Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Discussion: TV and Diversity

**This is a rather person discussion story**
Yesterday, I sat with my little brother who was watching Disney Channel because I just wanted to do nothing for a while. He was watching Jessie and I'm pretty sure it was because of that fact that there is an Indian boy, Ravi, on the show.

This particular episode was about Ravi's first day of school at an American school. So there we are, watching all the randomness of the kids when all of a sudden, the volume turns off...I have no idea what's going on so I look over to my brother and I saw that he had muted it.

"Why did you mute it?" I asked him.

He shrugged, not meeting my eyes, looking uncomfortable. "I just don't want to see it. I don't like it."

It took me a while to realize that it was the time where Ravi's brother, Luke, was yelling at him, telling him they weren't brothers and all. I realized that my brother felt bad for Ravi. He didn't like hearing Ravi be yelled at and it made me wonder if my brother had ever been bullied at school? I was bulled a lot during elementary school and middle school because I didn't look like all the kids and I was smart (my nick name quickly became "teacher's pet") and to say that I didn't like it was an understatement.

It made me stronger in the long run, but during those days of school? I hated school. I dreaded going to class because I didn't want people to make fun if me. Yeah, I had friends and all, but I still did not want to go to school. And then I began thinking about how the only thing that really made school better for me was books, especially books with culturally different characters.

It still bugs me that my brother had to mute the TV so he didn't have to hear a kid he identified with get bullied. This is Disney Channel for crying out loud! Then I realized that while Disney Channel has changed drastically and they do have diversity, there is a long way to get for things to really change.

I still think Disney Channel is awesome (I still think the 90s were better. You know, Kim Possible, Even Stevens, etc.) but sometimes I just don't understand it or like it even. It makes me sad and angry that my eleven year old brother has to mute the volume just so he didn't have to hear it all.
This got me to think about diversity in YA books. Yes, I realize that it's a little far fetched, but this incident stuck with me for a while and as I thought about it, books came to mind. When I was his age, books were my form of solace. Writing was my way of getting my anger and frustration on the world out. I don't think there is enough diversity and while this is changing, it's changing slowly but there's honestly not a lot of diversity. I've seen a lot of Hispanic characters and while I have no issues with that, I want more Asian MC to come into the spot light. I can think of Cindy Pon's books that are culturally diverse but in the long run, there is a long way to go.

I want to know what you think. Do you think there is enough diversity? Do you want to see more diversity, not only in books but in other media formats too?

1 comment:

  1. What was the context of the TV show? Was it a show where that kind of situation was remedied and the person yelling eventually saw the harm they were causing? It just doesn't seem too Disney to openly berate a POC character as a means of entertainment. I haven't watched Disney since the 80s/early 90s and when I watch the shows now they just see obnoxious so I rightly have no idea.

    But for books of course there should be more POC characters and more books whose MCs are POC. The world is a mixed bag. So should reading be. It's basically boiling down to what publishers think readers want and they're assuming POC won't sell without actually testing the water. Not really. If the option isn't even there then the choice can't be made, thus skewing the outcome of statistics like that. Make more of them available and see what happens. I'm sure they'll be read just as eagerly as everything else already out there.