Best Teen & Young Adult Fiction eBooks on Prejudice in 2022

Racialized Identities in YA Speculative Fiction: Teen and Young Adult Fiction eBooks on Prejudice

A few YA speculative fiction books have addressed the issue of race and prejudice, and some of them do not even feature a prominent race at all. For example, a dystopian YASF story might have all white protagonists, and there would be no need for racism or prejudice in such a world. But how can we tell when such stories are based on racial prejudice?

Racialized identities in YA speculative fiction

The essays in Racialized Identities in YA Speculative Fiction explore how race and otherness are represented in YA literature. Most of the fictional works discussed in the collection are set in the Western world, although Paolo Bacigalupi's Drowned Cities draws on Asian settings and Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series incorporates African culture. Racialized identities in YA speculative fiction has an important role to play in creating inclusive, diverse worlds for a diverse audience.

While YASF texts may attempt to create a world free from race, many of the texts reinscribe current social hierarchies, implying that race doesn't matter and that readers shouldn't be concerned about it. As the number of multiracial readers increases, so will the amount of YASF texts depicting multiracial identities. These texts will continue to change our understanding of race in the future.

As Kellogg and Liddell noted, "recognizing one's race is crucial for the development of one's identity." Even if a mixed-race individual isn't aware of his or her racial background, his or her experiences with race are critical to their sense of self. For a mixed-race student, the shock of being invited to join an ethnic group has a similar effect, serving as a catalyst for further exploration of identity.

A study conducted by Malin Alkestrand shows that contemporary YA speculative fiction is more progressive in gender representation than the traditional YA genre. It also finds that the majority of YA speculative fiction is still predominantly white, heteronormative, and able-bodied protagonists. This is not an isolated incident, and the results are reflected in other genres, including adult fiction.

However, many YA speculative fiction texts have no protagonists of color, and there is a lack of diversity. The authors may have chosen to make their worlds in which race does not have a role. Racialized identities are not often the central characters, but they are nevertheless important to the story. The authors of YA speculative fiction should not ignore these issues.

YASF's lack of diverse characters

One of the major reasons for YASF's lack of diverse characters is systemic racism. The book community has made many mistakes in dealing with systemic racial discrimination, such as adding black characters, which only perpetuates the problem. Adding black characters also perpetuates the stereotypes of black people as victims of injustice, and they often sacrifice their livelihood for the benefit of non-poc characters. This is the modern equivalent of the damsel in distress, and the lack of diverse characters only reinforces that stereotype.

In addition to limiting the number of BIPOC characters in YA fiction, the re-creation of historical events like the Tuskegee study can make YASF less racial-inclusive. This can lead to dramatic examples of stereotypical attitudes, and micro-aggressions that go unnoticed in everyday life are as damaging as overt racism. Moreover, this practice isn't limited to fiction, but has long been a part of the history of the human race.

Dystopian YASF's white protagonists

Although many dystopian novels are taught in schools, only a handful feature characters of color or stories with female protagonists. The canon of straight white male novels prioritizes the narratives of men, and the curriculum is hardly diverse. Many of these stories are racially sexist. A dystopian book, for example, is unlikely to be a fair representation of modern society.

The problem is that white authors and filmmakers often find it natural to erase people of color from their stories, and they ignore the problem of fleshing out minority characters. This practice is not only harmful to the books' readership, but it also reflects their own thinking and attitudes. Many of these stories feature characters of color whose appearance is based on their ethnicity. This is problematic, as many readers will assume that characters of colour are the same as the white protagonists.

Hollywood, on the other hand, frequently ignores the problems of racial and gender discrimination. In movies like Divergent, the protagonists are white and focus on societal separation rather than actual human problems. As such, these films avoid tackling serious issues and problems that exist in our world today. Similarly, the protagonists of dystopian novels are often white and are the main characters.

The majority of dystopian YASF's white protagonists are often racial. It's also important to realize that white protagonists often rely on stereotypes, and that this has a profound impact on their ability to make a decision. Many dystopian novels start with the realization that a society is oppressive. In addition, dystopian novels often feature diverse characters, including protagonists who are not racially or ethnically stereotypical.

In The Hunger Games, one dystopian novel that focuses on the oppression of black women features a Black protagonist, Araminta. As the only non-white protagonist in the series, Araminta blends into the woodwork whenever her narrator looks at her. Her white skin and black hair is a symbol of the oppression she suffers, and it highlights how black women are often considered "savages" in her society.

YASF's neoliberal portrayal of race

"The American Dream: A Neoliberal Paradigm for Racism" is a powerful argument against neoliberal policies that ignore the role of personal responsibility and capital. The neoliberal paradigm ignores the importance of education and wealth while overstating the functional role of the market. The gap between the two sexes' wealth grows with education. For example, the median wealth gap between whites and blacks with a high school diploma is $110,000, while the gap grows to about $20000 for families with a college degree.

The YASF's neo-liberal portrayal of race fails to acknowledge the realities of a globalized economy that places a disproportionate number of women of color in low-wage part-time contingent and outsourced service sector jobs. Immigrant women of color are particularly disadvantaged in these sectors, which have grown globally, with the expansion of the low-wage service industry and manufacturing jobs. The neo-liberal economics has also resulted in new forms of control that stem from the heightened xenophobia. Moreover, YASF's neo-liberal portrayal of race also ignores the historical reality of black Americans' relative economic progress between 1940 and 1980.



Rachel Gray

In July 2021 I graduated with a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in Marketing Management from Edinburgh Napier University. My aim is to work in book publishing, specifically in publicity, or to specialise in branding or social media marketing. I have 6 years of retail experience as for over 5 years I was a Customer Advisor at Boots UK and I now work as a Bookseller in Waterstones. In my spare time, I love to read and I run an Instagram account dedicated to creating and posting book related content such as pictures, stories, videos and reviews. I am also in the early stages of planning to write my own book as I also enjoy creative writing.

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