Recently, I keep seeing posts about how to do “diversity in fiction” correctly and one piece of advice is bugging me.
Don’t add diverse characters just for diversity’s sake.
This feels wrong to me. People are diverse, they just exist without needing a reason. How about going at this question form the other side: Don’t stray from white-hetero-normalcy unless it’s justified. Is this what we want?
People exist in all shapes and types and they don’t need a reason to be there, they just are.
With the things I’m working on right now, whenever I need to add a new character, I ask myself questions like: Is there a reason why this can’t be a woman? Is there a reason why she can’t be bisexual? Is there a reason why she can’t be asexual? Is there a reason why she can’t be from Iran? Or Brasil? Is there a reason why she can’t be in a wheelchair?
Now I’m not answering each of those questions with a No, I’m trying to build a character not some kind of check-list soup. But I know that my life and upbringing has instilled stereotypes and prejudices in me and may cause me to favor certain types of characters. So yes, I’m adding diversity for diversity’s sake. Because life is diverse and it doesn’t need a reason for it.
(crossposted on my tumblr)