Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an amazing writing conference. I heard lots of great advice and exchanged ideas with a number of new and established authors. It was an incredible and inspiring event.
However, the keynote speaker’s address, which should have been the highlight of the day, left me with the sourest note. Her topic was one that grates my nerves every time I hear it, because, in my opinion, not only should it be done away with, it never should have come into being in the first place.
Yes, we aspiring writers spent thirty minutes being lectured, not on plot or characterization or the ever important query letter, but rather the topic of diversity.
Now I have the keyboard, and I say, let diversity die.
Let the word crawl away in the dust and never rear its ugly head again.
Why? you may ask.
Diversity separates us. Even benign, well-intentioned celebrations of it only serve to divide us into neatly portioned groups. Us and them. Which do you belong to?
If we did away with diversity, erased it from our vocabularies today, there would only be one word left to label people with, one lens with which to view them – human. Because even though we come in different flavours with different candy-coated toppings, underneath, we are all the same.
Despite our outward differences, we all experience life in vastly similar ways. It’s essentially what makes story-telling such an effective medium. And if we don’t share similar experiences, let’s talk about them; let’s tell those stories, instead of trying to show off how many colours are in our crayon set. We all read in black and white.
When I tell people that my favourite writer is Shakespeare, I usually get one of two reactions. “Oh, you poor young child, just parroting some dusty old professor. You just haven’t lived long enough to appreciate the moderns.” Or: “Snobby rich white girl with her British literature. What does she know about real life?” Diverse people trying to figure out which group I belong in.
But the reason I love Shakespeare is because he speaks to the human condition – in all its diversity!
He wrote about the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the wise, the foolish, the funny, the tragic, the romantic, the lost, the found. You can be male, female, white, black, anything in the world and identify with at least one of those conditions, probably more.
Yes, these words are out of context, but strict discussions of the Bard’s texts are another topic. Still, they give us meaning, four hundred years after their original penning. So, with slight modification (forgive me, Will), I leave you with a vision for a world without diversity.
“We are Human. Hath
not a Human eyes? Hath not a Human hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
all men and women are? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison
us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that.” (The Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 1)