I know, I know, it really shouldn't matter -- except that nearly all protagonists fit the mold of John Carter of Mars. White Anglo-Saxon Protestant males prevail in nearly all fiction. In teen fiction, especially fantasy, there's a whole lotta red-headed girls and handsome young (White) boys. Now, yes, a lot of the fantasy is based on Celtic legend, but you know, there's more to the world than Ireland. No cap on Ireland, I enjoy a good epic or urban fantasy as well as the next fan. But there's a whole world out there, why does darn near every story have to focus on one little island?
And then there's the ongoing idiocy in our world. Color doesn't matter? REALLY? Then why is there all this drama about darling little Gabby Douglas, Olympic gold medal winner, and her hair. Her hair? Are you kidding me? This brilliant young gymnast, with a smile that catches you and makes you smile too, the first African American to take the gold in gymnastics, and people are worried about her HAIR? Hello, she's BLACK! Her hair has a different texture, it's been relaxed and it's not going to be the same as some little blonde's fine, wispy do. It's just not. Get real!
Look, if people are having drama about an outstanding Olympic athlete's hair, then we still have a problem. And yes, I'm sad to say that some who've been most critical are Black.
Science fiction and fantasy can look past all the drama of today, bringing our kids exciting stories with good role models -- heroes and heroines that break today's cast-in-stupidity molds and sweep the reader into a future where diversity (and hair) is accepted as normal and natural.
That's just one reason why it's so important to have protagonists of Color. Not the wingman, not the sidekick, not the secondary characters -- I'm talking about the main characters. I want my kid to enjoy rip-roaring sci-fi novels, envisioning himself as that young Black/Mexican/Welsh/Italian/Native American hero that's busting those bad guys' behinds and saving the Universe!
Honestly, sometimes it's very arbritrary. Other times, I spend a significant amount of time looking up information.
For example, the Roma or Romani, also known as gypsies. The Roma live all over the world, with significant populations in Asia, Europe and the Americas. From what I understand, however, the Roma were originally from the Indian subcontinent. Generally, peoples from that area are considered either Asian or East Indian. Therefore, I placed the Rob Thurman books featuring Roma protagonists onto the Asian & Pacific Islander page. And by the way, in many places, "gypsy" is not a nice name, although here in the States many Roma have accepted and use the word -- but not all. So there's always a fine line to tread when addressing someone's race/ethnicity/nationality.
As another example, how do you place a mixed race protagonist? Well, that depends. In the United States, while a person may be of mixed race, if they're part Black, they're considered Black. If they're part Native American, especially if they're a registered member of the tribe, all the rest doesn't matter, they're Native American.
And why did I place Jewish, Arabic and Middle Eastern peoples all into a Middle Eastern page? Well, the Middle East is a region. However, the Jewish peoples that I personally know, no matter what their race, ethnicity, national origins or religious beliefs all relate themselves to Israel in one way or another. As I didn't want to put Jewish fantasy or sci-fi on the Everybody Else page, I made a command decision and put them onto the Middle Eastern page.
People take great pride in their heritage and race/ethnicity, so I just do the best that I can. What a person looks like, plus how he/she self-identifies is an important part of our culture, for both a Person of Color and the surrounding society. Naturally, everyone is free to disagree with me and if you have a great argument why I'm wrong, well, let me know. Maybe I am and I need to move those books to a different page!
By noon today, I had over 800 views of the website. That's JUST for today!
I'm delighted by the positive responses I've received and the increasing number of views. Considering that I just went live on April 8th, the website is doing very well.
When I went looking for books for my son, I realized how badly we as parents, caregivers, teachers, educators and/or homeschoolers need a central location for Teens and Adults of Color to find good reading materials featuring protagonists of Color.
My little niche is Science Fiction and Fantasy, but if you're reading this and saying "Hey!" there's plenty of room over in Mysteries, Westerns, Suspense, Horror and so on.
In fact, if you decide to start a similar website in another genre and want to be a "sister site," I'm all good with that, I'll be happy to add your information under Resources, referring those who are looking for other genres to go and check your website out.
In any case, the views are going up and that's pretty darn awesome!
Well, here we are, voracious readers, reluctant readers, parents, caregivers, teachers, homeschoolers -- whatever your connection is to a teen or young adult, the reviews and links are meant to help you locate age-appropriate, well-written, exciting Sci-Fi and Fantasy tales.
Now, I understand that some may feel that this website is excluding White protagonists, however, nothing could be further from the truth! The purpose here is not to exclude, but to INCLUDE. I want to include People of Color in our diverse universe of Sci-Fi and Fantasy!
I want to include POC writers, characters, cultures, alternate universes and the evolution of humanity. I want to include aliens and humanoids and moreau. I want to take my teens and young adults beyond the day-to-day grind of our earth-bound existence.
In no way could I ever exclude the finest Sci-Fi and Fantasy ever written! But I want to bring in more great stories that my children can relate to as Teens of Color as well as members of the human race.
So, having went live and still organizing this work in progress -- let the journey begin!