Tag Archives: racism

Diversity Drama on Booktube

Booktube is a pretty fun, very inclusive, and welcoming community on YouTube. There usually isn’t any animosity between anyone. But there are times, just like in a small town, that some issue pops up that everyone gets involved in.

The most recent drama that’s occurred started when someone criticised author V. E. Schwab on Twitter because of the lack of diversity in her fantasy novels. She responded by saying sorry, that she’ll do better. I don’t know why she should be sorry. Authors aren’t forced to have racial, gender, or sexual diversity in their books.

But what about booktube? Well, a booktuber went on a rant that made her look like she was completely against diversity, but I don’t think that was what she meant. The general idea of her video was to defend V. E. Schwab. But she had poor focus, and her message came across completely wrong. Indie Insomniac has a good response to her video about this.

So, what do I think about this whole thing? Drama is something I try to stay out of. What I want to say in this blog post is my view on diversity in books.

I welcome diversity. It’s important. I live in a very diverse neighbourhood, so if I were to write a novel about my neighbourhood, it would have a very diverse cast of characters. However, if I were to write a novel that took place in rural Saskatchewan, the characters would most likely be all white. If I were to write a novel that took place in a small village in Japan, it’s almost guaranteed that all characters would be Japanese. In V. E. Schwab’s case, she writes fantasy. I haven’t read any of her books, so I don’t know what the setting is, but if I were to write fantasy, racial diversity in Earth terms wouldn’t even be on my mind.

If I’m writing a fantasy novel that takes place on a continent somewhere that has people with pale skin and blond hair, am I obligated to include African or Asian people? Why? It doesn’t take place on Earth. The people of this location happen to be blond.

This reminds me of when people were complaining about Disney princesses always being white. Why is Rapunzel white? She’s German, that’s why. Why are all the characters in Brave white? It takes place in Scotland at a time when everyone who lived there was white. You can’t demand diversity when it would be historically inaccurate or highly illogical.

I’m all for diversity in novels, but only if it’s appropriate. I celebrate diversity. My own work in progress has a very diverse cast of characters. That’s because it’s how life is in the future. Should I be required to include characters from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, different sexual orientations, as well as transgendered people? No. Absolutely not. But I do it because that’s what society is like in my writing.

An author shouldn’t be bullied about the kinds of people in their books. They shouldn’t be forced to include certain groups of people in their next book because some people complained. Authors should write the stories they want to read. If it’s good, then others would want to read it, too. Ideally, authors should ignore this, and just write.

In the end, this is what I think: I will not include an African in a book that’s set in Edo period Japan, because they weren’t there. I will not include a blond, blue-eyed Caucasian in a story about 12th century Pacific Islanders, because they weren’t there. I will not include an Asian elf, because elves aren’t human. I will not include a group of Australian Aborigines in an epic Scandinavian historic adventure novel, because they most definitely wouldn’t be there. As for sexual orientation, since gay people have always existed, I could arguably expect them to appear in a good number of novels from any time period or location. Also, gender is an issue. If it’s a period piece, then gender roles would likely be expected. I don’t expect a female knight in a book that takes place in 15th century England. I would expect a female soldier in a book that takes place in the 21st century, though. I could go on.

Don’t include diversity if people say you should, include diversity if it fits the story. That is all.

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#BlackLivesMatter and Booktube

In the Booktube community on YouTube, there was a question asked by a Booktuber, LuLo Fangirl, about why Booktubers don’t talk about #BlackLivesMatter. Why is everyone silent about it? They talk about drama that goes on in the community, but don’t talk about this big issue. I decided to respond, though I don’t think I could eloquently explain what I really wanted to say. But this is what I said.

I linked the situation with books. I think that books bring up issues like this, and it’s worth reading them. What I wanted to say but didn’t want to take up so much time is that I thought education, or rather a lack of good education, was a root cause of this problem. There are so many areas in the US where black people are marginalised, and some education could help. I mean educating everyone.

What do you think about this topic? Let me know in the comments below.

Am I Privileged?

Having lived in two countries, I can definitely tell you that my level of “privilege” is different in each country. Here in Canada, I’m part of the majority. I’m white. I’m what people would consider privileged, a white male in a rich country, married, have a kid, and a university degree. I haven’t been discriminated against in Canada.

In Japan, I have been discriminated against. A couple times, actually. I was in the minority there, so I know what it feels like to be treated differently because of my race. I was sometimes a novelty to some people.

What’s interesting is that foreigners aren’t treated differently in Canada, because people are used to them, and there are so many. Canada is an immigrant country. In Japan, there are many people who have seen tourists, but rarely interact with them, especially in the countryside. I’ve been talked about by children who stare and are surprised that there’s a foreigner near them. But of course, I did get an advantage that many Japanese people didn’t. I was treated better in some cases by the companies I worked for, because I was the product.

