The last Let’s Talk Bookish post for this year! First of all I would like to thank Rukky @ Eternity Books for starting this! I love writing discussion posts and this series has definitely helped me a lot with inspiration, so thank you! And can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!
Without further ado!
This week’s topic: Who do you think is qualified to write a book with diverse characters?
I’m pretty open about this. And I’m curious to read you guys’s opinions in your own posts or in the comments below!
To say that anyone can write a book with diverse characters might be a bit too open. However, I think that if you are white, you’re not automatically excluded from writing a book with POCs, or a straight cis person excluded from writing a story including LGBT+ rep. That can’t be the case.
I can see why it can be an issue, though. If you’re writing about a person whose POV/perspective you have no idea about, it’s hard to keep it authentic and respectful. In this situation, I think the authors should involve and ask for help from the people they are writing about. This way, they aren’t being as ignorant as they would be just writing about something they don’t know anything about.
However, I see why, even with help, writing about certain topics as someone who isn’t involved, is difficult. Let me explain. As a black woman, I find it hard to identify myself with a black character that’s for example going through something connected to racism, written by a white person. Because they just couldn’t possibly understand or relate to what actually happens in those situations, how it feels. It feels much more real when such things are written by people who have had those experiences themselves.
Same goes for able-bodied people trying to write a book from the perspective of a handicapped person, or a straight author writing about a coming out from the POV of the gay character. Even with help, it might not always work out and be authentic.
As someone from the outside, sometimes it’s hard to see those things. For example, I remember reading You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner. The main character is a deaf girl. I didn’t think much about the authenticity of her experiences or anything the like. Only when I read a review where a deaf person said that they could tell that the author, who isn’t deaf, did a really good job researching that culture and then writing about it, did I realise that this didn’t affect me as much as it did a deaf person. Therefore I didn’t actively notice or think about the credibility of the author and their writing.
What I’m trying to say is: Just because you found the author did a good job of writing the diverse characters, doesn’t mean that people who are part of those groups have to agree. Maybe you thought the author did a great job because you don’t know any better, either. But the people who the author is writing about (or trying to write about), will notice much faster if they think the author did a good job of representing them or not.
So, I think that authors should be careful and try to be as understanding and as respectful as possible when writing diverse characters, but they should not shy away from it.
I see that it’s hard, maybe impossible, to find a balance or a limit as to what someone can and should write about, so the authors should just try their best and do their research before writing as well as involve people who are part of the group they are trying to write about and represent.
These are my two cents on this topic. I actually wrote more than I thought I would, my fingers just kept typing.
Now I’m curious to see what you think! Do you agree? Disagree? What’s your opinion?
featured image: Unsplash @ Daniel McCullough