On Saturday, George Zimmerman was declared not guilty of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. Despite the fact that there was all evidence to the contrary, despite the fact that Zimmerman was expressly told not to go after Martin, and despite the fact that Martin had done absolutely nothing wrong, Zimmerman’s shooting Martin because he was ‘scared’ meant that he got off scotch-free.
He even got his gun back.
I’ve been wanting to write a post on why it’s important for YA to represent multiple ethnicities for a long time now. On why, despite the fact that books with whitewashed covers still, it’s important to show that there’s as much racial diversity in the YA corner of the bookstore as there is in the world. On why writing stories and showcasing stories with people of color is important, not only to people of color, but to how the world around us operates.
People of color have different experiences from white people. They still have to fight racist tendencies and racist norms. They are more likely to be frisked in NYC for no reason. They are more likely to be killed or arrested. They can fire a gun to warn off an attacker, not hitting anybody, and still be sent to jail for more time as a man who brutally murdered a teenage boy.
They’re told that they’ll do less well in school because of something as inconsequential as the amount of pigment in their skin – or they’re told that they’ll do better and are shunned when they don’t because of something as inconsequential as the amount of pigment in their skin.
And they are called names, offensive names and hurtful names and names I would never dare say because damn it, you don’t dehumanize people like that.
You wanna know why I want more representation on covers and in books in the YA section? Because the more something is represented, the more accepted it is. And the less shit like this happens.
I have no funny lines today. I have no anecdotes, no links to Goodreads about books with protagonists who are people of color, no quotes from Twitter. All I have today is anger and shelves full of books with white faces.
And all I want is change.