Introducing You to a Hashtag You Should Know: #WeNeedDiverseBooks

photo “Unity in Diversity” by Flickr’s fady habib
photo “Unity in Diversity” by Flickr’s fady habib

Today’s diverse voice comes to us via Elizabeth Stephens, author of the novel Population. Though writing has been her unrelenting passion since the age of 10, Population is Elizabeth’s first published novel. She has a repertoire of short horror publications under her belt and has worked as a political correspondent and travel writer across the US, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. She currently lives in Johannesburg with her boyfriend and a fat cat called Zurg. Here she works as a communications consultant and author. She writes:

I wanted to write an article on diversity for Writer Unboxed because this is an issue that hasn’t received enough attention.  Writer Unboxed is a huge platform with a broad network, and an incredible place to showcase this issue and help movements like #weneeddiversebooks and the authors that support it, gain momentum.

You can learn more about Elizabeth on her website, and by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

Introducing You to a Hashtag You Should Know: #WeNeedDiverseBooks

My novel Population, is a post-apocalyptic, science fiction, violent, romantic, adventure fest that features a strong female protagonist and fits ideally into the #weneeddiversebooks movement.  Like other online movements, #weneeddiversebooks is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in literature.  

But why is it important and why is it so crucial that my book fits into it?

I’m currently at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference seated in a stiff-backed chair in Emerald Ballroom D.  The everything-but-emerald room is half-full and most of the occupants are women.  Similarly, the panel at the front is compiled of industry professionals, three-fourths of which are female.  All good signs, and show that the space has opened up in recent years for women.

What I don’t see however, are people of color.  In fact, there are only three of us in the room.  But why does this matter?

Frankly, my answer is simple: consciousness.  Consciousness and inclusion.  There’s no reason that more voices can’t be brought into the conversation; on the contrary, they absolutely should.

Movements like #indiebooksbeseen and #weneeddiversebooks are committed to the ideal that embracing traditionally underrepresented voices in commercial literature will lead to greater acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality — particularly among children’s genres.  This will empower a wide range of readers in the process, beginning at a young age, and curb the stigmas associated with being the “other.” (more…)


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