I *met* Patrice through What's Up Wednesday, a blog meme run by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. We both feel strongly about the lack of diversity we are seeing in literature (MG, YA, & NA to be more specific) and from there we had a few conversations through DM and email talking about what we can do to make a difference. From our dialogue came the idea for Operation Diversity. It's still in the planning stages but we would like to reach out to all writers/bloggers to be apart of this project.
Since we have a lot of emails (and some of them are long), we thought it would be best to simplify our discussion into a proposal so that you guys can get an idea of what we want Operation Diversity to look like, and maybe contribute some ideas/participate if you're interested in being apart of a group blog:
Operation Diversity is a blog whose focus will be to highlight and celebrate diversity in MG, YA & NA. The blog will be run by a group of bloggers who will take turns posting throughout the week on topics such as debunking stereotypes, interviews with authors and other industry professionals, book reviews, and Q&As.
The blog will also comprise of stories of our journey to publication and lists of book recommendations from MG to NA with characters from backgrounds not typically portrayed in these books.
We are seeking bloggers age of all ages to be a part of this blog. We are especially looking for people from a wide variety of backgrounds so that we, as the bloggers, will be able to speak from our own experiences. Note: Not all bloggers must be writers.
Some things we hope this blog will accomplish:
* Raise awareness about ALL kinds of diversity
* Have a place for writers to document their journey to writing/querying/publishing their diverse wips
* Highlight why diversity is important to us (and to other people)
* Showcase diverse novels/make reading lists so people can know what's out there
* Possibly have discussions on different aspects of diversity (this can go under getting more people aware of the issue)
* Interview authors who write diverse YA (or maybe librarians/book sellers/editors etc.)
* Have a place where people can submit questions OR maybe pick stereotypes that we often see in YA books and possibly debunk them.
We are open to suggestions for this blog, so all ideas are welcome.
The topics that were outlined in this proposal are not final. Again, we are open to any and all ideas/suggestions. This is a group blog, so we are open to discussing any changes or additions future participants want to make.
If you are interested in this project, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm really hoping Operation Diversity gets launched someday because in order for change to happen, not only do we have to talk about the issue, but we have to do something about it. This is why I encourage people who are currently writing books with diverse characters to contact us because it will be nice to meet other people who are trying to make a difference through their writing.
Understand that diversity isn't just about race/ethnicity. A lot of people (from what I read) seem to only talk about diversity in terms of skin color. While that's a kind of diversity, so is sexual orientation, disabilities (mental and physical), religion, nationality etc. Diversity is such a broad term, so I cannot stress the importance of having people who come from a variety of backgrounds join this endeavor.
With that said, I want to tell you guys a little about myself and why I think this project is important:
I am nineteen.
I was raised by a single mother.
I am an only child
I grew up in what some people would call a 'bad neighborhood'.
I am a sophomore in college.
I am straight.
I am black.
As a collective, these are facts about me. But individually? Well, a lot of people could relate to being raised by a single mother or growing up in a 'bad neighborhood'. Individually, these facts that I have shared about myself, can each be used to describe hundreds of people, if not more. I think when people think about writing diversely, they get too caught up on what makes the characters that they're writing different from them, and while it is okay to recognize their differences don't get to caught up on them because in doing that you put up a wall and you start seeing them as people that you can't relate to, instead of seeing them as people.
Everyone no matter their skin color, their sexual orientation, their religion etc. has something in common with each other. Yes, we are all different. But people forget that despite our differences, we are all the same in some way or another. I want Operation Diversity to remind people of that. I want Operation Diversity to break down barriers, to help people learn about the many different kinds of diversities, so that conversations about more than ethnic diversity can be had. It is time that literature for young readers, teens, and young adults alike reflect the society we live in. Not everyone in the world is white, straight, able-bodied, and Christian. And because not everyone is, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't be able to see themselves as Harry Potter or Katniss or any of the heroes/heroines of popular kidlit fiction.
Often times when a book about a POC or someone who is LGBTQ or disabled is all about them being [insert ethnicity] or [insert orientation] or [insert disability] and I hate it. No one is the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their disability whether it is physical or mental. Everyone on this planet is human. We all feel things. We all have moments when we want someone we think is cute to notice us or just wish we could wake up with cool superpowers. We all make mistakes and break promises. We all fall in love and we all hurt somebody either on accident or intentionally. We all are human, and just because someone is different than you it doesn't make them any less human.
Operation Diversity is a project that probably isn't going to make an immediate change in literature but it will get people to talk about things that we don't neccessarily talk about, maybe even inspire people to write characters they were afraid to write about.
If you don't want to be a blogger that's fine, but there are other ways you can participate in this endeavor and both Patrice and I encourage you to get in touch with us. We would love to interview people. So if you are writing a book with a diverse cast or have one coming out soon or already have one out, we would love to talk to you. If you're interesting in doing a guest post (and you have something specific that you want to talk about) please get in touch with us. If you just have questions or want us or any of the other bloggers to talk about something or cover a specific topic, please please PLEASE shoot us an email. This project is about bringing people together and making a difference.
Again, you can get in touch with us at: operationdiversity[at]gmail[dot]com.
There is an official form that you can fill out over at Patrice's blog, if you want to get in touch with us that way. The form is really cool because it gives you a chance to tell us a little about yourself and what you want to contribute to Operation Diversity.
The only way we can make a difference is if we do it together.
Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some of you soon. We got a few responses from people interested in being bloggers. So don't feel bad if you don't want to be a blogger. Just know that there are other ways you can be apart of this project!