This is the cast of the hit TV comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine:
It is a well-rounded cast. The characters are different people with different dreams and goals and personalities and priorities, and they work together.
These two are Amy Santiago and Rosa Diaz, two Latina women:
Although they are both Latina women, they are very different characters. Amy is a nerdy, easily-excited perfectionist and Rosa is a blunt, tough-as-nails badass.
If I were to ask “what’s your opinion of the Latina character on Brooklyn Nine Nine”, you would have to respond with “which one?”.
These two are Captain Raymond Holt and Terry Jeffords, two black men:
Although they are both black men, they are very different characters. Captain Holt is strict and humourless, Terry is a musclebound teddy bear.
If I were to ask “what’s your opinion of the black man on Brooklyn Nine Nine”, you would have to respond with “which one?”.
A lot of people don’t like “tokenism” in fiction. And, it’s true, if you’re adding in a black character just for the sake of representing all black people in your fiction, it can be an example of poor writing.
But, when you watch Brooklyn Nine Nine, none of the characters above feel like token characters.
Now, if I were to remove Amy Santiago from the show, many people might think of Rosa as the token Latina. And, as the only Latina, many people might think that she was there to represent all Latina women. They might say “Is that really what you think all Latina women are like? That they all wear leather jackets and grunt in monosyllables and beat people senseless? What a terrible stereotype!”
If I were to remove Captain Holt from the show, many people might think of Terry as the token black man. And, as the only black man, many people might think that he was there to represent all black men. They might say “Is that really what you think all black men are like? That they’re all vain, overmuscled behemoths, tamed into domesticity? What a terrible stereotype!”.
It is precisely because the show features multiple examples of each of these demographics that they escape stereotyping. If you see one Latina woman who exhibits aggressive traits, you might think that all Latina women have anger management problems. If you see two Latina women, though, and one is aggressive and the other isn’t, you would not reach that conclusion. It would be impossible for someone to watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine and come away thinking “ah yes, now I know what all Latina women are like” or “ah yes, now I know what all black men are like”.
It is fine not to approve of tokenism in fiction. It’s fine! Including a character purely to check that character’s ethnicity or gender or disability or sexuality off of a checklist can be terrible writing. Token characters can perpetuate negative stereotypes, or even help to create new ones.
But, if you don’t like token characters, the answer isn’t less diversity.