It is difficult to put into words exactly how important diversity and representation is to people. Growing up, I never had stories telling me that it was okay to not have a crush on anyone while everyone else was becoming twitterpated. I never had books with characters who had difficulties picking up on social cues and expectations. I certainly never had books telling me that it was okay to be the potato to everyone’s day lilies.
However, this is nothing compared to the people who are not being represented at the most basic level let alone in more complex ways. Not only are diverse characters and authors not being represented, but they oftentimes are being blocked from ever having that opportunity. We can do better than 3%. In fact, we must do better than 3%.
Additionally, authors who attempt to write diverse characters, for one reason or another, but are not necessarily from the group they are trying to represent often do more harm than good. They too frequently use the diverse character as a plot device or a gimmick, playing up the stereotypes for kicks. We don’t need the cheap laugh at the expense of another, and we certainly don’t need the half-assed excuse for diversification to show that the author is “not prejudiced”. What we need is authentic representation and respect for diverse groups being engendered in both authors and audiences.
It is time to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Demand books with real, genuine diverse personhood. Step up when stereotypes and prejudices are being perpetuated. Don’t make excuses or apologies, but instead make a change.