In the last few weeks there has been a great kerfuffle on the internet about sexism and diversity in YA books. I don’t have anything to add to the conversation, nor do I have any interest in reviving it. The “discourse” got contentious and accusatory and ugly and I am not sure what was accomplished. In the end, many were invoking the way things are or how they should be in the “YA Community.”
I read a lot of the back and forth. I’m not sure what the outcome of the outrage or the vitriol is or will be. I do know that it didn’t ever feel like a discussion, but a shouting match, as is often the case on the internet. I also have no idea what anyone meant by the “YA Community.” I don’t know who is a member of this “YA Community,” but I do know that there is one thing missing from the conversation and from this “YA Community.”
I didn’t see any actual Young Adults speaking or even invited to the conversation. All I saw or heard were adults in blogging, publishing, and authors themselves telling each other what is wrong with the “YA Community.” Another group of adults telling teenagers what they need and what they like and how they are.
So, while this “YA Community” of adults is busy demonizing each other and launching accusations about what someone’s motives might be and how diversity isn’t being fully embraced, think about this.
Your ageism is showing.
Teenagers are people. They’re just young. They read, think and make their own decisions. If we can’t model an actual discussion, this “YA Community” isn’t good for much. If the teens aren’t a part of the conversation and instead are talked about as if they have nothing to contribute, then we’re just as guilty of discriminating as anybody out there pushing “boy books” or “girl books” or not promoting publishing and writing by people of color or about people of color. If I want to know what the “YA Community” thinks or feels about the diverse books written, published and marketed to them, I ask my students, kids and kids’ friends. They are the Young Adult Community and they should be consulted and heard.
That’s why I started this blog. My hope is that all voices, especially teen voices will find a place here and that real dicussions will take place. There are plenty of places where teens are condescended to or told what’s good for them. This isn’t one of them.
We are the Hippodilly Circus and we speak to the teens.