We want to believe that the creative industry operates within a meritocratic framework because it paints a nice picture of reality. But it also happens to be a lie — a harmful one, because it implies that marginalised members of a given industry are the ones to blame for the lack of opportunities, the double-standards, the misrepresentations, the prejudices they face. That BAME authors aren’t getting the recognition and the same opportunities as white authors because they haven’t earned it is a dangerous misconception.

Moreover, there is a tendency in fiction to confuse diversity with identity. People who aren’t part of a given minority community can, of course, write about marginalised characters all they want, but what we, as an audience, really want is accurate representation.

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The CCBC recently released the statistics on diversity in children’s books that were published in the US in 2018. Out of all the children’s books published in that year, only 23% were about children of colour. And it turned out that there were actually more books written about animals than about BAME people. 1% of children’s books were about Native American characters, 5% were about Latinx characters, 7% were about Asian characters, 10% were about African/African-American characters. But 27% of children’s books published in the US in 2018 were about animals. 27%. That’s more than all of the books about BAME characters combined.

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