I first heard about Diversity Cross Check on the Writing Excuses podcast (another amazing writing resource in itself).
So what is Diversity Cross Check? I’ll let them explain it for you….
Simple premise: You’re a writer interested in diversifying your characters, but you don’t share those experiences and you don’t want to offend anyone. A good resource is always those who understand firsthand what it’s like to live as such. So you visit the appropriate tag, find someone you’d like to work with, and contact them via whatever method they’ve provided.
How cool is that?
Often people lament about how little diversity there is in books. It seems an obvious thing to solve – write more diverse characters! Make them the protagonist! Avoid negative stereotypes!
It is easy, until you go to the next level down and start fleshing out said characters. Then you discover you have no idea what an Orthodox Jew would be doing at a certain point in their festive calendar – if you even know what that calendar is in the first place. Or the conflict a second generation immigrant from a specific nation in a certain city would be experiencing as they balance their new life against old world traditions and customs. Wikipedia can only go so far in answering these questions. It just provides more broad brush strokes for you to work with. The detail comes from those who live it.
The fear of accidental offence stops people from branching out from what they know. It’s limiting when it doesn’t need to be. Diversity Cross Check might be the best place to address an issue with a character you secretly want to write. Or it might ignite an interest in a minority waiting for someone brave enough to step forward and give them a main character voice.