Today, continuing my examination of writing diversely from Saturday, I'd like to discuss more of what I've learned through my edits of COCA and through Kaye's Ch1Con session on the same topic.
As I said Saturday, my biggest revision so far for COCA as been fixing the fact that I made my Latina main character "white" in all the ways that matter. As I've been working on these edits, what Kaye talked about at Ch1Con has been vital in helping me to reframe my understanding of diversity and even worldbuilding so much that I almost can't believe I didn't understand these things before. The whole process seems so much easier now that I understand Kaye's thoughts.
Basically, Kaye's main point in regards to how to appropriately write diversely was to use incidental diversity. Basically, incidental diversity is all about the details. These are the little cultural and lifestyle things that make up the diverse experience of a human being: food, beliefs, clothing, experience, all in detailed bite-size form. Having lived a sheltered life in a little town, I've not had much of a chance to appreciate the little things about my life that are different from the things in others' lives. (Not to mention, in general, I'm not a detail-oriented person. I've been described as a "global learner" by teachers since I was seven.) Going to Chicago, for a second time now, allowed me to see more clearly how so many of the things I take for granted aren't normal for others. Not just in a privileged kind of way either. No, there are tons of different good and bad details related to the incidental diversity of my life, and all of your lives, too, that you might not even notice
One of the bad would be microaggressions, comments made towards marginalized groups that are repetitive, annoying, and tend to subtly "other" or demean the group. It can be hard to call people on out that, because a lot of the time they just don't understand why it's hurtful, so I recommend you pay attention to the thoughts people share about these, not just for creative endeavors, but to help you become a more empathetic individual overall.
There can be other bad incidentally diverse details too: parts of the culture or the experience that you don't enjoy but are the reality of it anyway. The bad is just as important to express as the good, when you're making something diverse, so long as you're not being stereotypical and are genuinely researching the truth of these important details as they are. I'd say this is most especially true for mental illness and disability, both of which tend to have more bad details than good. Glossing over these things or writing a "miracle cure" negates the real challenges that people like me face every single day and also the fact that we're kind of stuck with them, mostly for forever. If you can't face up to the real nastiness of the experience, it's not going to be a fair portrayal.
Of course, there are also tons of good or even just neutral things about any human experience you'll want to get right when you're creating incidental diversity. Again, these are often cultural things that cover a broad expanse of lifestyle: language, food, expectations, relationships, decorations, holidays, values, etc. There are so many details to express, I almost can't fathom it!
So I thought I'd share some incidental diversity in my own life that I've been noticing. I'll split this up into a few different categories for you to explore. Enjoy! And please share your own, too. I'd love more perspective on the diversity of our human world.
Living in New Mexico
Being a Mormon
Thanks for reading all of that, guys! That was long, but I hope you got something out of it. Please share your own tips on diverse writing as well as forms of incidental diversity you experience in your own life! Next time, Darth Vader has some exciting writing tips for you.
Images via pulliammorris.com, ladailypost.com, YouTube, modernmormonmen.com, David Archuleta on Fanpop, and Buzzfeed.
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