As many of you probably know, I’m a big proponent of more diversity in writing, particularly in books written for kids and young adults. Last week, blogger SC wrote a beautiful post about writing diverse books as a way to combat racial prejudices. I was already on board when #WeNeedDiverseBooks started calling for action earlier this year; I think SC’s Pact to Write Inclusively just takes this a step further. WNDB focuses on making sure kids see themselves in the books they read, while the pact to write inclusively looks at changing the way those kids will see race as adults. If kids read more diverse books, they’ll have greater empathy for those from different backgrounds, and they’ll be less likely to respond with prejudicial fear or hate.
So I’ve taken the Pact to Write Inclusively.
This doesn’t mean I’ll be making all my characters minorities or focusing on race in my writing. There are few things I dislike more than writing to send a message. I write because I have stories I want to tell.
But that doesn’t mean my stories need to be whitewashed. Mark Twain once said that truth can be stranger than fiction because, “Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” The real world is full of diversity, so why shouldn’t my characters reflect that?
I know I’ll get some things wrong, and I’m prepared for the criticism that will follow. My hope is that that negative feedback can be used to start a dialog about the race/gender/etc. issue in question. Because if people criticize the way I portray a character, it means they’re thinking about prejudices. And awareness is the first step to eliminating those prejudices.
Writers, will you join me in this pact?