Guest Post by Libertad Araceli Tomas
I asked myself this question a few weeks before I started my book blog with my sister, Twinja Book Reviews. Before we started it, I think it’s safe to say that we barely read any books that featured diverse characters. We only picked up popular reads and unfortunately they only featured the default “white”, able-bodied, thin, cisgendered, male, heterosexual characters.
Before our book blog, my sister and I read but it was only while we were on vacation or bored with whatever was on TV. Unfortunately, due to some cut backs we had to disconnect our cable service and there we were, BORED as ever. Reading became the go to activity and surprisingly we found it more entertaining than anything that could ever be on TV (except for The Legend of Korra and SuperNatural, let’s not get hasty now). One thing we kept noticing when we did our regular “book run” at some local book stores is that while fantasy took us to other worlds, it barely reflected the world we step foot in everyday, a diverse one.
While there are many who really feel as though they don’t see race and don’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, sexual identity, size, religion, or color of skin, it makes me wonder why books don’t reflect that. I’m not talking stereotypes, I’m talking real life, 3-dimensional characters who just happen to be different than that of the “default.” And if some readers do live in an affirming, color blind society as they say, what stops you from picking up a book that has a POC or a transgendered individual as the main protagonist?
Since my sister and I started blogging, we decided that the only way we would stand out in the blogging world (because there are soooo many great blogs out there) is to shed some light on what really drove us and that is Multiculturalism in Fantasy, Science Fiction and Paranormal books (our favorite genres). It was a rough start because to find multicultural books you have to really search a lot! Believe me they are out there but they don’t get half the promotion as let’s say a book like Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, will get.
What I’ve noticed in multicultural books is that often they bring something extremely different than mainstream books. They bring legends, myths and lore alive in different cultures that you don’t get a chance to see in mainstream books. And honestly the stories I’ve read so far have been awesome!
Growing up Afro-Latina was difficult. As a child there was no such thing as calling yourself Afro-Latina. You were either a black person or a Latin person. Most people had no idea that Black people had flooded the population in Latin America. I was considered foreign by the things I ate, my unusual first name (which is spanish for Freedom), and the language I heard at home (Spanish). African-Americans and Latinos rarely excepted me because of my very dark skin. This very fact drove me to my love of Fantasy and Science Fiction in books, but what I noticed was people like me were always left out of the “Spectrum.”
I think when some people hear what we focus on with our blog, they hear “Oh, so you exclude books that feature white characters?” But that’s not it at all. We just try to make a home for authors who write books that are easily relatable to anyone regardless of our differences. After all don’t we all fall in love? Don’t we all have issues with our parents? Don’t we all want to take down our corrupt government for a chance of peace?
At first, we didn’t think many people cared about this subject, but the deeper we’re getting into it, we’ve been flooded with requests from authors that write multicultural lead characters (we didn’t think we’d get many requests) and a lot of fellow readers who do want to see more diversity in their favorite genres. I figured the least we could do to spread the word is spotlight authors who make diversity in fiction the everyday thing that it should be.
After all, it’s not about complaining about the authors who don’t include it, it’s about celebrating the ones that do!