Diversity Is Needed

Hector Machuca

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 On Saturday, October 7, the Texas Teen Book Festival took place at St. Edwards University.

The event started with the Keynote speaker, Marie Lu. She spoke about her book Warcross and the process and research that went into writing her book. According to Lu, Warcross is set in the near future and  had to envision what kind of technological advances would be around for that time period. 

As the day went on, multiple different groups of authors (panels) got together and discussed about varying books. The groups’ names varied from  something like “You+Me=Fate” to “It’s All In The Twist: Of Myth & Mystery, Secrets & Truth.”

A reoccurring theme that was present at the panels that I went to was the idea of diversity. Many of the writers talked about how there were many types of underrepresented stories that do not get the love that they should. In the panel “You+Me=Fate,” there were stories about different types of love, from interracial love to homosexuality. A example they used to show how there are types of love was the TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” The speaker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, explained that a single story that the people see is not in any way true for all. An example  would be a story about a homosexual person committing suicide because of the way society judges their love.  There are many different aspects of this story and one single point of view does not cover them all.

In today’s world, however, it ends up being what people see as the standard. The panels talked about how the stories they have written are not the same for everyone and that each story is different.

Another panel I visited  was “Smart is the New Black.” The authors there talked about what made a nerd and the types of nerds out there. A nerd is a single minded expert in a particular field ranging from science to fantasy. Some examples included Whovians, (Doctor Who fans)  to Bronies (Male My Little Pony fans), all were welcomed there. This panel was mostly about letting your inner nerd fly.  

The closing keynote that showed anyone from anywhere can reach great heights, was the author Jason Reynolds.  He spoke about how rappers were the young adult writers of his generation. They spoke about the problems that Reynolds had when he was a kid, avoiding things such as drugs, gangs, and fights. Reynolds got inspired to write poetry because of the rappers he grew up listening. The music from his generation motivated him to keep writing poetry in school and into college. Something that Reynolds said during the keynote was, “This is what I want to tell the young folks, when you get out of here, out of school, out of your mama’s house, there are gonna be people that tell you that you ain’t enough, that you ain’t got it. Don’t matter if you’re from the most wealthiest family or the most stable family, there will be someone that will still tell you that….. What I want you to know is that the greatest gift you can give you is you.” He used own experience to bring forward the stories of people like him, help people be proud for what they are and where they come from.  He is helping inspire a generation, along with all the other writers that were there at the festival with him.

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