This week's Diversity Roll call can be found at Color Online. Susan has come up with a bunch of options looking at young adult lit:
Provide a list of YA writers of color that you think deserve more exposure -or- Showcase cover art that does not reveal the race/ethnicity of the characters -or- Spotlight sub-genre YA fiction with teens of color i.e. graphic novels, romance, mystery, fantasy and science fiction -or- Briefly discuss YA novels with teens of color but race is not a dominant factor in the story -or- If you don't read YA fiction, do a little research and report back on a YA novel/comic you intend to read in the future.
I'm going to talk about two covers, I'm not sure whether they make the racial/ethnic background clear or not. I think it's up for debate.
First, Flygirl. I reviewed Flygirl a couple of weeks ago, it's one of my favorite YA novels of the past year. The cover reflects the plot beautifully, in that the model's racial identity is ambiguous. Without prior knowledge of the storyline, would you see an African American girl on the cover, or just a girl who's a pilot?
Even knowing the storyline--in which the melding of these three aspects of Ida Mae Jones's identity are key to the plot--I saw a pilot first, a girl second, and a person who might be black, third. What if the model's skin were a darker tone? I'm guessing that I'd see dark skin first, pilot second, and girl third. The big question is, why? That's a question I can't answer for myself today, but I'm working on it.
The next cover is my current read: Mitali Perkin's The Secret Keeper. I picked up this book knowing it was written by an author of East Indian descent who focuses on cultural issues, so I was predisposed to think of the main character as Indian. The graphics on the top and bottom of the cover reinforced that expectation, but I think the photograph is ambiguous. I think I'd just see a girl, beautiful and shy. Which, interestingly, doesn't really reflect the main character of the book, who is supposed to be not traditionally beautiful, tomboyish, and feisty. This picture looks more like how I picture her sister--the more traditional, beautiful, and obedient of the two girls, who also happens to have lighter skin (and skin tone is definitely an issue in this family's culture). What about you, if you didn't have expectations, would you see an Indian girl, or just a girl?
Oh, I almost forgot: by addressing one of these questions on your blog and adding your link at the original post on Color Online, you'll be automatically entered to win one of these sets of five multicultural books! Don't have a blog? Email me your response and we'll figure out a way to include you.