Bandwagon to Jump On: #WeNeedDiverseBooks!

by Brittany Allen

Looking for a new Twitter-cause (read: actual cause) to rally around? The Internet, as usual, is here to provide an outlet for all your righteous indignation. A new viral campaign concerning the lack of diversity in American literature is out for blood; #WeNeedDiverseBooks aims to expand the frontier of all those cis-person, straight, white, male narratives that have filled our bookstores and libraries for, well, ever. So, who’s got a big web presence? Better yet, who knows a writer? 

A lot of publishing people with clout have already lent a Tweet or two to the cause. Notably, award-winning hep cat Junot Diaz spoke to The New Yorker blog last week about his own experience being the only minority student in a predominantly white MFA program. In his typically sharp, unabashed fashion, Diaz reports of creative writing programs that “shit was too white.” He goes on to explain: “too white as in my workshop reproduced exactly the dominant culture’s blind spots and assumptions about race and racism (and sexism and heteronormativity…” Since such programs are producing a huge swathe of new American fiction and non-fiction writers, Diaz’s caution is some daunting food for thought. 

Authors like Gayle Forman have focused the movement even further, pointing to the startling lack of diverse characters in children’s literature. She posted this image to her Tumblr recently, citing her own investment in the cause: “#WeNeedDiverseBooks…so both my daughters can see themselves — and each other — in books.”

Plenty of other good reasons to lobby abound. Author Chuck Wendig wrote on his Twitter the other day, “I never have to walk into a bookstore and ask, ‘where’s the straight white male section?’ BECAUSE I’M ALREADY IN IT. #WeNeedDiverseBooks.” And here are some other choice reasons from the movement’s Tumblr:

According to a recent bit of coverage at Salon:

“Unlike some hashtag activism efforts, #WeNeedDiverseBooks has a plan to get noticed and make a dent in the publishing world…The hope is to ‘get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.” 

Hark! It’s been noticed. 

Though the campaign started last week, let’s keep the dream alive! Do what you can to lobby for diverse books! Or, tell the platform (or us!) your own nifty reason for getting involved. 

Images courtesy of Tumblr, Twitter. 


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