writing resolution and inspiration. thank you, bridgerton.
i was planning to do a video on my youtube channel for this, but it is the chinese new year holiday here, so all the kids are home and we're all really busy. so, i will still do the video, but for now, i really just wanted to share this. it's been in me for a little while, just begging to get out, so here it is.
i hadn't been planning to make a formal new year's resolution this year because nothing was really jumping out at me to do. then i watched a lot of reaction videos for the netflix bridgerton series (because i don't have netflix here, so this is the best i get right now). like most, i really applauded shonda rhimes' vision, having such a richly diverse cast. it was amazing to see such successful inclusion. audiences loved it. then i watched a booktube vlog called communiTEA with jess owens. she was talking about a con event where the author of the bridgerton books was asked about the lack of diversity in her books. her response was...disappointing. she commented that she didn't write about marginalized characters because she wanted HEA's in her books. while owens allowed that in reality during the regency era, a black character as anything other than a slave may be unrealistic, and that their stories may not be as happily satisfying as white couples, she was quick to scorn, however, that the books are FICTION. as an author, she is able to write a story however she wants and black characters (and by extension, any minority) deserve a happy ending as much as white characters. and here is where the seed planted.
do i think julia quinn, the bridgerton book serise author, is racist? no, i really don't. however, i do see how perhaps she is not, as they say, woke. as authors, i feel like we tend to write what we know. not that we have to make all of our characters exactly like ourselves, but she is a white female, therefore she feels like she has a much better understanding and grasp on white female characters. it probably never occurred to her to write anything else. i have had conversations with my family about this very same issue in my own writing. i didn't even realize until i was watching owens' segment that i had absolutely no diversity in my own books. every single one of my characters has been white. why? because that's my comfort zone. it's what i've known, you know? which is weird because...i'm not exactly white. i'm half, though i was raised by my white mother's side of the family and had no contact with my Polynesian father's side. when my daughter asked why i don't write other races in my stories, i said it was because i was afraid of getting it wrong. i was concerned that if i wrote a minority into my books, that it would offend those minorities and they'd say "that's not how we talk" or "we would never do that" or, the biggest worry, "you're perpetuating a stereotype". for example, i once wrote a story (unfinished because of this comment, actually) that had a british male lead. a beta reader said that his dialogue was unrealistic, that it looked like i just googled british phrases and plugged them in. the ironic part is that i was actually patterning his speech after a few friends i had that were from england. but not being british myself made it difficult to fix the problem. so the project was set aside while i focused on something else. anytime i read a book with a gay best friend, also, i find myself thinking that the author has simply recycled an outrageous flamboyant character from tv or something and that it makes the community look bad because not all gay people are like that. i am guilty on both sides of the aisle!
so this was the crux of my diversity problem. it has stuck with me and i hadn't figured out a way around it, so i ignored it. i wrote what i knew in my comfort zone, white american heterosexual women. i honestly didn't even think it was a problem, either, because who was going to care?
then, i watched the presidential inauguration. president biden spoke about how people were just beginning to loose their blinders to the systemic racism that has been in our country for so long. and here was my epiphany. that little seed that had been planted earlier sprouted and shot up. i think it's one of those plants that doesn't even need much water to flourish.
so, why i should care about diversity in my own books: because life imitates art. if all the tv shows, movies, and books adopted the same vision as shonda rhimes with bridgerton, imagine how the world would change! readers who are immersed in a completely diverse society in their beloved books would come to see that same diversity as completely normal in real life...as it should be! a black james bond? no one would even blink. an interracial couple? sure, not a thing. a black and asian female vice president of the united states? seems plausible to me! imagine that sort of world. a world where no one even thinks about the color of someone's skin as anything other than trivial rather than a defining trait. i think, if creators jump on board, it could really change things, and faster than has been seen before. think about it. how have popular books and tv series and movies impacted societies? what have they made more acceptable in such a quick time? think 50 shades, harry potter, charlie's angels, anime cosplay, etc. people love the fictional worlds we write. they reach across other borders. it doesn't matter that each reader has a different culture, reality, experience, or anything else. huge communities form simply over the love of a fictional work. i'm not atriculating this as well as i'd hoped, but i'm writing this while also entertaining my two year old. hopefully you're getting what i'm trying to say.
so, with this new inspiration, i make my new year's resolution to have more inclusion and diversity in my books. i will throw out any preconceived notions and insecurities and remember that i am the author of fiction and can write anything, with any character, that i want. and i want a world with complete equality, based not on race or nationality, but on actions and character. if any other creators happen across this blog post, i encourage and challenge them to do the same. we can be part of this movement; an important part. integral, even, if enough people take it up.
so, happy new year, readers. be on the look out for the new world.