A Black Girl’s Thoughts on #OwnVoices

I am Sarah Raughley and I am a writer of color. African Canadian, to be exact.

So, I love seeing #OwnVoices. I love it because like others have mentioned, it encourages authors from marginalized groups to write books starring protagonists who are marginalized in the same way they are. This movement certainly leads one to recall earlier conversations about diversity in the infant stages of the big YA boom; these conversations often seemed to be around trying to push non-marginalized authors to write characters in ways that they weren’t, ignoring that there were plenty of authors who weren’t ‘normative’ in some way that were ready, willing, and already writing these stories. Often,  you’d find many authors from non-marginalized groups being lauded and applauded for writing diverse characters regardless of whether these representations were done sensitively or responsibly. What #OwnVoices does is it signals to publishers that we’re here: us non-white, non-normative authors are here writing the stories we want to tell, stories that reflect different kinds of realities than the ones the mainstream is used to. It encourages publishers to publish us.

And for a time, all was good. Books were being published that offered real diversity. This is what we wanted. It’s what I wanted and still want. I mean, what could go wrong?

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