It’s National Book-Lovers Day apparently and what does that mean for people in the United States? Well, really nothing but I guess it means something to book-lovers. I, myself, am a book-lover. I’ve always have been ever since I started reading when I was four years old. It’s amazing how many books I’ve read throughout the years, and even amazing to see how the book industry has changed/stayed the same.
I love reading books, always have. I’m actually starting Harry Potter for the first time *gasp* because I’m an adult now and I can choose what I want to read. But let me tell you, reading Harry Potter for the first time at 22 is one of the best things that has happened to me in a very long time. I won’t go into the details but, these past couple of years have been very hard on me and greatly affected my writing and my ability to imagine. Harry Potter gave that back to me and I have never been so happy and full of life.
(Side note: I’ve never seen the movies so I am going into this pretty blind. I’m so glad I didn’t watch them.)
Throughout my years I’ve read countless of books from Eragon to The Bluest Eye. As a child my favorites have always been of the science fiction and fantasy variety and boy did I didn’t regret it. But even though science fiction and fantasy had a GREAT impact on me in terms of writing, it also had an impact on me on something I wasn’t aware of until I was in my late teens/early twenties.
As an African American child growing up loving fantasy and science fiction, everything around me was constantly surrounded by white faces. Then I didn’t quite get what was going on because I didn’t really care. But one day, like someone threw a ball through my window, my view was shattered. Why don’t I see more people with brown skin? I wondered why I didn’t see more black faces in fantasy, and so I began to lament. I didn’t think they were able to exist in fantasy and that was just how things were. Sometimes I felt afraid to like fantasy because I didn’t feel like I could be part of that community; I felt like I was…trespassing. To this day I feel left out. At one point I became so tired of reading about sixteen year old white girls and their adventures to the point that I just stopped reading YA. I wanted something new and an adventure that I could see myself in.
So that became the reason why I wanted to write. One of my favorite quotes by Toni Morrison is, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”
That’s what I’m set out to do.
I’ve mentioned representation before in another post, but this issue stands to close to my young, twelve year old heart than I can bear. Young people of color can relate to dragons, wizards, and secret wardrobes. They are interested in commanding starships and saving galaxies. They too can be the chosen one to bring balance to the Force, but we just have to make it happen. It should be normal.
Like any other type of change it’s going to take time. But change isn’t going to happen on it’s own. Action and time coincide.
With that, happy reading/writing!