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Why Do We Need to See Women of Colour in Literature?

Why is it Important to Have Women of Colour Represented in Literature?

by Reeya Hayat

Reeya Hayat is studying for her GCSEs. She lives in Buckinghamshire, and is passionate about equality. An aspiring journalist and writer, she tells us why we need to see Black and Asian women is books.

Literature is a craft, an art form and one of the rare ways a person can weave their dreams, fears, and concerns for society skilfully through words- compressed all in one book.
Literature is a way in which someone’s voice can be heard.
But for too long, the only voice that has been heard and celebrated is the white, heterosexual male.
I see this even in my education. For the GCSE English Literature course, throughout the entire two-year course, only two people of colour are learnt about, briefly, for 2-3 lessons.
By doing this, we are teaching young people that the only voice valuable to society is the white, heterosexual male. That voices of other people don’t matter, and cannot matter if they don’t fit in a certain category.
Yet, when reading a book written by a woman of colour, I recognise hopes, courage, and anxieties, that have been present in the many women around me, my mother, sister, cousins, and friends.
These authors and poets are beacons, lighthouses that guide people, of all ages, sexualities, and colours, through the dark waters filled with patriarchy, naysayers, and racists.
Assuring people that their voices do matter. Unlike society, which teaches that our skin colour, sexuality, and religion hold us back from progress, this representation in literature emphasises that all of these differences are what make our words special, treasured and more impactful.