Sarah McIntyre (jabberworks) wrote,
Sarah McIntyre

diversity, confusion, outrage and the internet

Diversity in books: It can be a scary topic when discussed on the Internet. I don't want to leave out minorities, and I don't want to be accused of speaking for other people from a position of privilege. I get confused when white people scream at each other online about privilege and I miss 99% of the conversation because I'm too busy trying to meet work deadlines. Half the new debate terms confuse me anyway. I want to promote minority writers and illustrators, but not just because of their minority status but because they're good at what they do. There are a lot of bad white writers and illustrators out there. I'm sure there are bad black writers and illustrators, too. But perhaps my tastes are too white; I could be criticised for this.

I worry about friends who say things and get slaughtered on the Internet; I worry that people jump to conclusions and don't try to listen to what they're really saying because the people ranting are so eager to show how progressive they are. Perhaps they are using a flash point to raise a topic that needs a lot more discussion. But at the expense of one person, shamed on Twitter? I don't know. I suppose the person becomes like a hash tag, polarising people so they can make a point. That seems strangely... dehumanising, turning someone into a living hash tag.

I know that I rant sometimes. I worry that I don't listen to people enough or really try to understand what they're saying because I'm trying to make a point, to make what I see as positive changes. The Internet rewards hard, fast point scoring over the slower process of people feeling safe to ask questions, learn and be reconciled with each other.

I worry that I'm using 'I' too much and this blog post is all about me, and I should let someone else have the platform. Perhaps I shouldn't have written this in the first place.

I can't get my head around all the Internet comments. I believe deep down that all people are equally valuable as humans. I try to put a mix of characters into my books, but I don't particularly want my books to be 'issue books', I just want to tell good stories. I want other people of all backgrounds to tell good stories. I'm trying to promote #PicturesMeanBusiness to help illustrators to build their careers, so it will be easier for people from poorer backgrounds to get a foot in the door. I love Ezra Jack Keats' book The Snowy Day because it's a magical story, with a beautiful colour palette and gorgeous shapes and textures. And I think it's cool that, even in 1962, the artist chose to make the main character black. I don't think the story should be discounted because the artist was white, it's a good story. But it's not a story about being black, it's a story about being human and encountering snow, and coming back indoors to warmth.

Enough about me then, go read someone else's work. I should spend less time on the Internet and more time talking face to face with people in my neighbourhood, hearing their stories. Here's a list of links to webcomics featuring black lead characters. (You don't read webcomics? Try a few, you might find something you like.) There are so many different kinds of minorities; it's almost impossible to create a comprehensive list of all the things that make us different from each other, so I'll leave it to this list for now.

  • bog eyed book festival 2018

    Congratulations to Bog Eyed Books for launching their first book festival! That would be my ol' studio mate Gary Northfield and his partner Nicky…

  • fleece station: end of an era

    Today my studio mate Gary Northfield appeared in this rather melancholy photo... Photo by Nicky Evans Yes, it's true, we've moved out of our…

  • #sketchbooksocial!

    I only took a patchy selection of photos at last night's #SketchbookSocial, part of London Book & Screen Week, but you can check the…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.