Stop Using POC as Plot Devices

by - 8:13 AM

Hello guys! I'm here today/tonight to give you a list of 2017 releases that have POC as main characters. Front and center. The heroes. The ones with HEAs. Not the villains. Not the sidekick/best friend who is stereotyped so much you can't even see the real character. Not the slave who falls in love with the white MC. Not the uncivilized compared to the modern white MC. I'm here today as well to discuss something. 

It's very common, which pisses me off so much, to see POC mainly as the best friend or as the one who gets kill to make the white savior realize something about themselves. It's not uncommon to see POC being described with food, example: almond-shaped eyes, caramel skin. It's not uncommon for them to be described as "exotic" like they are aliens from another planet, like seeing them is out of the MCs' world. You describe a bird as "exotic," with it's colorful plumage. BUT NOT A PERSON. How can you say that about a person?

Almost always whenever they are called or described like that, the MC is white. Almost always these books get a spot in the Bestseller list... 

It's hurtful. It's gross. It's disheartening. It's 2016 ~ ALMOST 2017. I am 1000% done of seeing the same thing over and over again and for these books to receive the praise and the joy and the tears of being the next best thing. The next Diversity Advocate Who Is Saving Us All. Spoiler? It's not. It will never be. And it's hurtful to see people we trust, people we thought as friends to support these kinds of books. Because we know it's badly representing cultures + people. If a POC tells you there is bad rep in a book, listen to them, don't question. Even worse if you question it and the person who tells you has the same culture as the bad rep they are speaking up about. 

There are some amazing people speaking up about this issue right now on Twitter, their words are better than mine and I look up to them so much. Check @justinaireland, @mrjaycoles, @EllenOnWords, @TristinaWright, @heidiheilig. I recommend following them on Twitter, every social media platform. 

Also authors: if a reader tells you your book is problematic af: listen and be better. Be better to represent minorities. Don't excuse yourself~ you know you did bad. You know you screwed up. Don't try to educate, to explain to POC why your book is not racist when clearly IT IS. When a book is out of the author's hands, the reader can interpret however they want the book. And if it is racist, you'll know for sure. 

We can't go into 2017 and still have books that are being published that are hurtful for POC and that represent them badly. Because it's not only hurtful to them but it is awful for teens to pick up these books, THESE YOUNG ADULT BOOKS and read that they are the villains of the world. That they don't get a happy ending because it's *cue sarcasm* important for the white characters to get their HEA or else they get their feels hurt. Because of course our priority is for them to be okay. *rolls eyes*( ̄^ ̄)凸  It's something wonderful right now that so many books are coming out and teens see themselves in it. They can go and say "Hey mom/dad/anyone, this character looks like me." And let me tell you: I think that's the best feeling in the world. While we might get some books like that, all the other times there appear books that use POC as plot devices. And nope, honey, POC are not for you to use for whatever your white MC wants or in real life as well. WE HAVE THREE SUPERHERO BOOKS THAT HAVE POC AS MCS THAT RELEASED IN 2016. And you know how happy that makes us? We are heroes of our own stories.

Ok, now I'm doing a list of 2017 releases that have POC MCs! Note: If you have read one and you think it has bad rep, it's racist ~ tell me and I'll delete it asap. I'll add #ownvoices mostly and books written by POC. And some white authors who I know get the rep right!

~ The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
~ The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
~ When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

 ~ Tiger's Watch by Julia Ember
~ Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
~ It's Not Like It's a Secret by Mia Sugiura

 ~ Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
~ Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

 ~ You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
~ The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
~ Shattered by Lee Winter

~ American Street by Ibi Zoboi
~ Want by Cindy Pon
~ The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

~ North of Happy by Adi Alsaid
~ The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl From Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig
~ The Takedown by Corrie Wang

~ Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
~ The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
~ Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Girl in Between by Pintip Dunn
~ A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi

Books that don't have covers yet:
~ 27 Hours by Tristina Wright
~ The Amaterasu Project by Axie Oh
~ Love Sugar Magic by Anna Meriano [Middle Grade]
~ Into the Black (Beyond the Red #2) by Ava Jae
~ Dear Martin by Nic Stone
~ Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
~ They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
~ This Promise I Will Keep by Aisha Saeed
~ Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani *graphic novel
~ The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian
~ Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
~ The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi [Middle Grade]

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  1. This post is all the amazing. Love the rec list, and this message really needs to be shared. It's almost crazy to imagine how different my life would have been if the YA literature I grew up with had POC (like me). <3 thank you for writing this.

    - One Way Or An Author

    1. Thank you for reading it Aila!!! And yes same, my childhood was all white characters and not enough characters of color. I'm happy teenagers today have the opportunity to grow up with these stories and identify so closely to these characters <3333 They deserve to be represented! Ily Aila <3


  2. I absolutely agree with everything said. It's tiring and disheartening to see yourself misrepresented. It's like YA is telling you 'you don't matter' and it sucks. Buttttttt I'm so happy to see so many diverse reads for next year. I have them all on my tbr!

    1. Same saaaame ~ it's better to have no rep than to have bad rep tbh? Bad rep is hurtful and painful to see. That people read that stuff and think they can get away with calling POC stuff just because a book written by a white author says it's okay to do that? It's just pisses me off to see these kinds of books getting recognition that they just don't deserve sighs

      And yes!!! 2017 is looking so good ~ I am very excited to get all of these books, they sound amazing and epic!!


  3. I am freakishly excited for When Dimple Met Rishi. I must have it!!!!!

    1. Me too me too me too me too!!!! I cannot wait much longerrrrr


  4. Such a great list! I added a bunch to my TBR, thanks to you. We absolutely need more diverse YA and books in general, and these all sounds so amazing!

  5. I completely agree with you when it comes to authors needing to stop using POC as a plot device, and thank you so much for this post! I'm looking forward to many of the books on this list and am looking forward to seeing how these authors represent diversity ^-^ More books to check out now! 2017 can't come quickly enough.

    - Eli @ The Silver Words