18 juil. 2017

What Diversity Means to Me

Hello everyone, it's time to be controversial !

I hesitated a lot before doing this post but I need to have this discussion because I don't like how the community is changing. I realize I might be hated for what I'm going to say so I'm going to ask you to keep an open mind.

This discussion is obviously going to be about diversity. I support diversity all the way. To me, diversity is realizing that there are different types of people in the world. It may be a very simplistic definition but that's how I see it. When you read diversely, you open up to different cultures, different point of views, different people with issues you're probably never going to have and that's what makes it beautiful. Our differences. It'd be so boring if we were all the same after all. 
This world is full of many types of people and it'd be a shame not to read about all of them (or at least try). 
Personally I don't read a book for its diversity. I know some people do, and that's great (I'm going to talk about diversity supporters later), I read a book for its plot, the author's writing, the characters... If a book is super diverse but I don't like one of those things I'm just going to DNF it. I don't want to force myself to pick up books based on that even though diversity is important. 
I'm not saying diverse books are bad, I'm just saying I treat them like I would any other book.

Now let's move on to the real topic of this discussion : Diversity supporters. There are 2 types of supporters :

  1. The ones who support diverse books. I'm in this category. I like reading diversely and I support those books by reading and reviewing them, and simply getting them known to other people.

  2. The ones who support diversity and hate on authors/readers who don't write/read diversely or those who criticize diverse books. For the sake of this post, let's just call them « the 2nd category ».

I have multiple examples :

- The Sarah J Maas scandal. All of a sudden, people started to realize that all of her characters were white and straight. And after a disabled character was written off the last book, they got mad. It's okay to be annoyed but hating her and sending her death threats ? Not so much.

Supporting diversity doesn't give you the right to be mean. It doesn't give you the right to judge authors who don't write diversely or their readers. Authors don't owe you anything. They write books and it's up to you whether you read it or not. That's it. If you want to read diverse books only it's your choice but don't hate on other people for not making the same decision.

- When Dimple Met Rishi. I've seen that a few days ago and that's when I decided I should write a post about it. I haven't read the book but from what I understood, Dimple threw a coffee at him or punched him, I don't know, and some people found her unlikeable because of that. Of course, a lot of people argued about that and it's completely okay. I love arguing about books and confront different perspectives.
However, the 2nd category immediately came to the rescue of Dimple saying she wasn't unlikeable and that « white reviewers are all the same, they disliked Dimple but would love her if she were white ».

Before commenting this, I'm going to share the definition of racism : « Prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race », (oxford dictionnary)

Guess what ? That was racist. And I know some of you don't think it that way « you can't be racist against white people ». Well, clearly you can. And before you comment stuff like « you're white so you don't get it », you should know that 1) I'm not white and 2) it's completely irrelevant.
I'm just a regular reader who thinks diversity is supposed to help us overcome our differences and bring us closer together but instead it's turning into some kind a war between the 2nd category and... I don't know, who are you fighting against ? Readers who have different tastes ? Authors who don't write what you want ?

If that's the case maybe I should join because I've been wanting to read about a gay unicorn lost in space but authors don't seem to like that idea *shrugs*.
Now let's go back to Dimple. You can't force people to like a character. If you read lots of reviews, there must be at least one instance where you read a bad review of a book you love or a good review of a book you dislike and think « Have we read the same book ? That character was awful/awesome ! ». We're all different and therefore we don't have the exact same tastes.

Guys if you want to support diversity, do what you do best : Read. Only positivity will bring people to write and read diversely. If you're annoyed about something you can always respectfully say it but don't be racist and don't judge people because that would defeat the purpose of diversity. Being judgmental is not helping and more often than not you're going to be wrong.

I'm going to tell you a story (as if this post wasn't long enough) : Do you remember the rumors about how Elza from Frozen was going to be a lesbian ? I don't know if they actually did it in the end because I've never watched it but there was this guy I know who said « Elza shouldn't be a lesbian. A good story is with a prince and a princess. I love those kind of stories and it should stay that way ». 
Everyone looked at him funny. Is he homophobic ? No. He's actually gay, that's why everyone was surprised but if you didn't know that maybe you would have judged him an said he was against LGBT representation. I'm not saying what he said was right or wrong, I'm just saying he has his opinion, I have mine and we don't insult each other because of that.

Okay I think it's the longest post I've ever written. For those who didn't want to read it the whole thing, this post is just to say : Supporting diversity is great but don't take it too far.

That's it for today (I hope you don't hate me now).

What does diversity mean to you ? Do you agree with me ?

Hope you enjoyed, see you next time.

8 commentaires:

  1. Wow great post. I love to read about diversity but I also agree that writers shouldn't be shamed/ attacked if they don't meet someone's criteria of "is it diverse enough?" Like you say, read it or don't read it, like it or don't like it, but don't expect everyone to be able to satisfy everyone. The Sarah Maas thing I guess is a case in point.

    I think we should just celebrate the writers or books that DO show diversity rather than attacking someone who doesn't.

    Oh and can we have the gay unicorn story? Someone write it please. :)

    1. THANK YOU ! You're absolutely right, we should focus on the positive.

      Haha YES !

  2. Love this post! Honestly, I agree 100% when you say that authors don't owe readers anything, because they don't. They don't even owe us books at all. And people have really been awful to some authors lately.

  3. I do agree, and I also don't read books purely based on how diverse they are. I choose books based on what sounds good. And you brought up some great examples of some of the harmful things going on. And let's not forget that many readers complain when a book doesn't have diversity, but they also complain when a non-marginalized author writes a book that's not #ownvoices. So yeah, I agree that authors don't owe us anything and that the best thing we can do to support diverse books as readers is to just read the ones we're interested in and spread the word about them.

    1. You make a very good point. I think the #ownvoices trend started with pretty good intentions but at the same time it shouldn't discourage authors to write about other cultures or characters different from them.

  4. Great post, and I totally agree with everything you've said here! I'm the same in that I whole-heartedly support diversity in books, but I don't specifically read books because they are diverse. I just read books that sound good to me, and if there's diversity in them, then that's great!
    I've definitely noticed a lot of the category 2 diversity supporters around recently though, and I think that hating on authors isn't the answer! As you say, they don't owe us anything, and it's entirely up to them what they write. If they choose to write something that shows diversity then that should be celebrated, but no one should be attacking them if they don't.

    1. I see them all the time on Twitter and I'm always shocked to see how many people agree with them.

      I'm glad you agree !