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The list, other books, movies > Talking about Diversity

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 05, 2018 01:05PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
PBS has a clip on its site about why it is so important for kids and teens to see themselves in the books they read. We all like to read about characters that we can relate to, and this is doubly important when we are different from the people around them.

So as we discussed on another post there are many books on the GAR list that enable us to hear other voices, including black, hispanic, gay, and immigrant voices.

I came across this clip today (in honor of James Baldwin's birthday. (Author of Another Country)

"#JamesBaldwin's response to a Yale professor asking “So why must we always concentrate on color?” is still the most fire answer in answer history. Happy Birthday!"

https://twitter.com/hinadirah/status/...


message 2: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new)

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Representation in popular culture and media is so important. I'm glad this is an issue that has gained support the last few years.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments A friend of mine explained to me that the reason she loved Star Trek so much, and loved Sesame Street as a child, was that all colors were represented on those shows, including green and purple! :D


message 4: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new)

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
And women!!!! Star Trek is one of my favorites.


message 5: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 05, 2018 01:34PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I'm kind of sorry I didn't watch Star Trek when I was younger. I probably would have like it.

I remember people picketed the TV studios to get them to show black actors in a wider range of roles -not just hookers and gang members. I have a friend whose aunt was one of the first black women to get a role as a Judge (on LA Law or Law and Order). There were suddenly black cops, doctors, fire fighters and executives on TV. Every once in a while you'd see a female construction worker and a male nurse on TV too.

It apparently helped increase the number of black applicants to law schools.

The biggest change though came with the OJ Simpson trial, with prominent black and female attorneys.

Now all these roles are diverse. On TV and in real life.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "I'm kind of sorry I didn't watch Star Trek when I was younger. I probably would have like it.

I remember people picketed the TV studios to get them to show black actors in a wider range of roles -..."


I tried to watch it, but it was on Sundays at either 11pm or midnight, and I was still pretty young to try and stay up. I did manage a few episodes, just never got crazy about it. SStreet was after my time--we only had Davy and Goliath on Sundays, lol, and Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry on Saturdays.


message 7: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (last edited Aug 05, 2018 06:31PM) (new)

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "I'm kind of sorry I didn't watch Star Trek when I was younger. I probably would have like it.

I remember people picketed the TV studios to get them to show black actors in a wider r..."


Nichelle Nichols ( Lt. Uhura, TOS) talks about how Dr. King talked her out of quitting after then 1st season.

The show also got a lot of backlash for showing a kiss between her character and Kirk which never would have happened if she quit!


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "I'm kind of sorry I didn't watch Star Trek when I was younger. I probably would have like it.

I remember people picketed the TV studios to get..."


And still gets a bit of backlash today, because it wasn't a regular event on the show, but a one-off. Baby steps, I guess....


message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I think tv and movies are better off than books. I think the majority of authors write main characters who look like themselves. This even comes down to things like weight, hair color, eye color. Fantasy tends to the worst from my experience, in having diversity. I guess it's because fantasy is unfailing based on feudal England.

From a media standpoint, I'm amazed by how we never bring up how few Asians are in any American media. It's very rare to see Asians represented in books or tv shows but pretty much no Asians get to be in American music scene. Isn't that strange?


message 10: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited Aug 06, 2018 04:30PM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Bruyere wrote: "I think tv and movies are better off than books. I think the majority of authors write main characters who look like themselves. This even comes down to things like weight, hair color, eye color. F..."

well, there's a Kpop boy-band with about 12 members working on that right now, lol! I'm not certain......haven't put a lot of time into it, but offhand can think of groups here and there, like Smashing Pumpkins, where the lead isn't Asian-American, but one of the band members is.....just haven't thought about it (could be the point, right?)
Asian Americans have been in American media for a while.......think way back to Barney Miller, Star Trek, Happy Days, Margaret Cho's show in the 90s, Pacific Islanders included of course, in Hawaii 5-0.......just not tons of leads.....until Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan came along (but they were movies).

I agree with writers writing "themselves".....I had this discussion with a GR friend when we did a buddy read of a Stephen King novel. This younger GR member was lamenting that he doesn't have a very diverse population in his books, and I point out that in the 70s, when he started writing, LGBTQ matters were still kept hush-hush. As far as ethnic diversity, well, he tends to write about Maine and New Hamphshire, which again, back in the 70s, were not the most diverse corners of the U.S. He often tries to diversify his list of characters, and sometimes he does it well, other times, not so much. I told him it could be a case of "write what you know", because when you don't, it comes off badly. In King's detective series, for example, I didn't like his neighbour's character, because it was over-the-top (in the first two). In the last book of the series, I think he did a better job when he wrote a new character. I'm not a writer, but maybe it's that fear of being called out on it.
For example, when Sister Souljah's book came up, I looked at it, and I'm kind of pre-disposed not to like it. Long story, but I'm INTJ, and will zero in on little details.....like why her drug-dealing father's name is Santiaga.......in real life, it would always be Santiago, and she apparently studied in Spain and shouldn't have missed that.......but writing the story of a young Latina in Brooklyn almost seems to me like she's appropriating someone else's story or experience, or worse, perpetuating the stereotype of Hispanics being drug-runners. So far, I haven't seen any reviews calling her out on it, so maybe it's just me.


message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I guess I was meaning right now, how many pop singers in America are Asian? If you look at our music awards, we drag out the same 'ol 5 people every year. And yes, we have a few stars here and there that are Asian, but very few get major roles. (You found me out that I'm a Kpop fan).

