Multicultural and diverse representation in literature can be boiled down to a universal concept: we all have stories.
What do I mean when I say diverse?
All diverse experiences should be recognized, including (but not limited to) “LGBTQIA community, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”
We are never going to exhaust story-telling as a medium for connecting. It is one of our fundamental instincts; race and language are not barriers with story-telling, they simply enrich the experience of listening to someone’s mind. Story-telling is universal because we understand their necessity and how they feed our emotions and education. It is not an education that is institutionalized or halted outside of a classroom; it’s a cycle that informs the way we live. So why should that be any different than the stories we can hold in our hands? As a writer of color, I have never been validated with printed words. I would always have to re-wire them in a way that allowed me to see myself as the protagonist. In the back of my head, however, I was hyper-aware that these stories never seemed to be written for me.
White authors have always dominated our high school reading lists. Think of the authors and books that are considered “classics”- Shakespeare, the Brontes, Hemingway, Austen. These authors deserve their place in literary history, but they only convey a certain kind of history. Culturally specific experiences are near impossible to find in, not only school, but the best selling lists we are so often exposed to.
As a writer of color, it’s my responsibility to educate others on how our voices carry valuable experiences, just as anyone. The importance of seeing yourself in a story cannot be stressed enough. We are all deserving of a story that reflects what we know as life.
“Reading more diverse literature has the power to convey the universality of human experience and show that we really have more in common with one another than expected.” – Sunili Govinnage