Space for Rent: Point of Change



Tweet of the Day: The Politics of Science Fiction


If you, like me, exists in the world of writers and their books, you might have heard about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks social media campaign. It is a simple campaign directed at the book industry, from authors to publishers and libraries to write, publish and stock books with diverse casts, backgrounds and with People of Colors and other minorities. The focus is on books for young children and young adults, books that reflect not only a majority view on the issues of race and sexuality but engage young readers across a wide spectrum of social and historical issues.

But this is not a new issue, just a new way to tackle it. I’ve written about this issue from different angles: how to write “strong” female characters, the folly of assigning strength/weakness to masculinity/femininity and the difficulties of writing about the Other. How we should allow diverse voices to speak for themselves. And while I applaud the folks behind this campaign I fear it will be another flash in the pan. Another topic of discussion, because getting people talking may be hard, but once they start they won’t shut up, because doing something about it is even harder.

It is a start, a good start, but where do we go from here?

How do we beyond tokenism or queer bating or so many other traps that befall all of others when confronted by the now unavoidable Other?

These are important questions with difficult answers. But we are at the precipice of change and that change will come in the form of our answers.


7 comments on “Space for Rent: Point of Change

  1. I think it comes back to write what you know. The literary world has been dominated by white males for a long time therefore a majority of the books have white male main characters. If you want more diversity then minority voices have to write books with minority main characters. White writers should be allowed to write about minority characters without the automatic assumption of being racist or appropriating their culture.

    I know this happens because it happened to me. I’m still going to write the short story but I got a lot of flack and accusations just because they are a minority couple and I am white.


    • While I agree that writers of all backgrounds should embrace diversity, we also have had a long history of white male authors writing about other cultures to establish their own racial agendas and getting the fact hideously wrong. Hence the difficulty of dealing with the subject.


  2. My current protagonist is bisexual. In the past, my main characters have included both straight and gay characters. It’s not something I stress about. I let my characters tell me about themselves.

    The main thing is that they are people, three-dimensional characters who happen to prefer a certain gender sexually.

    Lyra, I’m glad you are going ahead with your story!


  3. I wish I could remember the name of the novel. It was written in the ’70s and had a black female protagonist who learned that she was descended from a slave who had children by a white guy. She ends up traveling back and forth to that time period and her own.

    Her initial thoughts was that this couple loved each other and went against the times to raise a family together only to be proven otherwise. I thought it showed a better reality of what slave life might have been like than I’ve seen in other stories where it was the happy slaves being taken care of by their kind master.

    I think ralfast that it will take time because their are huge hurdles to overcome. As writers we are always told to a.) write what you know b.) write what you want to want to read. Now with small independent publishers actively looking for minority MCs and self-publishing I think it will start to change with those options available if a story doesn’t get accepted by a traditional publisher doesn’t mean that it won’t get published.


  4. GypsyScarlett, I even opened a thread on a writing forum asking questions so I could get things right and not be stereotypical or demeaning. It is necessary for the story because I needed one of the characters to get a deadly disease and the other not catch it. So one gets malaria and the other doesn’t catch cause he has sickle cell trait.
    It’s set in South Florida. So I thought it would be perfect for them to be Haiti.

    Then people started to say I was just defining them by their disease. So, it’s a no win situation and you just eventually have to ignore everyone who no matter how you try to explain just think you are writing for nefarious purposes.

    I had plenty of defenders though so I’m sticking with it. The problems I’m having with the story now aren’t even race related it’s science related.


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