

Emily R. King said...

You've made some great points here. People can choose to be offended by lots of things. I don't think that's an excuse to shy away from writing socially diverse characters.

Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates