I was recently inspired by a tag to create a book blog. When I first started seeing it on Twitter I kept wondering who is this “#OurVoice”, this “#OwnVoice”? And then it hit me…
Diverse representation is needed and I can, in my own small way, contribute to this: read all kinds of books, write about them, but also make a conscious effort to read books that include main characters like me. Bascially, do what I already love and then put it in a post.
Maybe I didn’t think too much of it before, but I gravitated toward that character who had dark hair rather than the one that had blonde tresses; the girl with the brown eyes and not the blue ones. I gravitated toward that girl who was smart but quiet in school rather than the all-American girl who played sports. Don’t get me wrong. A good book is still a good book, no matter what the main character looks like. I love reading. I devour books. But descriptive representation is important.
To be frank, it was only not too long ago that I had this epiphany about what characters I identified with when I was reading as a child and, often times, even now. I always searched for something, anything I had in common with characters in books. How could I love reading so much and yet there be no books that had people who looked like me? Who do you think I loved the best in The Babysitter’s Club? Claudia Kishi? Yup. Claudia. And Dawn because she was from California. Yup, I’m from California. There’s a reason (multiple actually) that after so many years, I still remember Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. There’s a reason why I recall In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. There’s this part I will never forget. Shirley Temple Wong is so excited to see a girl who looks like her that she goes and talks to her in Chinese, only to be told that she is American and doesn’t speak Chinese. That scene is imprinted in me! It reflects so much of my own childhood. (Also, don’t get me started on Just as Long as We’re Together and Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson. I was pretty sad because Alison, the Asian girl, didn’t get her own book.) And, if I’m being honest, I can’t remember what I ate yesterday but I remember the names of these books because they had characters that were representations of me.
This is my attempt to projecting my voice just a bit louder. And, this is also an attempt to connect with other people who enjoy reading as much as I do. (I love my friends but as one recently said to me, “I haven’t touched [a book] in I don’t know how long…” It really hurt the heart…the lungs too.)
I am Hmong. I am Asian. Most of all, I just love reading.