Monday, September 19, 2016

[Discussion]Is it better when the author doesn't mention race?

The topic of diversity in literature - YA and kidlit in particular - has been a hot topic in the bookish community lately. There has been a call for representations in books and it comes down to accurate portrayal of POC by white authors. The other camp is awkwardly pushing against representation in books. My question is, how do we feel about books that don't mention race at all? 

I've read quite a few books that make a point to avoid mentioning race and I'm on the fence about it. These books typically only mention eye color, hair color, or the closest the author gets to mentioning race is through the last name which can be a hit or a miss when assigning the race.

I occasionally enjoy books like this because it gives me the freedom to diversify the book myself. Love interest has wavy black hair and brown eyes? He's Indian. Main female character has curly hair and freckles? She's African American. But I don't expect every reader to do that. Usually, the "default" in YA and kidlit is white so I wouldn't be surprised if other readers just accepted the characters were white without distinguishing qualities.  

At the same time, I feel like this is cheating. This isn't helping representation in books whatsoever, it's just a way for authors to avoid these types of conversations. I am of the opinion that authors should properly represent the world that surrounds them, be it fantasy or contemporary.

So what are your thoughts on books that make an effort to note mention race? Hate it? Love it? Tell me why in the comment section!


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