Episode Interactive: Diversity Standards Don't Always Work

Originally published at: https://shanniiwrites.com/2018/03/01/episode-interactive​-diversity-standards-dont-always-work/

As a writer in the 21st century, tackling diversity should be something we think about. The problem is, forcing diversity on writers can have some devastating effects.

https://shanniiwrites.com/2018/03/01/episode-interactive​-diversity-standards-dont-always-work/

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They don’t. I have personally seen authors who have been called out for lack of diversity (literally ALL characters are white, even background characters), so they just go in and add a black gay character to cover both LGBTQIA+ and racial diversity. Then, it seems the story goes from being completely white washed Cis-Het to all the sudden a KEY character is diverse.
Nice sentiment, but definitely forced.
Then comes the problem with it becoming stereotyped, as you mention in your article.
Masculine lesbians.
Feminine gay men.
Black people with “attitudes”.
Latino sex symbols.
The list goes on.
They don’t create characters, they have a preconceived image in their head of what that character should be and don’t bother to talk to actual people or research.
There was recently a big issue on IG where a popular author had a male black character with a “large package” that she posted a scene about. She said she created the character before his skin color, but could not understand the history behind why it was offensive.
So no, diversity standards don’t work, because people don’t understand others beyond the own scope of those they surround themselves with.

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Hey Annie! I don’t think I’ve seen you around before! Thank you so much for that amazing reply! :smiley:

Yeah my biggest problem with diversity standards is that it encourages what I call “shopping list diversity”. Have you ever seen someone ask if their cast looks good on the Episode Forums, only to have someone else say “maybe you should add a gay person” or something? Where the point of diversity doesn’t seem to be to have an authentic, realistic cast that reflects the world and helps to break down age-old barriers, but rather just to treat people like ingredients you can throw into a cast cake?

It frustrates me to no end! And it definitely encourages stereotyping!

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I haven’t seen anyone ask if their cast “looks good” but I have seen “how many X characters should I have?” like there should be a quota that is filled instead of characters with individual personalities.
I will say, it also doesn’t help with people saying X needs more diversity, because then the previously mentioned happens and characters become simply quotas needing filled.
I know it’s hard because Episode picks and chooses which stories to feature, but I just simply avoid authors who don’t add diversity (or stereotype) unless it is pointed out to them or they’re called out.

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I saw that one time on the forums… I think it was the ‘Share your diverse cast’ thread. Someone posted their cast, and another person said, “Maybe you should add a Muslim person.” Or I’ve seen reviewers say, “Your story isn’t diverse enough because it doesn’t have a (xyz) person in it”. But they have other types of diversity in there.

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Just, in general: if you could swap out a ‘diverse’ character for any other race/ethnicity/culture and it wouldn’t effect the story all that much, then there’s no point in making the character diverse for brownie points. Not that having 0 diverse people is a good thing, but you know what I’m saying.

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Exactly. This is where I feel the dilemma kicks in.

We are all entitled to write what we wish but on the other hand, we need to bear in mind of inclusivity and diversity.

This posses a challenge to many of us who would be more attuned to our respective kind and communities. As in unless in major cities or countries where there’s a good and healthy mix and exposure to a wide variety of people, there’ s limited for others even in this globalised world.

And when someone writes anything from their point of view or story (let’s say he’s always exposed to the White or Latino community for example), he or she will have a higher tendancy to write based on what he or she knows rather than venturing out because 1) given excuse but secretly lazy research to explore out of comfort zone and broaden horizons thus claiming they don’t know 2) simply don’t want to offend anyone but secretly also lazy research about it. 3)…4)… and other possible combinations in people. However, there are some people who I have met throughout my time on writing apps, who claimed they are uncomfortable to write about things they have no experienced in.

Overall, we cannot pleased everybody and really depends now on the willingness of the author. And it really is a struggle especially with all these stereotypes and the influence to write what sells well on Episode and other writing apps rather.

Doing things right vs doing the right things.

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