One of my goals for 2015 is to read more diversely. This is something that has been brought to my attention after reading several articles on Book Riot about this very topic.
Most of the authors that I read were white (white women to be specific) and therefore almost all the books I read had white main characters in them. Growing up the majority of my friends were white and therefore I wanted to be white too. I wanted to have brown or blonde hair, lighter skin, and blue eyes. I even wanted freckles. I also wanted a last name that people could easily pronounce. I used to want to just blend in with everyone instead of being the one that always stuck out. I hated that someone could just reference “the Asian girl” and it almost always meant me. It’s refreshing to know though that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
The thing is, as awful as all that sounds, it’s made me become so much more aware today than I think most people are.
Sadly I know a lot more prejudice and racism that my white friends will luckily never experience. I’ve been called names, made fun of, and heard so many jokes about features of myself that I can never change. It’s hard also seeing depictions of my race and culture constantly being made fun of in media and entertainment. While I can take and make a cultural joke, it’s also really hard to hear and see truly derogatory insults on a regular basis.
I do feel like I see the world differently than most of my friends. Unless they go out of their comfort zone and do some traveling, it will be very likely they will ever feel like the minority. I don’t know think they know what it’s like to sit down and see you’re the only one in a sea of similar people. And it’s probably hard to understand why I would not want to be myself and be like them instead. You can learn to understand this more if you marry into the culture but at the same time, it’s still really hard to understand what I go through.
I’m not saying all this to play up any race cards or make anyone feel guilty. I’m just trying to explain why I am in favor of learning more about diversity. In those Book Riot posts, it’s talked a lot how most books we read subconsciously are written by white authors and also about white characters. It is what sells. Just like the writers in the post, I too got very excited any time there was a character in a book that looked like me. Claudia Kishi from The Baby-Sitters Club was my favorite character because she was the only Asian girl and therefore I could relate to her. Mulan is my favorite Disney princess because she looked like me. I have always been disappointed that there was only one Asian American Girl historical doll, Ivy, and even then she’s the sidekick friend and not the main doll but even then, it’s exciting because hey, she looks like me! But these are exceptions to the rule and not the norm sadly.
I’d love for more people to become more culturally diverse. I can’t force or make anyone else learn or understand this. But I can do it for myself in books I choose to read. And it’s helping me to see the world a lot differently in a good way.