Alex Sanchez is the author of the Rainbow Boys trilogy, as well as the Lambda Award-winning middle-grade novel So Hard to Say. His latest novel is Bait.
Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
When my family immigrated from Mexico to the U.S., I experienced prejudice for the first time. In order to pass as white, I quickly learned English, stopped speaking Spanish, and didn’t tell anyone I was from Mexico. I sacrificed a part of my self-identity, replacing it with a sense of shame. Only after I had grown into an adult did I begin to speak Spanish again, reclaiming my Mexican heritage and a fundamental part of who I am.
Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer?
Definitely, in that I make a point of including ethnically diverse characters in my novels. I remember when I was growing up, how hard it was for me to find books that included non-white American people like me. Now, when I hear from readers of my novels, they tell me how validating it is to read about characters who, like them, are ethnically diverse.
In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?
The opposite of racism and bigotry is empathy. By allowing readers to step into the shoes of a character who is racially or ethnically different and see the world through that character’s eyes, literature inspires empathy and promotes tolerance.
Visit Alex at www.AlexSanchez.com