I’m a parenting writer, blogger and mother of four. My kids range in age from 30 to 6 (30, 12, 6 &6, to be exact). I do a number of things – my “day job” is public relations/writing/communications consulting, and I also act as a parenting spokesperson on various media programs and outlets (print and online). In other words, I talk a lot. Frankly, I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of genre fiction, but I support any opportunities for writing and popular fiction to reflect the diverse society in which we live.
Q: When growing up, who were your inspirational role models and how did they help you become the person you are today?
I had many; from a literary perspective, I greatly admired Harper Lee and of course still take away the important lessons learned from To Kill A Mockingbird so many years ago. I loved and still love the original Star Trek series because as a Black girl watching Uhura as the Chief Communications Officer on the Enterprise was both inspiring and interesting to me.
Q: Explain how you feel about present day role models, in particular, for young people who read or watch Genre Fiction / Shows.
There aren’t many, are there, at least from a diversity perspective? I think that there’s a paucity of strong role models for young people in general, specifically within the genre fiction/shows. It seems that so many programs and books are based on Hollywood-type storylines, e.g. lacking in depth and character development. But that’s just my opinion.
Q: How do you think society can change the representation of role models?
I think that making an effort to present multiple voices and points of view that reflect our diverse world could only be a good thing.
Q: How do you feel about the “whitewashing” of fiction?
Well, I can’t say that it’s really a surprise. The trend towards the removal or outright denial of perspectives that are other than the majority voice and culture is nothing new, sadly. Of course, I don’t like it and I hope that things will change.
Q: Recently, J.K. Rowling supported the casting of a black actress as the adult-aged Hermione for a London stage play. If you are familiar with Rowling’s work, do you feel that she represented Hermione as a black character? Is not specifying skin colour enough to create character diversity? How do you think authors/writers can properly represent diversity without deferring to stereotypes of race or culture?
Kudos to J.K. Rowling for using her position of celebrity and her range of voice to support inclusion and diversity in her work. Unfortunately, because of the historical lack of diverse characters in fiction generally, it does need to be noted or addressed when a character is one that is other than the assumed majority, at least at this point in time. Perhaps we’ll get to a place where diversity is no longer an issue of discussion, and that the inclusion of various types of characters and voices is the norm.
Q: Here’s the kicker: should white authors, and able-bodied authors, write about diverse characters, or should that opportunity only be for people who live the life of diversity? (The same could be said of gender).
As long as the representation is realistic and respectful, I think that White authors can write about diverse characters. It’s all in the representation and how the story is told.
If you’d like to be part of my #WeNeedDiverseBooks interview series, email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s more to come in this series of interviews. Next up in the series: The Diversity of Disability. Have you read the first post?
Please note that although I did not create the #WeNeedDiverseBooks tag, I wholeheartedly agree with the movement!