Since my last post on my involvement with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team, our little campaign has sprouted legs and run off with farther results that we'd expected or even hoped for. It's been wonderful to see submissions still pouring in, people touched by the campaign and reaching out to support, and a general sense that yes, diversity is needed, and we can all make it happen.
With that in mind, I thought it'd be perfect to kick off Diversify! (and postpone my rather dry FAQ I've been preparing until the end of the week) with a real-life hero that is rocking your social media.
#WeNeedDiverseBooks Team Leader
Author of the Prophecy series (HarperTeen)
Power Up Items: Donuts, French Fries, steak, chocolate or cake
The brains behind the #WeNeedDiverseBooks initiative, Ellen combines her smarts with a deadly knowledge of the art of pointy stick warcraft.
(Hide your toothpicks.)
Ellen Oh is a force to be reckoned with.
A self-described "bull headed Taurus", she admits that when someone tells her she can't do something, she sets out to prove them wrong.
"The importance of diversity was programmed into my DNA, I think. I've always been about equality and justice - it's why I became a lawyer. As a lawyer, I saw so much sexism in my professional life that it was galling. And racism was something I had dealt with all my life. So how can I not stand for diversity?"
If your strategy for battle is to wait it out until a hero gets tired, you'll be waiting a long time on Ellen.
"People always ask me, "Don't you get sick of getting up on your soapbox?" And I say "No matter how old and infirm I get, I'll still roll my wheelchair up on that diversity soapbox. Until the day I don't need to do it anymore."
Ellen has another personal incentive for fighting for diversity: her daughters.
"I'm Korean American and I have three daughters who are also Korean American. Diversity became a huge issue for me when my first daughter was born and I went looking for kids' books that she could relate to and came up short."
Times are changing, and with every step Ellen takes in the battle for diversity and representation, she hopes they are for the better.
"When I was young, finding a strong girl hero was really difficult. But times have changed in that respect. Now it's up to us to do the same for authors of underrepresented groups that have long been marginalized. And I won't stop until progress is made!"
Don't get on her bad side, folks. Her attack level won't fall until change happens, but yours might.
Be part of the change we need. Be a hero. Diversify.