I took a Buzzfeed test about privilege. I find Buzzfeed mostly stupid, but I took it anyway. My privilege score was 56 out of 100. How about you?

This Makes Me Angry

I apologise in advance for any profanity I may use in this post. I feel it is justified to show the degree of anger in relation to these acts and events.

Beaten Pomeranian found with note. This makes me angry. Kill a dog, then boast about it? Whoever did this is not only an asshole, but also more likely to  murder a person. Anyone who tortures and kills animals for fun needs to be sent to a remote island without any hope of escape.

Cecil killer just saw a ‘nice lion’, says Jacob Zuma. South Africa’s president laughing off trophy hunting, huh? Well, trophy hunters are the scum of hunters. They do this for nothing but their own insignificant egos that no one cares about. They can join the animal torturers on that island.

No link for this one, just a comment about many of the Republican candidates for President of the United States. You’re idiots. Really. Let’s see, climate change denial is the biggest beef I have with you. Why would I, a non-American, be concerned about this? Well, the US is the world’s biggest industrial powerhouse, and if they have a government that doesn’t care about the environment, it affects the rest of the world. Not only are they screwing up their lives, but they’re fucking up the lives of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on. They don’t care about their own descendants! They’re just telling their grandchildren, “Money now is more important, so I don’t give a shit about your life. You can die of starvation, during wars over water, or whatever. I don’t care.”

There are so many other things. I want to say this to the people mentioned above and others, including animal torturers, trophy hunters, climate change-deniers, anti-vaxxers, anti-science nutjobs, racists, sexists, homophobes, and all others who abuse people, animals, and the environment for their own personal gain or entertainment: Fuck you.

Are you one of those above? You’re not worth my time.

My Daughter Is Mixed Race. What If…

My wife is Japanese, and our daughter is half Japanese, half Caucasian. In Japan, old ladies look at her and say she looks like a doll and is very cute. Many people tell me that my daughter must be cute because she is mixed race.  That’s the image of mixed race (or haafu/half) children in Japan.

We’re moving to Canada next year, and mixed race children are much more common and far more accepted in society.  They don’t stand out like they do in Japan. However, I have heard stories about fathers of mixed race kids who have had difficulties with apparent good samaritans and the police.

For example, I saw a post on a forum about a man whose wife was Asian, and their kid was mixed. His daughter looked more Asian than Caucasian. He was having lunch with her in a shopping mall food court while waiting for his wife, who was shopping. A security guard approached him and said that someone reported him to security and that the police were on their way. A woman said that he was a kidnapper. The police arrived, and started interrogating the man while his daughter was absolutely terrified. His wife soon came, and once they noticed that she was Asian, the police backed off.  But the damage had been done, and the husband and wife were absolutely furious with the police and the woman who had called security on them.  After that, the man decided to take along his daughter’s ID, her birth certificate, whenever they were out together without his wife.

The same thing happened to a Caucasian man who’s married to an African-American woman.  You can see the video here.

My daughter has brown hair, so I doubt I’d be in any of these situations. But it had me thinking, what would I do if I were in this situation? How about you? What would you do?

So Far from Canada, Yet Feel So Close

With everything that happened in the last few hours in Ottawa, I have never felt so close to Canada while being half a world away.  It’s strange.  I’ve been in Japan for nearly ten years, and for much of it, I felt a disconnect from my home country.  I’ve been living in Japan, I see what happens in Japan, and I feel a stronger connection to events in Japan.  However, this attack on Cpl. Nathan Cirillo by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau has brought my thoughts firmly back to Canada.

This has me angry.  The response I’ve seen from various people also makes me angry, as I feel a lot of it is misguided and potentially dangerous.  Some sources are connecting the shooter to ISIS and Canada’s announced involvement in the fight against them.  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has even linked this incident to terrorism.  Zehaf-Bibeau has a criminal record related to robbery and drugs, and has had his passport revoked because he is a travel risk.  However, the terrorism link is not confirmed, and people should not start pointing fingers until we know what the motives were.

What I’m angry about seeing is that many people are condemning Muslims in general. I know some Muslims, and they’re all wonderful people who would never think of doing anything like this.  In fact, they would condemn this act.  So before people start attacking innocent Muslims over this incident, remember that most of them are as dumbfounded and upset about it as you are.  They are not the enemy.  Reactionary attitudes like this are extremely harmful.  That is all I’m going to say about this.

And to those of you trying to politicise this whole incident and make it a Conservative versus Liberal thing, shut up.  A man died.  All sides of the government are in agreement in this situation.

One thing I love about Canada is the tolerance people have for other cultures.  Please don’t let this incident turn into an excuse to exercise intolerance.

