Could Diversity Be Harming Its Own Cause?

Could Diversity Be Harming Its Own Cause?

When Criticism Becomes Bullying

It's the big new (or not-so-new when you think about it) subject in publishing. Lack of Diversity. It's splattered over headlines, debated within panels, and agonized over in the industry.

You know where else it has an impact? Fandoms. The publishing world is driven by the reactions and opinions of book fandoms, but not always in a positive way. Diversity is supposed to be a positive concept. It's supposed to be a term that encourages minority voices to find the representation denied to them for so long, a term that allows the world to be depicted as it really is: multi-cultural.

Yet, diversity has made a surprisingly quick left turn. Suddenly, to even attempt becoming a diverse writing is a terrifying thought, because the fandoms of "diverse" books are the most critical. Many well-known authors such as Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and most recently Sarah J. Maas have become victims of the word rather than champions for it.

There is no hiding the truth. Up until recent years, diversity has been nearly nonexistent in the publishing industry. Popular writers were either male, white, or at the very least American/English. That's a fact, and I will never try to deny it. Things have changed, though. Publishers are now hearing the cry of the public and understand the need for literature that not only reflects the desires of the public, but also the cultures of the public. Sameness is no longer a term we want to hear.

However, just as Sameness blanketed the literary sphere in the past, the attempt to force Diversity into the same position has already begun. White writers are becoming scared to attempt writing diverse characters, for fear of misrepresenting a certain group/race/culture and being verbally attacked in the process. Diverse writers are becoming scared NOT to write diverse characters, for fear of the exact same thing.

Note to readers and writers: Just because you are a diverse author does not mean you should be forced to write only diverse characters! And just because you are a white writer does not mean you should be forced not to write white characters! We need both, whether in the same books or separate ones. But we also need to understand that this is an opportunity for CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM rather than bullying.

Sarah J. Maas is the perfect, current example of when the public can turn nasty, even while trying to be a proponent of diversity. Her fandom has recently exploded on Twitter with some of the most negative and hurtful backlashes I've ever seen. She's been accused of being a purist, of purging her characters, and I've seen multiple tweets blaring profanity and telling her to quit writing.

Readers! If a character is misrepresented in literature, it is your job to draw attention to this so the writer can learn from the world and grow/adapt through it. Yelling at someone and telling them they are worthless is not your job. All that makes you is a bully; you make yourself no different than the people who once refused to even consider a character who was different than them.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Iced Earth: 'Burnt Offerings' Album Review

'Burnt Offerings' is Iced Earth’s magnum opus thanks to its impressive musicianship and brilliant songwriting


Jon Schaffer - Rhythm Guitar / Vocals

Randall Shawver - Lead Guitar

Matthew Barlow - Lead Vocals

Dave Abell - Bass Guitar

Rodney Beasley - Drums

Additional info:

Recorded at Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida.

Produced by Jon Schaffer and Tom Morris.

Year: 1995

Album Length: 52:39

Genre: Thrash Metal, Power Metal

Label: Century Media


Burnt Offerings is the third album by American power metal band Iced Earth. After a three year hiatus, Iced Earth comes back in full force. Iced Earth decided to adjust their lineup for the third time. Lead vocalist John Greely has been replaced by the legendary Matt Barlow and drummer Rick Secchiari has been replaced by Rodney Beasley. This makes the third vocalist and drummer in three albums for the band. These changes would prove to be the most important in the band's decision because it gave way for Matt Barlow to add his incredible vocal range on this record.

The Good:

Schaffer takes his songwriting to a whole new level on this record. Iced Earth had gone through some difficulties over the past 3 years, regarding differences with their label and between some band members which resulted in the angriest, the darkest and the heaviest songs that Schaffer has ever composed. Schaffer still maintains the beautiful acoustic sections and melody within the music though demonstrating his composing abilities further.

Matt Barlow is one of the best metal vocalists of all time. He immediately gave Iced Earth power, emotion, range, and variation that many vocalists can only dream of having. His voice added a new dimension to Iced Earth that took them from being a good band to an incredible one.

