In which I realize I do not read diversely. It’s embarrassing to say the least.
Last week, Tqwana published her update on her Diverse Books Pledge. She had originally suggested we write the post together, but I had a very troubling realization, I had only read one book that qualified (in my mind) as diverse. My goal is 15 books (0ut of my 50 total for the year), which I thought was a respectable amount. I also mistakenly assumed I would gravitate toward the types of books that qualified as diverse. Not only is that false, but I’m mostly gravitating toward books by older white men–not even women!! I feel like I’ve betrayed myself.
My issue does not solely lie with the realization that I’m not trying hard enough to read diversely, it’s also the fact that my main form of getting book recommendations is through channels which are reserved for traditional publishing, which has still not fully understood their own pledge of #WeNeedDiverseBooks that we had preached about last year. We’ve all been failing. Tqwana nailed it in this previous post. I subscribe to newsletters, follow publishers on Twitter, go to industry events, but what they all have in common is a promotion of writers who are anything but diverse (But what’s my REAL motivation for wanting to read City on Fire??? I have a feeling it’s just been the incessant promotion). Where I am finding diverse writers is from following authors on Twitter and finding out what they are reading (and basically anything Tqwana recommends). It’s not a perfect system, but it works to broaden my scope of what I think is good.
So with this realization in mind, I will try to only read books by women, POC, protagonists that qualify as diverse for whatever aspect (for example, LGBTQ+), and generally anything that’s not by a white male for the rest of the year –to fulfill my goal and hopefully get me in the habit of choosing diverse books. (There are plenty of books that I still want to read by men, but they will be there later. I am not saying that white men are bad writers, but that there are also other good writers that I need to give attention to–who deserve attention.) I need to focus and give precedence to those that do not usually get precedence in publishing.
We live in a world that has a plethora of interesting people, we live in a world that has many different types of people, but the publishing industry fails to see any of them, in favor of only looking toward the white male gaze of the story. That is not the only perspective we should be drawing from to understand our experiences. It’s taken me a long time to realize that.