In a world that struggles with its diversity, with tolerance to differing views and willingness to listen, we all need to open our minds and hearts, to raise children who inherit the planet with that tolerance, willingness, and understanding. There are many books out there that reach out and embrace diversity, but some are hard to find. Kate Diamond, a sophomore at Oberlin College, has decided to take the project into her own hands. She has created an accessible database of books that include gay, ethnically diverse, and culturally complicated characters. The books include both adult and children’s selections. Undertaking such a project is a huge task. Kate shares her inspirations with PMGM.
Can you tell us what you're studying at Oberlin?
I’m a politics major, and I’m also taking classes in computer science and East Asian Studies. I’m hoping to have a minor in East Asian Studies and maybe another major or minor in comp-sci.
What inspired you to create All Our Worlds?
People are always talking about diversity at Oberlin, and about representation. People want to read books and see movies with people like them. But most of the conversations I hear end up being about how some movie or some book wasn’t good enough, or how popular media don’t have enough representation. These are all valid points, but I would rather enjoy the good works and promote them over the not-so-good ones instead of focusing on pulling down the unsatisfactory ones.
I’ve seen plenty of queer and diverse science fiction and fantasy- my favorite genres to read- and I’ve shared them with friends, but I rarely hear praise of those as much as I hear criticism of other things. And how does that encourage readers or authors? If the good works are promoted, made popular, talked about, then readers will be able to find them and writers will see that they have an audience.
I also want to disprove the assumption that science fiction is a “white” thing that I see even from people promoting diversity. There is an enormous legacy of science fiction writing from Black authors, Southeast Asian authors, and many others. These shouldn’t be brushed aside. Works of diverse fantastic fiction, whether famous, forgotten, or newly published, don’t have to remain in a niche of a niche- they can come to light and be celebrated.
With this in mind, I planned to create a sorted database to connect readers with the books they want to read, but might not have heard of otherwise.
What are some of your favorite books you've included?
There’s a list of my favorites on the site, but I have to make a special note of the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. I’ve included a few of the trilogies set in that world. It’s a very diverse medieval fantasy- the nation’s greatest hero (Vanyel Ashkevron of The Last Herald-Mage) is gay, and the other books feature characters of many races, and religions. The main part of the series has several non-white gay characters. The arc is focused heavily on cooperation between different countries and peoples- something I really enjoy reading. On a YA note, there’s Akata Witch, where a quartet of kids in Nigeria learn a system of magic that’s different from any others I’ve read, and Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series, with a diverse cast including a girl who realizes she’s gay in a book later in the series.
Although this was a project for class, you have created such a great resource, for teachers, librarians, and readers. Do you intend to keep growing the website?
I hope to continue the project for as long as I can- adding new books, more search criteria, more lists, and any other features that might be helpful. Right now most of my new books are coming in through submissions. Those are always welcome!
Thank you, Kate! We look forward to visiting All Our Worlds! -Eden Unger Bowditch
visit Kate at http://doublediamond.net/aow/homepage.php