This is definitely the heaviest album in Iced Earth's discography. Burnt Offerings is a thrash metal album with some power metal tendencies. The amount of speed and aggression on this record is simply unmatched by other Iced Earth records.

The Bad:

There are no major weaknesses with this record.

Favorite Tracks:

Track 1: Burnt Offerings

I love the dark atmosphere of the track. It really sets the mood of the entire record. It begins with a slow and eerie opening, but soon completely changes tempo to a very thrash oriented sound. The vocals immediately stand out from previous albums with lower growl-like vocals and Barlow's powerful vocals. The riffs are fast paced when they need to be and slower during the more melodic parts. The track also utilizes acoustic passages to balance between the band's heaviness and melodious sound. The guitar solo is a welcome addition that only adds to an already brilliant opener.

Track 3: Diary

I love the heavy opening with its slow chugging guitar. It sets the dark tone of the entire track. The atmospheric element of this album is really what helps it stand out from other albums within the genre and there is no shortage of atmosphere on this track. I love the drumming on this track as well. Barlow's vocals are absolutely fantastic thanks to his utilization of different styles of vocals delivery. "Diary" is another standout from this fantastic record.

Track 6: Creator Failure

Barlow's voice is fantastic thanks to the power behind his brilliant delivery. The track changes pace and tone throughout its run-time. I love many of the different riffs that are utilized during the track as well as the fantastic guitar solos within the song. The song has such a fantastic mix of emotions between somber emotion and darker moods within its different sections. This is certainly one of Iced Earth's most unique tracks that they have ever written.

Track 8: Dante’s Inferno

"Dante's Inferno" is the band's most well-written song that they have ever composed. The song takes us through the Nine Planes of Hell for sixteen minutes, each plane has something new and demonic in store for the listener. Not only does this track contain terrific lyricism, it also contains an immense amount of well-written music. The song has a very unique song structure, contains many time changes, and has twists and turns at every corner. Schaffer proved that he is one of the greatest songwriters in metal history thanks to this terrific masterpiece. This is still the band's greatest composition to this day.

Rating Scale:

1: Garbage

1.5: Awful

2: Bad

2.5: Mixed

3: Decent

3.5: Good

4: Great

4.5: Excellent

5: Perfect


Burnt Offerings displays a large amount of heaviness, power, and emotion that many metal albums would be hard-pressed to achieve. The songwriting is as good as it gets in both the thrash and power metal genres and the performances from the members of the band are spectacular. Burnt Offerings is a true masterpiece that is basically perfect from beginning to end.


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13 Times 'Parks And Recreation' Accurately Described College Life

"I have no idea what I'm doing." - Andy (and probably many college students)

College is the time in everyone's life where you are partially an adult but not quite yet and each semester has it's same old ups and downs with lots of group suffering. From the dreaded finals to the excitement of breaks, here are just a few moments that almost happens every semester with a "Parks and Rec" GIF to illustrate.

1. Returning back to school

There's always excitement about going back to school and seeing friends again.

2. Figuring out your life

It seems like every semester, you have to really decide what you are planning to do in life. From your schedule and your major, to future job goals and internships, the beginning of the semester is when you start to plan what your next few months up to the next few years will be.

3. Partying

It's the start of the semester so the parties are starting up once again. As there are no tests and homework to worry about too much yet, you can party without realizing you forgot about a homework assignment.

4. First exam

Realizing that you didn't study as much as you should have is never a fond time and you remember that you have responsibilities again.

5. Trying to do homework

This is what getting that specific word count for that essay you really don't want to write feels like.

6. Midterms

So much stress.

7. Break (Thanksgiving or spring)

Going home is great because either you eat good home cooked meals or you go on a vacation but no matter what you get to relax. As long as you forget all about your upcoming assignments.

8. Returning from break


9. Group project

It always feels like one person does all of the work. And that person is probably you.

10. Procrastinating

Doing anything else is better than studying. Especially watching Netflix. You accomplish so much by procrastinating.

11. Questioning everything

Do you really want to major in Chemistry or do you want to quit college and become a flight attendant?

12. The beginning of finals week

The end is so close yet it feels so far away.

13. Completing your last final


Cover Image Credit: @parksandrecs

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