Banned Books Week – No Censorship for Me

This week is Banned Books Week.  It’s the week when you can support the freedom to read anything you like by reading books that have often been challenged for various reasons by parents, religious groups, and so on. They want to ban these books from bookstores, public libraries, and schools.  I’ve read quite a few banned books, considering that the entire fantasy genre is quite blasphemous according to many religious groups.  The book I’m reading now has most definitely been challenged for many reasons, including violence, adult themes (nudity, sex), religious reasons (polytheistic religions, magic, something that could be considered Satanic), and offensive language.  George R. R. Martin sure can piss off many people.

So, for this post, I’m not censoring myself at all.  Expect some language, but nothing sexual.  And I’ll be very blunt about what I think about the people who want to ban these books.

Let’s look at the reasons why people want to ban books.

Sexually explicit. This is pretty obvious.  I can understand it not being allowed in schools, considering it’s not age appropriate.  Little kids can be spared this kind of thing.  But libraries and bookstores?  No damn way.  To be honest, I’ve known quite a bit about sex since I was pretty young.  You can thank the Encyclopedia!  Ooh, let’s ban the Encyclopedia now.  Go into a school library and find an Encyclopedia.  I bet it has entries on sex, reproductive organs, and so on.  Oh, and for those prude people, sex isn’t offensive.  It’s natural.  It’s a fact of life.  I won’t shield my kids from what sex is.  I’ll be honest if they ask, and I won’t try to hide the truth.

Offensive language. Fuck that shit, you assholes.  There are classic books with swear words, you know.  They’re read in school. I’ve read books with swearing in school.  No one cared.  Really.  We didn’t giggle.  You know why?  Kids learn swear words from an early age.  They hear it from their parents, they hear it outside, they hear it from friends, TV, movies.  It’s everywhere.  They understand what it means, they understand they’re not good words to use in polite company.  Honestly, I don’t care.  What’s important is that parents try limit their swearing around their kids.  Parents are the most important role models, and kids will emulate their parents.

Violence. This is very common for action oriented books.  But I’d say violence in TV and movies is more influential because kids can see it.  In books, it can be described explicitly, but it’s often difficult to imagine it clearly.  Anyway, just as in TV, movies, and video games, this must be made clear to kids that the violence isn’t real and should not be reproduced.  Again, it’s parental responsibility.

Unsuited for age group. Yes, I can see this one easily.  An elementary school kid won’t read Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s up to the school to put age appropriate books in the school library.  But in a public library and bookstore, it’s the parents’ responsibility to keep their kids away from more adult books.  It also depends on the maturity of the kid.  I was pretty mature for my age, so a lot of more adult books, TV shows, and movies didn’t affect me as much as many of my peers.

Nudity. I’m pretty liberal-minded, open, and a free-thinker.  Nudity shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s religious groups and the media that sexualise nudity.  Nudity isn’t sexual.  Nudity is the default for the human body.  Animals are naked.  They aren’t aroused because they see other naked animals.  A lot of tribes in the Amazon or in Africa have no problems with nudity.  Naturist groups don’t view nudity as sexual.  That’s because it isn’t sexual.  Nudity doesn’t corrupt youth.  I think if kids could see just how the human body is more often, there’d be fewer problems with rape, body image, and self-esteem.

Drugs/alcohol/smoking. I’m against drugs and smoking, but they’re a reality.  Alcohol is fine in moderation. There are some ways to show how they can be bad in literature by showing the effects.  Isn’t that a positive way to use them?  But I think that books aren’t likely to influence people to takes drugs or start smoking.  It’s far more likely that other people will influence.  Books aren’t the problem here, it’s the people.

Racism. I’d like to mention one book here that I read in school, To Kill a Mockingbird. This was a book about racism.  Let’s ban this one?  I don’t think so.  It was against racism.  It was also required reading in school.  I wasn’t very impressed with it back then, but that’s because we had to read it.  If I’d chosen to read it, I think I’d have enjoyed it more. Anyway, since racism is still a big issue, it’s important to bring up the subject.  Books are a great way to show the negative effects of racism.

Homosexuality. Another hot topic.  This is mostly a problem to religious groups.  And I have this to say: get over it.  Homosexuality has been around for as long as humans have.  It exists in wild animals.  It is natural.  Yes, natural.  It’s not a choice, it’s not a decision.  I’m happy to see homosexuality in books.  It needs to be represented.  And shielding your children from it will do more harm than good.  They’ll become prejudiced against it.  Again, parents need to be responsible here.

Religious viewpoint. One religious group tries to ban books from libraries and bookstores because it offends them.  What about the other groups who aren’t offended?  Aren’t you imposing your beliefs on others?  I won’t tolerate that.  You keep your religion out of other people’s freedom to read books.  You don’t want your kids to read a book?  Then it’s your responsibility.  I don’t care what your religion is.  No religious group has a right to prevent others from reading books.  Go away.

And there you have it.  You may agree or disagree with me, but if you are one of the people who wants books banned, then you are part of the problem.  Don’t be a problem for others.  Respect other people’s right to read what they want.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.