Writing Song of the Day: “Come Together” by The Beatles
Friends, with so much drama going on in the world, we try to make things really light here on the blog. However, there were a few blog posts last week that truly inspired me.
It all started with this gem
from YA Highway. Nicola K. Richardson wrote a guest post titled “Writing Race in YA.” You see, she’s an African-American YA writer just like Quita and me, and she brought up concerns that we’ve quietly noticed for years: the sometimes lack of diversity in YA fiction. Growing up, we read a TON, but we didn’t have many characters that we could identify with. So, what did we do when we first started getting really serious about our writing? We wrote what we generally read: about white characters. But to prove that we weren’t “selling out” in the black community, we also wrote about biracial characters–mainly a character with one black parent and one white parent.
Why? Because we didn’t want to ostracize the white reader. Even though we heart writing, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want people to actually read it. We didn’t want to write about gangs and growing up in the ghetto, which makes up the majority of black YA fiction on the shelves. To us, we thought being successful meant writing about white people.
But when Nicola wrote about “Not Quite Black” characters, my heart sank. She was talking about me. I had to stop thinking I was being diverse just because I threw in a few biracial characters. I really need to write about my experiences–and growing up, I had friends of all races. So why couldn’t I write about them?
Then I read another great blog post
by the lovely @sjaejones
. She’s biracial, and she was a tad upset about Nicola’s comment on biracial characters–which I completely understand. I think the biracial community needs a voice just as much as any other minority. However, this is how I took Nicola’s comment:
On this sitcom, My Wife and Kids, Damon Wayans’ teenaged daughter looked like this during season one:
But during season two, she magically looked like this:
As you can see, these two girls look nothing alike. I’m not saying the casting decision had anything to do with race. All I know is that most of the time when a black person is depicted in a TV show or a movie, they usually look like the second girl. I don’t look like her, and not to sound conceited, but I’d like to see more examples of people that look like me.
Finally, the lovely Dia Reeves gave her take on race in YA. Basically, she agrees with Quita and me–not all black characters should have to go through the hardships of oppression or the ghetto. Sometimes they just want to kick some supernatural ass. Can I get a woot woot?
There you have it. My main characters will no longer just be white or biracial–they’ll be whoever I want them to be. Besides, not just white characters can fall in love with vampires or overturn a dystopian government.
What would you all love to see more in YA? Are you doing anything in your writing about it?