YA Writing

Multicultural Fiction: What is it?

Ok I’m asking this question to myself as well as you. Why? Because for all intents and purposes I am multicultural but I don’t feel any different than when I was just black, African-American or just a light-skinned sister.

The combo of being multicultural and a writer seems to be all the rage these days in the publishing world. For me that’s a good thing. The confusion is what does that really mean? Sure I have a multicultural background but my experiences are not unlike most other people. I grew up with both black and white kids from elementary through high school. I even met others like me with varying ethnic combinations in their ancestry. But when it comes to my writing there is little I can say that sets me apart, aside from my heritage.

So when I write I do not necessarily bring a ‘multicultural’ perspective to the page. If I do, it’s based on my experiences not necessarily a unique take on life. I know some who have lived with dual cultures in the home and are able to share that dichotomy, but for me my life seemed pretty normal. We leaned more toward the black side than the white one, so in that sense I have a black perspective but growing up in the 70s, it was pretty much the same perspective as any other person. We all hung out together, listened to the same music, etc.

Which begs the question: how do I bring my multiculturalism into my writing —  or should I?

My MG novel-in-progress touches on the issue of color as a deeper discussion on illegal immigration, but it is not the focus of the story. And most stories that do address color have already been told.

Therefore, I think multicultural is just a state of being and one that can help to enhance understanding of diverse cultures, but in my case, I’m not sure it makes a whole lot of difference when I write for kids. My characters are multi-ethnic because that is my truth, but beyond that their experiences are more ‘normal kid’ than ‘mc kid.’

Maybe after I attend the multicultural lit conference this year, I can get clarity —  and closure.


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