Friday, May 6, 2016

Diversity (again???)

I've been thinking a bit about how I write diversity, coming from the direction of a white person with non-white and gay friends and family. And yet I don't have many non-straight, non-white people I hang around with. To be honest, I don't have many people I hang around with. I'm a total introvert, have social anxiety, and maybe a touch of prosopagnosia.
Oliver Sacks wrote this article for the New Yorker back in 2010.
You can argue that he was a brilliant man, but apparently he wouldn't recognize you, no matter what you argue.
Or else my social anxiety makes it hard for me to look at faces long enough to remember them. Or maybe my social anxiety makes it hard for me to retain the faces, since my brain has already gone bye-bye before time comes to store anything in long-term memory. Heck, I can't even remember someone's name three seconds after the introduction. Doesn't matter what you look like.


It seems like I don't know very many minorities in real life. Is it because I come across as uninteresting? Or because I come across as disapproving and possibly racist? I'm totally not, I promise. I'm well aware that people have different pasts and upbringings and challenges to face in life, sometimes based on exterior signs of difference. So I'm not color-blind. I try to be nice to people, but I'm weird and awkward. With everyone. So if you're nice to me (but not too nice until I know you better), I'm nice to you. Otherwise, I'm probably staring like a deer in the headlights. and I'm either silent or talking too much.

I've just been thinking a lot about all the characters in my Work in Progress New Adult novel, who are mostly white. The main character (because in spite of the ensemble nature of the cast, there is one), is part Puerto Rican, but she doesn't much claim that part because it's her dad, who has had almost no contact with her ever (yet he shows up in the middle). A couple of the main cast are gay. Some minor characters are POC (People of Color), but they're minor. And I feel bad about that...

I loosely based this book on the Big Chill soundtrack and even more loosely on the movie, with its ensemble cast of college friends. Talk about lack of diversity. Jeff Goldblum is Jewish and....Glenn Close has curly hair? Even the few minor characters we see are white. Anyone who has any aspect of their sexuality shown is straight.

Essentially, I feel like I'm going to mess up the representation of people I don't know enough about. I haven't had long talks with my non-white non-straight friends and family about race and how they've lived with our US society with its deeply-ingrained racism and anti-gayness. I think Twitter has given me as many things to think about (or more) than real life conversations. Maybe I don't engage on a deep enough level.

Or maybe I'd rather ask: how are the kids, what are you up to these days, how's it going, and OMG did you see this?

So I feel like a fraud. What else is new?

Essentially, I feel like I should be writing more diverse characters, but I also feel like I don't know what I'm writing about and don't want to be insulting. And people discuss this sort of thing on Twitter all the time and yet I don't know what to say when I'm actually writing. I'm too self-conscious, I guess.

(Not so fraudulent: I have two French 17th century historical romance novels out, The Indispensable Wife and The Honorable Officer. And another one coming...soon I hope. We're on galleys now and I have a pretty pretty cover for it.)

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