The Call for Ethnic Diversity
Why Tokenism is a Weak Concession
Ethnic Diversity in YA Books
5 Books with Strong Representations of Ethnic DiversityThankfully, I have come across at least some books with strong characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds:
- Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati — Set in Australia, this book is about a girl from an Orthodox Jewish family. She falls in love with ballet but her parents forbid her from dancing because it conflicts with their beliefs and culture.
- The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler — Despite warnings from her sisters to stay away from the Vargas boys, Jude is drawn to the youngest brother, Emilio. This book must’ve made me feel every emotion known to man. What I remember is the Argentinian culture of Emilio directing a lot of who he is as a character. He had fiery passion inherited from his mother and for that I absolutely wished he was my neighbour.
- Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata — Four half-sisters of various ethnic backgrounds grew up under the same roof. While they’re all daughters of the same mother, they each have different fathers. Due to an unfortunate event, the sisters are torn apart and forced to live with their respective fathers. The way their fathers relate to them is very telling of their cultural backgrounds.
- There Will Come A Time by Carrie Arcos — Mark lost his twin sister to a car accident and can’t come to terms with his loss. The reason I bring this book up is Mark’s Filipino heritage. While ethnicity isn’t a huge theme, Mark’s ethnicity does come up occasionally and is underscored by his Filipino relatives.
- Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe — This book was written with alternating first-person perspectives. One of the two characters, Ford, is a Mexican-American who is passionate about helping illegal immigrants. His ethnicity matters a lot in terms of his life choices. While Grace spends the summer pursuing her surfing dreams, Ford packs away his surf board to focus on an internship that could get him into law school.