On whitewashing characters

I was standing in the Young Adult section in the bookstore yesterday, staring at row after row of pretty shiny book covers when I noticed something.

They all look the same. 

Skinny white girls in dresses.

No, I don’t have a problem with skinny white girls in dresses and no I’m not being racist.

What bothers me is that almost every single book cover I see have a skinny white girl in a flowing dress. Have you noticed the lack of diversity in books? When was the last time you see a book cover/ read a novel with a protagonist from a different country?

Most of the books on my bookshelf have white protagonists. I admit, I’m kind of tired of seeing the same ol’ characters. I want something different. So I went hunting for diverse books and guess what? I came up with less than five books.

Is this because most writers are afraid to step out of their comfort zone? Or is it because they are afraid of misrepresenting the culture, or being unqualified to do it? (Let me tell you something: you’re not)

Then we have the publishers who whitewash the characters on book covers. Their reason is this: Books with white people sell more than people of color and readers won’t be able to connect with the POC on the cover.

What’s wrong with the above reason is that they are assuming that most of the readers are white. And who says book covers with POC DON’T sell?

A few years back there was a public outcry because the publisher decides to make the girl on a book cover white. When it was specifically written in the story that the MC is NOT a white.


But the matter was resolved and ta-dah! The publisher gave the book cover a makeover.

Taking a character of another race and portraying him/her as white is horrible and we shouldn’t do it. But we still do it for the money or attention or whatever.

It’s time we take action and put a stop to whitewashing. Or we will still see whitewashing decades later.


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