Most often, when we talk about writing, it’s about craft. Tools. Techniques. Elements of fiction. For me, those things are inseparable from historical or psychosocial aspects of our field, e.g., the legacy of colonialism and how it lingers in children’s books, or the persistent representation (or non-representation) of characters of color. Just two examples but do they not, even now in the 21st century, still hold the power to stir conversations to boiling point? And then there are the statistics.
Since last year, the Diversity 101 Posts on the CBC Diversity blog have offered us a refreshing forum for a thoughtful conversation on a variety of related subjects . Quick peek:
None of us will ever have all the answers here. We all always need to remember that each character, author, and book is individual, and that each deserves our careful reading and consideration. But we hope this “Diversity 101” series will further the conversation with a little more information, and help all of us to write and publish the truest and best books.
And this from our own VCFA graduate Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Excerpt:
Even when the stereotypes are more benign, they serve to set people apart. Because emotional and developmental disabilities are usually invisible, it is tempting to exaggerate behavioral differences so that readers know a character has a disability.
It’s a common cliché, and it’s very subtle. In our ever-increasing commitment to include diverse characters in novels, we’ve also, at the same time, increased a stereotype ― that black kids (when they’re among an “ensemble cast”) don’t have much going on and aren’t worthy of the spotlight.