You may have seen the stats that tell us there's an overwhelming majority of YA stories and covers, featuring white females. Kate's recent POST breaking down the percentages, is especially surprising (and then she got all famous for her charts, here).
And yeah, there's more to this equation--like publishing, gatekeepers, the reading public, and subjectivity--but I'm just focusing on the writing end.
I've written my share of middle class white stories. Because it's what I know. And when you're first learning how to write, you need a cushion of comfort through which to practice the mechanics.
But I have many more stories in me. And so do you.
I love writing from the male point of view. It didn't come easy at first, but now, smoother sailing. My newest YA features a gay male teen. And another that I'm outlining features a black male teen. But that's writing what I know, too. I have gay friends and family members. I was a social worker and special education teacher for fifteen years, working with kids and families from many different cultures.
So, I KNOW. And you know, too. You have experiences you can draw on. To make the YA experience more diverse. So teens of all backgrounds can find themselves in our books.
And even if you don't know, there are basic human needs that we all share. Belonging, fear, love, respect, vulnerability. Research like heck and ask questions. If the worry is that you can't pull off the voice or the story, there are plenty of betas and CP's to check us. And I bet you'd surprise yourself.
So, if you've been tinkering with one diverse idea or another, I encourage you to leave your comfort zone, too. Even if it's a side character or a super secret practice book. Do it. You'll feel richer for it.
Let's change the tide. Let's create a tidal wave of diversity.