The point of Holly’s post is that buying works by PoC/LGBTQ/trans writers will literally change the landscape of what’s out there and what’s a bestseller and what’s mainstream. I do sign on to that.
As for the need for more diversity in all books being written, yes to that too. Though, I wish you wouldn’t say I am doing something because “you know that’s what sells.” People think writers do EVERYTHING because “that’s what sells.” People are always reading our minds/explaining our motives—people from every standpoint. Most book banners use the “you do this because this is what sells” in order to denigrate work. My goal for myself is to try harder and do better and make good stories.
But the point remains that diverse writers of diverse books are out there, and by buying their books, the playing field changes. It sounds like maybe you aren’t aware of all these writers. That’s a problem. But it’s something that so many good people are working on now, to bring these writers up to the front of the store/the reading list.
I’m not sure where emayosi is getting that meaning from Holly’s response, because it seemed to me that Holly was encouraging folks to seek out books by authors of color, queer authors, etc., rather than sticking to what “the majority of YA authors” are writing.
I will certainly grant that yes, it’s true that “the majority of YA authors” write books that feature white, straight, abled characters. It’s also true that this is what the majority of entertainment media presents to us every day. THIS IS THE WORLD TODAY.
The point is: THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS. Even though “the majority” writes about white, straight, abled characters, there are others — aka the minority — who do not. I also grant that it can be hard to find these other options, especially when the mainstream media is busy stuffing our faces with ads, promotions, and the like about white straight abled people saving the world or having romances or just sitting around in ennui having deep thoughts.
HOWEVER. There’s this great thing now called THE INTERNET where you can search outside the mainstream for books (and other media too) about people of color, LGBT people, and disabled people. I have spent a lot of time creating and maintaining websites that make finding these stories easier, and right now I spend a lot of time on one of them, Diversity in YA, and you might want to look at the book lists there to find something you might enjoy.
By buying those books or asking your library to buy them, you can make a change in “what sells.” It is the basic truth of capitalism: vote with your wallet. That is everyone’s responsibility.
That was part 1. Here’s part 2:
:) :) :)
What a great plug! Read Huntress and get punched in the gut! I promise. Hee.
This…is an interesting question.
My publisher was very aware of Jessamin being a POC character. The model they used is Polynesian (and probably the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, but that’s neither here nor there), and they were very careful with the coloring because we didn’t want her washed out. But the lighting is really intense around the teacup, so I can see how her skin tone could be confused.
So, I don’t really have an answer for you, other than that my publisher definitely made no attempt to whitewash Jessamin or her story. The visual emphasis is supposed to be the teacup, thus the bright lighting focusing on that portion of the cover.
This is SUCH an interesting question, and it illustrates something I’ve been thinking about for awhile: the idea (that arises in many discussions of book covers, particularly) that representations of people of color must appear a certain way in order to be read as people of color. The fact, is not all people of color are read as people of color in the real world — sometimes people of color pass as white*, but that doesn’t mean they are white. Basically, being a “person of color” doesn’t necessarily mean your skin is noticeably darker than “white” (and what is “white” anyway?), and it’s important to remember that.
Racial and ethnic identity is more than skin deep. It’s about culture, lived experience, history. It’s complicated, and often impossible to express in a flat, two-dimensional image.
* Edited to add: Sometimes a person passes as white only to certain other people. Whether you recognize someone as [insert ethnic identity] often depends on your own lived experience and ethnic identity. E.g., Chinese people often notice that I am not 100% Chinese (I’m 1/4 white), but I’ve never had a white person notice that (or, at least, tell me they noticed).