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!
Being a woman, and a sci-fi/fantasy fan from my early teens, I'm accustomed to the usual White male protagonists. Still, oh my goodness, wouldn't it have been nice to read a few books that featured a strong woman protagonist! Perhaps even someone with a similar ethnic or racial background (Welsh/Cherokee)? I would have devoured the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series back when I was a teen, just like I anxiously await the next books in those two series!
No Podkayne of Mars doesn't count. Heinlein really wasn't that great with female characters. I'm a fan, but seriously now!
While I'm a voracious reader, my kids are definitely reluctant readers. It certainly isn't because we don't have books to read in a huge variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. No, they just don't like to read. And they have expressed the opinion that most books are directed to the White male reader -- they just don't relate to that life experience. Thus, this website evolved from my search for books that I'd like and that my kids might find characters that they could relate too.
I know I'll say this over and over again, but this isn't about excluding anyone on the basis of anything. It's about including my Teens of Color in the fantastic future that I totally believe in...