My friend Kav wrote a post thingy. Info on them is at the bottom.
Through my time in the book community, I’ve noticed some habits that many in the community have. One of said habits is putting diversity as a box to check mark – which can often happen when one has privilege and doesn’t understand the experience of being marginalized. Related, people will often view diversity as, “I have my one gay character or my one ethnically ambiguous character,” and that’s enough. But it’s not.
The world is a diverse place. Society is diverse. I can promise you that at least half of the people you see in a day are marginalized in some fashion, and maybe the other half are 100% privileged. To act as though diversity is a trend to hop on or a box to check off does no justice to the people who are living as your box to check off. When someone thinks by including their token POC character or their token LGBTQIAP+ character that they’ve accomplished, they’re not only walking over a million other marginalization, but they’re walking over all the people who have multiple marginalizations.
I’m a queer teen of color who deals with multiple mental illnesses. I know intersectionality because intersectionality is a huge part of my identity. I’m not alone in being apart of multiple marginalizations, many marginalized people are marginalized in more way than one. People like us deserve to see ourselves in books and TV shows, too. We deserve to see a character who looks like us and feels like and is attracted to the same people as us, or to no one at all, depending on your identity.
I’ve talked about how I’ve never had a book fully represent even the queer aspect of me. As a biromantic, asexual, nonbinary teen, I have multiple queer identities and have only seen different parts of those in different books. Furthermore, I’ve never seen a character of my skin color with a part of my queer identity, or a character with my mental illnesses of my skin color, or any other combination of my marginalizations.
And I am not alone in this.
A few faces in the community push for intersectionality even harder than I do and for the majority of them, it’s because they are also victims of the “diversity quota” mentality that exists for many others in our community. There are instances when a fellow teen is fortunate to see themselves represented, even when they are part of multiple marginalizations, but that percentage is so much lesser than the teens who’ve only certain aspects of them in certain forms of media.
To the privileged people who’ve seen all aspects of them marginalized in multiple books, TV shows, and movies, I ask you – don’t you want that for those of us who don’t look like or think like or behave like what’s seen as the majority? Often, representation is taken for granted because it’s assumed that everyone has it. It’s as though having queer characters is ‘pushing an agenda’ or having a black character is ‘making things political’ when really, some writers just want readers to see themselves in a book.
Representation should be a right. Media should be overflowing with different forms of representation of characters with many different marginalizations and personalities so that every consumer gets to see a character they relate to completely, but that’s not the world we live in. Intersectionality is one of the first steps that needs to be taken in order to fight the diversity war. Without intersectionality, you are picking and choosing which forms of diversity you want to stand for, when you should be standing for and fighting for all of it. You should be fighting for the lesbian Latina girl, for the autistic Pakistani boy, etc. Your fight should be for everyone, not just for who you choose.
Representation should be a right. But it’s not. It’s a privilege.
Kav is a 15 year old nonbinary, biromatic, asexual, South Indian teen who loves fashion, books, and social justice. They are frequently active on Twitter and YouTube talking about a combination of book-related and social justice-related topics. You can often find them active here: https://www.youtube.com/c/xreadingsolacex