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February 3, 2019: Diversity

My current work in progress (the last of the Peacekeeper books) stands at 22,808 words putting me solidly at the approximate 25% point. If all goes well, the novel might be ready for publication by the end of this year.  We shall see.

One of the primary reasons I created a Twitter account was to stay informed on the activities of the people I've met at Launch Pad. It has also been an educational experience as writers like to share some of their important thoughts on the platform. The other day, I read a tweet from Katrina Jackson that one of the people I follow had replied to. The tweet basically asked why authors found it necessary to identify the race of their non-white characters yet did not identify the race of the white characters in their works? Her answer is simple and it points out one of the major issues with our society in general. Writers point out that a character (minor or not) is black, or Asian, or Native American because most readers automatically assume the characters in almost any novel are white.

Her point was well taken by many other writers, myself included. And, I've done the same in my books. I did it to point out the fact that the universe I write in is diverse and race, sexual orientation, and personal beliefs are no longer used to denigrate a person or categorize them into a marginalized group. A writer should not have to point out that a character's race unless that fact plays an important part in the book. I never thought about it, but pointing out a character's race is like a person describing a new employee to a significant other and specifying that person's race only if the person is not white. It means we see others who are not white as different when they are not. We are all human.

There are instances where a person's racial heritage should be identified. I have a Native American character in one of my books and the fact that he was Native American played an important part in the book. This would be the only case where pointing out a character's race should be done.

This discussion about racial identification can also apply to sexual orientation. If you want to write a diverse book and include people of all colors, customs, beliefs, and sexual orientation, you don't have to come out and point a finger at a character and say "she's lesbian" or "he's black" or "he was once a she". If it's important to the plot of the story, then work it into the prose in a manner that the reader can clearly see who the character is without having to resort to a pointed declaration. When someone walks into a room, they don't stop in the doorway and shout "Hi! I'm a black transgender person!". Pointing out a character's race or sexual orientation during the first description of that character is like doing the same thing.

We are all human. Who cares what the color of our skin is or who we love. We are all human.

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