The Importance of Diversity Readers

The Importance of Diversity Readers

Why You Should Consider A Diversity Reader

Even though I have found a new job, it does not pay as well as my last job, and the hours are not yet consistent because of COVID. While I’m personal training a few people on my own to help make up for some of the lost income, it still isn’t enough. I was going to use my last job to help pay some of my tuition for physical therapy school so that way I don’t graduate with a heaping pile of debt, but that went out the window when they laid off roughly 50% of their staff–and I was one of those unfortunate victims. So now I am going to offer diversity reading services, which I will officially release in a tab on this website when the contract is finalized.

So what is a diversity reader? A diversity reader is someone who goes through your manuscript and makes sure that you’re accurately portraying marginalized characters. For example, if you do not have bipolar disorder but are writing a character who does, I could go through and make sure you’re portraying this character in an accurate manner that doesn’t play into stereotypes those with bipolar deal with on a daily basis (we’re crazy, we’re dangerous, we’re irresponsible, we should be locked up). Even if you do have bipolar disorder, not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences it the same, so I could offer some inspiration you otherwise may not have thought of. Of course, you’re still allowed to have creative license with whatever you write, but the point is that books have gotten much more diverse than even just twenty years ago, and what was acceptable then is no longer acceptable now.

I’m going to tell you why I chose diversity reader over editor–and it isn’t just because editing is more work. I watched the final season of 13 Reasons Why and was sorely disappointed with how the show treated Clay’s panic disorder, which I was recently diagnosed with. They treated his disorder as if it were more of a burden to others than to him and that he was absolutely batshit crazy, excuse the language. His friends called him Clay Cray, and the show never once addressed that this is not okay and that it’s ableist. Yes, in real life, people are ableist, but the point is that when Clay revealed he had panic disorder since he was a child, his friends should have apologized, and that never happened. We are all in control of our actions, but panic disorder can make you feel disconnected from yourself and can make you black out. I have felt disconnected and even suicidal, but I have yet to black out, thankfully.

I also was not happy that they made him lose his mind, grab a gun (or was it a taser?), and threaten to shoot a cop. People with panic disorder are more likely to implode than to explode. They could have shown him imploding instead and still have him wind up in-patient. But now people who watched the final season, especially impressionable teens, are probably of the opinion that this is how people with panic disorder are–ticking time bombs ready to go off at any minute. I understand the show is a drama, but it’s like they did minimal research or didn’t actually get someone with panic disorder to vet it. It was insulting. So this is what made me consider being a diversity reader to earn some extra income.

Diversity readers do not exist to censor your work. Our feedback is just that–feedback. Feel free to take it or leave it. I don’t care what anyone says about diversity readers. If you’re a white person writing from the perspective of a POC, you better darn well get a diversity reader who is a POC because a white person’s experience is NOT the same as a POC’s experience. It’s the same with being neurotypical and writing from the perspective of someone with a mental illness. Mental illness changes your brain and your thought processes and how you experience the world, even when you are stable, and a neurotypical person cannot possibly understand that, even with all the research in the world.

So once I get my contract written out, I’ll write an updated post with topics I’m willing to look over.