February 5, 2016

Diverse Books

Fair Warning: This is a rant.

There is a new thing in book publishing about diversity. The saying is "We need diverse books". The deal is that most of the books published in the U.S. are written by straight, white, normally abled men. This means women, people of color, LBGTQIA folks, and the differently abled have less chance to get their voices heard. And since most of the people in the country are not straight, white, normally abled men, we need books written by people who more accurately represent the makeup of our society.

This is great! I agree. We need to hear those other voices.

Here's where the rant comes in. I have heard numerous people describe a book as diverse. As in "This character is black. Hey! It's a diverse book." This goes all over me.

The definitions of diverse are:

  1. of a different kind, form, character, etc.; unlike:
    a wide range of diverse opinions.

  2. of various kinds or forms; multiform.

  3. including representatives from more than one social, cultural, or economic group, especially members of ethnic or religious minority groups:
    a diverse student body.

You will notice that all the definitions refer to a group of things. As in more than two. One book cannot be diverse. It can be written by a person of color. It can have characters from diverse backgrounds. It can discuss topics of social diversity. But one book cannot be diverse.

I get that they are using shorthand. I do. But I am an old grammar nazi and I hate the inaccuracy of the statement. I feel like it's contributing to the ignorance of the generation fighting for diversity in publishing.

Rant Over