You may be wondering what a straight white girl has to say about diversity. Frankly, more than you’d expect. I know I have my biases based on the privileges that I hold because of that part of my identity, but I hope to use that to uplift others.
One way is through a diverse cast in Aster’s Coda: Exposure, my debut novel. Let’s see how that came to be.
I grew up in a little corner in the world called South Auckland at a crossroads between three suburbs in the region. It was a newsworthy place for housing crises, criminal cases and COVID community outbreaks – that last part mainly because it houses the New Zealand International Airport. And when my high school met with other schools, the teachers would react differently to us within seconds as soon as we said our school was based in South Auckland. They’d consider us a threat, a blemish amongst the other students attending these events. Most people would want to get out of the area, many other white kids who lived in the area were enrolled in out of zone schools because of a reputation that wasn’t ideal.
And wasn’t entirely true.
Housing crises are happening everywhere. Crime happens regardless of location or class. The rest of Auckland wasn’t exactly a utopia.
But we had something a little different. I’d be willing to be that South Auckland is one of the most diverse communities in the world.
My schooling life alone exemplifies this. White people made up less than a quarter of the population of all my schools I went to in South Auckland. I encountered far more people with roots in Asia, Polynesia and Maori culture. And each of my schools took time to embrace these various cultures and educate us about how even cultures not present at our school lived. There was a strong sense of cultural pride and later rainbow pride when I went to high school.
I didn’t connect to culture like others did in their experiences at school. My mother called it “being a minority”, but that phrasing doesn’t sit well with me. I more so had pride for what others had and the gratefulness that they could express themselves in such a way. I was fine for being “without culture” and an observer of these incredible cultures.
But few saw what I saw outside of that community. Some people feared to set foot in South Auckland while I feel like a fish out of water in a crowd of white people. And that’s all I saw in the media, just another group of white people saving the world, typically lead by a guy.
So I knew when writing Aster’s Coda – the whole series – that I’d present these cultures and people in a contemporary/fantasy setting. I’d present the people, the customs, the settings with inspirations from various cultures to create something fantastic and welcoming for everyone. I’ve got characters from all walks of life and all different societies, some which will be explored within the series.
But I do understand that it is not my place to tell the story of another culture directly. I am in a position of privilege where I haven’t experienced what others have. So while I will not tell the stories of people of colour and queer people, I can hope that my writing can at least bring characters like them into the spotlight.
Did this convince you that my story is worth reading? You can preorder Aster’s Coda: Exposure here!
Yours in writing