I am so tired.
To recap, there was a little-promoted group book for The Reading Rush. Such A Fun Age is about a Black babysitter who is stopped by a security guard and accused of kidnapping the white child. During the liveshow for this book, neither of the hosts had read it, laughed it off, and talked about other things.
The reading community disappoints me often. This will not make me stop reading or blogging. Because I know I am one of very few people who reads exclusively diverse books. of course, there is a niche community of queer, poc, and/or disabled readers. But typically, the most mainstream content creators are white, cishet, abled, and have the money for a lot of books.
Usually my reaction to these things is to simply uplift diverse voices by retweeting marginalized voices who can phrase it better than I can. I will continue to do so, but it’s not enough.
Performative diversity hurts everyone. Performative diversity is basically “The Checklist”- buying one book by a marginalized author whenever a current event like the murder of Breonna Taylor happens. And never reading the book or even holding the book on social media without seriously considering it beyond the post.
I believe that reading diverse books should be a daily lifetime effort. Take the time to curate your space so that you are hearing about these books. Look through the Enby Book Tag and The Black Booktuber Tag and find voices that you connect with.
I personally am considering something like a Stonewall Readathon. Maybe that’s already a thing. But I feel like readathons are also checklists, so if I gave you prompts like “read a book by a Black trans author” or “read a queer book that came out before 2015,” it would be in good spirit, but still putting queerness and diverse representation into boxes.
But the best thing about readathons is the community. How do we create that same hypersense of community while respecting diverse voices? There is the Here & Queerathon by The Cotton Candy Book Witch. I only recently found out about this, but it is yearlong- the entirety of 2020. It is very low-key and more about promoting queer books than challenging yourself to read off of specific prompts.
The problem here in particular is not listening to Black voices, Black authors, and Black books. I realize that by deflecting into queerness, I made myself more comfortable than talking about a topic that I’m no expert in.
@dablackhotties on twitter is an expert in it, and if you’ve read Such A Fun Age, it is their August book.
This conversation will never be over. Everyone needs to spend time reading, listening, thinking about and acting for people who are different than you. You need to consider if a deaf person can access this media, if a Black person is being listened to, if a queer person’s identity is accepted without question.
And I truly believe that to have empathy for others, you have to read their stories. I know a lot of people love fantasy, but there needs to be more enthusiasm for contemporary books that reflect real-life experiences. And yes, The Hate U Give is a powerful book. But it’s not the only Black book.
Well, thank you for reading. I hope I was coherent enough to inspire some thought or gave you new information.