Posts Tagged With: racism

Diversity for Diversity’s Sake

A friend showed me this video and it inspired me to make this week’s Book Club Thursday to be about the books that intimidate me.  But we do not create in a vacuum and there are more important things to talk about even in the world of books.

At some point in high school, I realized that 80% of the books we were assigned were about guys.  Sure, we read some Jane Austen and To Kill a Mockingbird…but isn’t Atticus Finch kind of the main character of that one?  Once I saw it, I couldn’t not see it.  It felt like the message was: your stories, as a woman, are not as important as the men’s.  Ergo, you are not as important.

It took me longer to consider what skin color most of those protagonists were.  Because I’m white and I have the privilege of being the “default” in that matter.  In books, if race isn’t specified, we as readers assume white.  It’s why there was such an uproar about black Hermione.  As consumers, we should question those assumptions.  But as creators, we should be explicit.  This goes for color, sexuality, gender identity, etc.  As long as society has a default in mind, the creators must go out of their way to define those minority representations if they include them.  And they should be including them.

Yes, I believe in diversity of the sake of diversity.

First of all, thinking diversity in stories is just “political correctness” or “sjw-talk” goes back to the idea that white is default.  “Diversity should add something to the story.”  Well, what does the character being white add to the story?  “Why does that character have to be black?”  As opposed to what, exactly?

The arguments that diversity “isn’t realistic” or books are “fantasy/sci-fi/escape” implies you either think you live in a world of only white people, or you wish you did.  The first is statistically inaccurate.  The second is just scary.

Diversity in stories is especially important because we, as individuals and a society, internalize our stories.  Just like reading only books about boys tells girls they matter less, telling only stories about white people tell people of color the same thing.  And, bonus, it tells white people that too.  Thinking of ourselves as default leads us to think of others as, well, “other,” creating the groundwork for us to think of them as lesser.  It’s especially easy to do since we come from a long history of doing so.

Thinking about that, it occurs to me that, of the African-American stories we do read in school, they’re almost all slave narratives.  It is absolutely something we need to study, but why do we stop there?

I’m white.  I’m speaking from a place of privilege that I’m still learning to acknowledge.  And no, I don’t think changing our stories is the magical, overnight solution.  But I do believe stories are powerful and I do believe they can have a major impact on the people who read them – or listen to them or watch them.  And since nothing is going to change until we do, I think it’s one step we can and should take as a society.

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Breaking News

I was going to wait until tomorrow to post something about the Darren Wilson verdict for a couple reasons.  First off, I wanted to give myself time to process, to research, to actually try and understand everything that’s going on.  Second, I usually post on Tuesday anyway.  But I have changed my mind.  Not because I think anyone especially needs to hear what I have to say, but because I need to say it, I need to do the writing in order to do the processing.

Here’s what I know: Darren Brown is not even being tried here.  They have determined a crime has not been committed.  Even though, as this blogger points out, it is incredibly unusual for someone not to be indicted.  Even though, as the prosecutor himself said less than an hour ago, “There is no doubt that Darren Wilson is responsible for Michael Brown’s death.”  Because “anyone can use force in defense.”

Except…isn’t there a such thing as excessive force?  He was shot six times.  Even if he WAS a threat, six is far more than necessary to neutralize it.

Oh, and I know that “anyone” thing isn’t true because this happened despite Stand Your Ground laws.

I understand there are a lot of different viewpoints, and I understand that witnesses are not always reliable.  But this was an 18 year old whose body was left laying in the street for four hours after his death.

I can’t get over that.  I feel like there are far too many questions.  At the very least, I want this to lead to cameras on cops. I want more transparency and accountability.

And all of the aftermath?  All of the peaceful protests that are being talked about as violent, even though the pictures show policemen in armor and protesters with their hands in the air?

My heart hurts.

I’ve also read a lot about how this isn’t our battle (“us” being the white people).  I understand where this is coming from, and I understand what you mean.  And I’m not sure how to respond to that.  Because I know I will never completely appreciate what you are going through, I know that I am highly privileged and I know that I am safe from this kind of violence and oppression.  But I feel like equality should be everyone’s battle.

So, that being said…I lend you my support, my ear, and my heart. I ask that you forgive me my own transgressions.  I hope the world can get better.  I hope Anne Frank was right.

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Voting Day and Equal Pay

Today’s the day!  You all know what I’m talking about. That day. That SUPER important day that affects absolutely everyone everywhere.

Happy Star Wars…wait.

Okay, I was just informed Star Wars Day is on May Fourth.  Easy mistake.  Could happen to anyone.  So what’s so special about today?

Oh, it’s voting day in the United States?  Nevermind.

Anyway, it is voting day, I will be voting directly after work, and as such I have spent some time this morning researching the candidates.  Totally last minute, I know.  But while I was looking things up, I came across this:

“Equal Pay is a family issue.”  (

Okay, sure.

“Women…are a growing number of breadwinners in their families.”

And now I’m going to stop you for a second.  Because that’s completely true.  I come from a family where that has always been the case, especially since my father passed away.  But no one ever says that the reason men make more money is because they have more to support.  A man does not get a pay raise when he gets married or when his wife has a baby.  He is paid solely based on how much work he puts in.

If it was based on how much money you had to spend to support yourself and your dependents, single women should make more than single men.  Look at their expenses: pads and tampons, which are completely necessary.  Birth control, which you might argue isn’t but that women are considered majorly responsible for.  Even how expensive cosmetic products are, which are marketed towards women and highly encouraged by the culture we live in.

But we live in a capitalistic society, where money is exchanged for work.  When women are paid less, you are literally telling them that their time is worth less.

I also feel the need to mention that race is a HUGE factor and the 77 cents on a dollar statistic that is often quoted is for the WHITE population.  It’s even less when you get into people of color, which is also not okay.

So, yes, equal pay is a family issue, but like racism is a family issue in that it has been deeply ingrained in our culture and it will take the family to help stamp it out.  In that it affects us all and not just those that are being discriminated against.  In that one day I will have children and one day I will adopt children and I do not currently know what their genders and races will be and I am terrified to think they will not be treated fairly and as they deserve.

Which is why I do believe in affirmative action.  Because centuries of institutionalized racism and sexism has left us with a low bar for “equal rights” and in order to bridge that gap, sometimes you have to force people and businesses to treat those oppressed people better.

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