This question pops up with high frequency, and is almost exclusively finished with some combination of the following words: straight, white, people and men. Somehow, our focus on diversity in fiction is often perceived as harmful and discriminatory. Harmful towards the freedom of speech; discriminatory to those whose stories we do not aim to publish.
When I grew up, I recognised myself in every book I read. I read about families like mine (mum and dad, brother, sister) who looked like me (white, blue eyes, two arms, two legs), who celebrated the holidays I celebrated (Christmas, Easter, summer vacation), and did the things I liked to do. My family is a book-loving one, and by the time I was 12, I knew I could become just about everything, do just about everything, and that I was normal and fine and interesting. I only had to find myself a prince, and life would be grand. None of my childhood books prepared me for the idea that I might fall in love with a princess.
If I have children, they will very rarely see families like their own (two mommies) in their books. And if they are born with a disability, or lose a limb, or struggle with mental health, or are of colour, most of the heroes they will find in their books, and in the wider media they consume, will not look like them.
Ink & Locket Press seeks to publish against the traditional publishing bias. The traditional bias leans towards publishing and highlighting stories by and about men (especially white men), straight people doing ‘straight things’ and white people doing ‘white things’. We are not seeking to eliminate or change these stories. A large portion of the market wants these stories and should have easy access to them.
But we’re working towards everyone having easy access to stories they can identify with, and towards every voice with a story getting the opportunity to be heard. We are not here to discriminate against male authors. Male authors who are queer, who are of colour, who are trans or who have a disability—you are all welcome to submit to us. Likewise, we do not discriminate against straight authors, nor white authors: we just want stories that focus on other things.When it comes down to it, though, we are not even discriminating against straight, white men who write stories about straight, white men. We are just not actively striving to tell those stories. Those stories are already being told, have been told for hundreds of years, will be told for hundreds to come, and every big publishing house in the world will consider those submissions with a favourable bias. And we will gladly read them, and support the authors, and participate in good literary debates about their works and legacy. Those stories and authors are simply not our focus.
We want every child to grow up knowing they can become just about anything, do just about anything, and that they are good, and fine, and interesting.
Where is the harm in that?
Amelia, managing director
5 thoughts on “But aren’t you discriminating against…?”
Thank you so much!
Personally I’m enjoying seeing more diversity in everything across the board, from books, tv shows, and even musicals. We just saw Hamilton and it was amazing to see the runaway success of the show that turns conventions upside down in such a unique way. One of my all time favorite book couples is Idgie and Ruth from Fried Green Tomatoes. Their relationship was so toned down for the movie that if you hadn’t read the book, you’d have missed that they were a couple. I’d like to think if that movie were made today it would have better represented their relationship from the book. Thanks for the great post.
Thank you for your comment! Amelia (our managing director) is always hoping for a new film-version of Fried Green Tomatoes!