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Diversity Discussions: Diversity is the New Black – by Jayla P.


Diversity discussions have been picking up steam lately. These discussions aren’t just limited to libraries and books. Television shows, technology industries, and more are picking up on why it’s important to include people of color into the mix. My Twitter feed is abuzz with hashtags such as #weneeddiversebooks and #diveristyinYA.
Check out the Official Site of the We Need Diverse Books campaign here:
http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/
No doubt you have all heard of the recent backlash BookCon received after featuring an all-white, all-male author line up for one of the conference panels. The conference has since added more diverse authors to the mix, and even included a diversity discussion panel on their schedule, but why did it take all this publicity to do so?

It’s really exciting that such a crucial topic is being discussed. It means we are making progress, albeit it’s a slow process. Maybe it’s the pessimist in me but I can’t help to think that all this diversity talk will soon die down. That may take years, but I like that we are at least talking about these things now.
School Library Journal dedicated their May issue to the topic of diversity. If you haven’t read it yet you need to stop reading this and go pick up a copy! There are a ton of killer arguments supporting diversity in libraries. Kathleen Honnings article titled “Still an All White World” provides a solid base for what I want to discuss in this month’s diversity discussions post. I’d like to share two points from the article that made me stop and think.
“We need people to write diverse books” – – Kathleen Honning hit the nail on the head when she made the comment that publishers can’t make diverse books pop out of thin air. People write books. That’s a fact.  The lack of people of color writing books is one of the things killing diversity in publishing. How can we, as librarians, fix this? There are always the good ol’ fashioned writing clubs. Possibly even a diversity book club? Has anyone has experiences with these? Do you think it’s possible to manage?
“We need to buy, read, and share diverse books” – – Taking to Twitter and using the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks is one thing, but we also need to act on this and pick up books that feature characters and writers of all backgrounds. Make it a point to start reading at least one diverse book a month, if you can. Create amazing diversity displays to feature authors of all types of diverse backgrounds.
Finally, there is the issue of diversity as a word. When I opened my copy of SLJ, I was hoping to find a few articles going beyond the racial spectrum of diversity. Lauren Barack wrote a fabulous piece about LGBTQ support for teens in this months School Library Journal. However, it was the only piece that branched away from the typical racial diversity everyone is talking about. Is it too soon to open up the diversity discussion to include not only race, but also religion and sexual orientation? Maybe it’s time we think about adding these topics to our diversity discussions as well. What do you think?
Jayla P. is a new librarian who got her start in libraries as a work study student in college. It wasn’t until one of the reference librarians told me about library school that I began to toy with the idea of becoming a librarian. She currently holds a part-time position as a YS librarian in South Carolina. You can find her talking about books and book related things over at LadyBlueJay.com and blogging periodically here as part of her new Diversity Discussions column.

Comments

  1. Like you, I'm loving all of the talk about diverse books although I know that it makes some people uncomfortable. I've always been on the hunt for more diverse books but for rather obvious reasons. I'm African-American. I want to read Sarah Dessen and Tahereh Mafi type books that feature characters that looks like me. I think we're getting there slowly. I just picked up Drama Queens in the house, and Flirt Portrait of us this past weekend, and I worship the books One Man Guy. The more books we buy that feature minority characters (of all types, and that includes physical disabilities, sexual orientation, and religion) the more that will be published. I just long for the day when we're all one race and no one cares anymore.

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