It is a thin line authors have to walk in exploring social issues. There's the risk of cultural appropriation. More importantly, can you write about the issues of a culture without sounding racist? Can you only point out these issues if you're from the culture? And you can't, honestly, put any person of color in a role that might be perceived as perpetuating stereotypes.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Bruyere wrote: "I guess I was meaning right now, how many pop singers in America are Asian? If you look at our music awards, we drag out the same 'ol 5 people every year. And yes, we have a few stars here and ther..."

Sounds like you get where I"m coming from with Sister Souljah. Again, reviews don't seem to focus on it, but either talk about how wonderful she is, or how the readers hate that she inserted herself in there as a character who is the voice of wisdom. That's why I explained to my GR buddy that, in regard to S King, you know, he's older now, and probably very aware of walking that thin line, and tries to diversify his character list, but without crossing lines. Can you write about the issues of a culture from outside that culture/ethnic group? Another example that I don't understand, was SB Cohen's whole "Borat" character......can you pick on Muslims without being one, without it sounding racist? (And students assure me that Da Ali G Show was hilarious, I'm sure it was just warming up for Borat).

Ok, if you're over 20 and don't speak Korean, you just may be the person to explain the whole KPop sensation to me! :D


message 13: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I don't feel like I have an answer to any of this. I do wish we would be more open to issues in an effort to resolve it. I have heard from people that different areas of the US are better or worse at having honest discussion (I live in SoCal and think they aren't good at it). I know I feel that uncomfortable sensation in these situations where people make fun of things outside of their culture or religion.

I am over 20 and don't speak Korean. It is rather complicated being a fan who is a fan because of the music vs being boy crazy. I like it because they are well-honed performers, very good at dancing, push interesting fashion and video style, and produce music I enjoy. But I have no interest in the cutesy Kpop, which is about 50% of it. I do miss being able to understand the lyrics in songs (although they always insert English phrases).


message 14: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments I listen to a lot of what's called "World Music" and I don't understand the lyrics in most of the songs. I don't think you have to. The singers (if they're any good at all) should be able to convey the meaning and emotions -- especially the emotions -- behind the lyrics.


message 15: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) Parker wrote: "I listen to a lot of what's called "World Music" and I don't understand the lyrics in most of the songs. I don't think you have to. The singers (if they're any good at all) should be able to convey..."

I agree. And sometimes maybe you appreciate it more. I tend to get distracted by dumb lyrics myself.


message 16: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Parker wrote: "I listen to a lot of what's called "World Music" and I don't understand the lyrics in most of the songs. I don't think you have to. The singers (if they're any good at all) should be able to convey..."

You don't even need words at all. Samuel Barber wrote a piece of music that has been chosen as the saddest piece of music several times.


message 17: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments When I was in college, one of my Education classes had us go out and actually teach elementary students. I chose to have them write poetry to music (even though my teachers said it couldn't be done).
I used music with differing moods (all instrumental--I think I might have included that Barber piece) and had them simply write down words that it made them feel. The next day, we worked on putting those words into the form of a poem. The kids loved it!


message 18: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) That is true - we get a certain feeling from songs that transcends words. However, because I am a singer, I do wish I could sing along. :)


message 19: by Parker (new)

Parker | 204 comments Bruyere wrote: "That is true - we get a certain feeling from songs that transcends words. However, because I am a singer, I do wish I could sing along. :)"

There's a wonderful company called Putumayo that specialises in World Music and they often include lyrics (in both the original language and English!). I'm a singer too, and I know what you mean.


message 20: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I'll look that up!


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Parker wrote: "Bruyere wrote: "That is true - we get a certain feeling from songs that transcends words. However, because I am a singer, I do wish I could sing along. :)"

There's a wonderful company called Putum..."


I do the same, and have several of those (although most of my music is in languages I understand).
I just meant the whole Kpop sensation, because I was thinking of it all as the boy bands that Bruyere says only constitutes 50% of it. Thanks, Bruyere, I've never understood it before!


message 22: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) I don't know the percentage, but I think it's safe to say that at least half the groups are girls. Korean media is much more conservative compared to American, so you don't see much overtly sexual dancing or outfits. So there's a whole selection of Kpop that is cute and very chaste. That's what I meant.


message 23: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new)

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
I can't remember which thread we were talking about Coldest Winter Ever on ....

But I wanted to add that I've started it. I've read a couple chapters .... And it's different. Definitely not what I'm used to. So we'll see how it goes.


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