But what do we mean by diversity? All too often, it's simply to have more people of color, or more women, and then declare victory. That's too simplistic, and I would argue is more damaging, in the long run, than having no diversity at all.
Why? Well, first of all it denies the user from having the rich viewpoint that a person of different color, gender or orientation can give them. Think about it -- does making a character black, for example, without bringing their viewpoint really do anything for your story?
Consider the following examples, from related TV shows. First: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
|Image from Wikipedia|
Contrast this to other Star Trek TV shows -- such as Star Trek Voyager or Star Trek Enterprise.
Similarly, the second in command, Chakotay, played by Robert Beltran, was the first time a Native American character played a major role in Star Trek, and, to be honest, the first time I had seen this in any TV show. Then there was the Asian, Ensign Kim, played by Garret Wang. And finally a black Vulcan, Tuvok, played by Tim Russ. None of these characters brought any kind of memorable viewpoint of their race to the show. Indeed, I remember some backlash about Tuvok on the early Internet when the show launched. The question was asked: How could green-blooded Vulcans have black skin? The character (and the actor) were put in a bad position from day one.
In my opinion, the ultimate issue here was lazy diversity. Throw a black character, an Asian, a Native American and an empowered woman in there and declare victory. Is it any wonder that this show is generally seen as one of the weaker Treks, and not even close to DS9 in terms of quality? There was so much opportunity to expand the experience and engagement of the viewership by bringing a real exposure to Korean, Native American and Black (Vulcan) culture, but instead we had cookie cutter characters who were no different despite the rich racial heritage the character could bring to the table
So, as you think about diverse books, and about the importance of diversity, remember this: Lazy Diversity is worse than No Diversity. Bring us characters with richness of experience - richness earned because they're black, asian, female, alien, gay, transgender, disabled and so much more. Make our world better with this diversity, because that's what good books do.
And that's what I've tried to do with Space Cadets. I hope you love it.