Please welcome fellow Red Adept Publishing author, Brenda Vicars. In honor of Brenda's new book, Polarity in Motion, she tackles a hot topic on my blog today.
My friend Ann and I met for coffee the day I received the proof copy of POLARITY IN MOTION. Naturally, I had the book in my purse, and before our lattes hit the table, I proudly whipped out my first published novel.
“Oh,” Ann said with a surprised expression as she took in the cover. “The boy and girl are uh…interracial?” She made this statement sound like a question, and she flipped the book over to read the back cover. I stayed silent, sipped, and gave her time to read the blurb, which, by the way, says nothing about race.
After she finished reading, she seemed off balance, as if unsure how to ask her unspoken question: Why an interracial couple? The next half hour we probed the reason that question is asked, and why it’s hard to answer.
We talked about our own children and how the stories they love are full of characters who, like our kids, are white. It’s easy to keep our adolescents supplied with a rich flow of books—coming of age, mystery, romance, and science fiction. But when I was a public high school English teacher, I found myself entrusted with classrooms full of diverse students. And when I took my classes to the library, most of the choices on the shelves were about white young adults. How were my students to feel connected to literature when their race was virtually omitted from novels? And what message did the omission send?
So why did I include an interracial couple in Polarity in Motion? Because lots of students come from mixed race families, and lots of teens are or will be in interracial relationships. Thankfully, young adult literature is expanding, and diversity is more frequently represented. But we still have a long way to go.
“You know,” Ann said as we left the coffee shop. “If the two hands on the cover had both been white, I wouldn’t have said, ‘The boy and girl are uh…both white?’”
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