In case you haven’t heard, 2017 is a GREAT year for diversity in books. This does not mean that all the previous years haven’t been great, however. They have always been, it’s just that a lot of readers tend to place their focus on books by white authors or books that are centered on cishet white characters. If you have been following bookish news for a long time, you would know that white authors have disappointed us time and again with blatant racism in their writing.
Authors like Sarah J. Maas and Maggie Stiefvater are wildly popular in the book community, and they really shouldn’t be. Sarah J. Maas is the perfect example of an author who uses the “white savior trope” in her book series, Throne of Glass. She also killed off the only two women of colour in the series, Nehemia being one of them. Nehemia was an amazing character, one of the best, and yet she was killed off to further the character development of Sarah’s self-insert main white character, Celaena. The other character, Sorscha, was Dorian’s (yet another white character) lover, and she was beheaded to show the cruelty of the King. In a series that is so blindingly white, isn’t it extremely obvious how the author is as a person when she kills off the only characters of color in her books?
As for Maggie Stiefvater, she’s just plain racist. In The Raven King, the final installment of her book series The Raven Boys, two of her white characters mock Henry Cheng’s voice. Henry is half-Korean, half-Chinese, and it sparked an outrage among readers of color because, contextually, it can be taken as the characters mocking his accent. This review by Sue from Hollywood News Source sums up all you need to know about this book. Maggie Stiefvater also wrote a whole thread on Twitter after she was called out on her racism. Of course, there are many, many more authors who are unapologetically racist, but my word count would increase drastically, and I really wanted to highlight the racism of this kind of authors because we need to stop supporting them and buying their books.
We want more characters of color as main characters. We want authors to stop killing them off for shock value. We want proper representation and we want LGBT characters and disabled characters to get the representation they deserve.
As a person of color who is mentally ill, there have been countless times where an author’s writing harmed me, simply because they were too ignorant about the struggles PoC face and also re: mental illnesses.
It’s time to put an end to that. 2017 is a great year because more authors have educated themselves on these issues, and also there are just so many authors of color who are utterly amazing that deserve recognition. One of my favorite book blogs, thebookvoyagers, published a list of 2017 books by authors of color. This list is extensive, it’s amazing, and everyone should check this out.