My Most Hated YA Trope…

A white washed cast.

 
Now I’m a young black teen who lives in one of the multi cultural cities in the UK so when I read books that are clearly set in a world that either is or mimics our world it really worries me that almost everyone is white. Not just white either- straight, skinny and almost certainly prett- I mean ‘plain’. Plain has basically lost it’s original meaning because some YA authors would use it to describe the most beautiful protagonist ever made.

Now let me get a few things clear. I am NOT against any white, skinny, heterosexual protagonist who is beautiful. What I am against is that that protagonist is in 90% of YA Novels. Dystopian or Contemporary, Romance or Fantasy. It’s the norm. But it isn’t the norm is it?

I think it’s getting to the almost dangerous point where I automatically white wash every person in a novel I read and I only don’t do this the odd occassion where I can clearly see the person in mind because of the authors creative descriptions. I already knew I was doing this unconsciously but while I was reading The Rest Of Us Just Live Here I realised I was still white washing a character who the author said was black. That was probably just my stupid self being stupid, or have I been more deeply ‘programmed’ to just always see a character a certain way or ethnicity?

I don’t know or maybe I do and I’m just afraid to say the truth. It doesn’t matter because the conclusion stays the same either way. Something needs to change in YA and it is slowly, but surely.

I am also trying to actively read more minority ethnic authors  authors as well to just support them I guess. I really do need to read more LGBTQ+ books as well, just to broaden my understanding of the LGBTQ community through books.

Anyway, if you do have an opinion on this subject matter please do voice them in the comments because I will be very interested in hearing them.

I’ll write soon.

-Astra

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19 thoughts on “My Most Hated YA Trope…

  1. victorialoder says:

    I agree with you. What drives me equally nuts though is an author creates a black character, or an Asian character, or a brown character, or a gay character, and then they draw SO MUCH ATTENTION TO THE FACT OF DIVERSITY that they’re literally trying to pay themselves on the back. Also, as a writer, why not just avoid describing skin colour? Wouldn’t that allow the reader to imagine whatever race they want?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Stranger's Guide to Novels says:

      Yeah I agree with you that a minority character shouldn’t just let their colour define them! They should just be like every other character with some depth. I believe for the time being authors should tell the reader what colour a character is because I think I would just completely jump to a white character if it wasn’t. But the colour of a characters skin shouldn’t be drawn upon so heavily.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Maria says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I hate that its automatically assumed that a character is Caucasian unless their race is explicitly stated, and when characters are diverse, it tends to come off as tokenizing or stereotyping (this is my ‘nerdy Asian friend’ or my ‘sassy gay co-worker’), rather than giving these characters full, fleshed-out personalities. It’s an issue in all genres of literature, but I think it is especially damaging in young adult books, when teenagers really need to see real diversity that reflects their real lives. I’m glad you’re talking about this, because more people need to realize what a problem this is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Stranger's Guide to Novels says:

      Stereotyping in books because of a persons race or sexuality is so NOT RIGHT. Just no. And yes I agree with you that it is especially damaging in YA or even children’s books. There is so much diversity now that there is no excuse for not writing in a multi cultural and sexual cast.
      Yes more people need to start speaking up about it more so that there is more pressure on authors who write these stories!

      Like

  3. anniebmatthews says:

    Oh totally agree. I wrote about this recently, as I was really bothered by it. And by my own contribution to it 😦 The problem with avoiding mention of skin colour is that we are brainwashed into imagining white characters; if authors don’t mention skin colour, that won’t change. That being said, I’m reading a book at the moment where skin colour isn’t mentioned, but diversity is clear in the characters’ names. So I guess, as long as diversity is clear in some way, then it is challenging the white wash.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. fiddlerblue says:

    Diversity has become such a big issue in literature these days, and I think it’s about time people start to appreciate the need for this to be addressed. I was watching this satirical series called Master of None on Netflix, and they just did this episode about “Indian Actors on TV”, they were talking about how a TV show would still have a majority of white actors but will include “ethnic races” to show that they are diverse, but if they include 2 Indian actors then the show is not a diverse show but rather, an Indian show. πŸ˜„ So I think people are starting to realize the need for diversity, but they are not ready to take the plunge just yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Stranger's Guide to Novels says:

      Well we are all ready to take the plunge! πŸ˜„ But seriously some people have their heads stuck in the past. Imagine the amount of books that could be written for an audience that don’t conform to the YA norm. I wish that I could see myself more in books to be honest. We NEED more Diversity, we are not asking.

      Liked by 1 person

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