Why I Write Diverse

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by Precarious Yates

I didn’t set out to write my books with a diverse cast of characters. After a while, I realized that this theme kept popping up with each book.

Diversity wasn’t some trend I picked up on. I grew up in the city, so I was immersed in lots of different cultures.

In elementary school, the majority from any race differed from class to class. This school was close to the graduate school of an Ivy League university, and the plethora of foreign students sent their children to this school. In my particular class one year, the majority of the kids were Chinese. The next year, there were more kids from India than from anywhere else. At one point, my best friend was Everet from Ethiopia. At another point, it was Kaia from Arizona.

The church where my dad was a pastor was attended by graduate students as well. At times, it was like a mini UN during the coffee hour. You could walk through and hear all kinds of languages. German. Mandarin. Afrikaans.

I was so used to this level of diversity that homogeny kind of freaked me out. The first time I attended a school where everyone in the class spoke English as a first language, or at least fluently, I was eleven.

I had no idea that most children didn’t have this kind of upbringing. Most kids my age, when Tianamin Square demonstrations and massacre occurred, who were 11/12 years, thought it strange that I was so upset by this. It hit me so hard because some friends from my last school had gone back to China. I felt personally connected.

For the rest of my life, I made it a point to connect with people of different ethnicities, so I could learn from them, and also because I found people I really enjoyed hanging out with. It gave me perspective about the world at large, the world outside of my bubble.

People who give writing advice often say, “Write what you know.” There’s a way in which we do this without consciously thinking about it. For me, diversity is what I knew. It surrounded me during the most formative years of my life.

Right now, there’s a major push in the publishing industry, both indie and traditional, to have diversity in books. I don’t think that’s something any writer can just do. This, more than anything else, is where “Write what you know” comes into play. You need to KNOW the voices, the culture, the reason behind a certain way of forming sentences. Simply watching movies or TV doesn’t give the real insight. You can’t glean this knowledge from a script.

If you don’t think you’re ready to write a culturally diverse novel but would like to, check out some others who have. I can recommend Parker J Cole, Angelia Vernon Menchan, Suprina Frazier, and Joanna Alonso.

Other than that, stretch out, reach beyond your comfort zone. One main piece of advice I give to writers is, “Write what you NEED to know.” That’s part of what drives me to write culturally diverse books even after I realized I was. Because I NEED to know.

Why do we need to know about cultural diversity?

Because heaven will be culturally diverse.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, – Revelation 7:9

Don’t fret about perfection. One thing I have learned in all my travels: there’s so much diversity even within a single culture!

May God’s blessing be upon you and you write!

Precarious Yates

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.


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