2020 Reading Rush ~ Performative Diversity


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. 

5 thoughts on “2020 Reading Rush ~ Performative Diversity

  1. Interesting. I don’t take part in these readathons because my dyslexia means I’m a slow reader, so I can never keep up. That said, while I don’t go looking for books on diverse subjects or by diverse authors, I also don’t discount them because of these things. I prefer to read the genres I enjoy the most, and if the subject matter or the author is from a diverse community, then that’s great – added bonus, if you will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,
      I’m wondering what your favorite genres are? I’m sure there’s plenty of diverse books in it, but they tend to be underhyped because publishers invest less money in it. So if you don’t put in the effort to find them, you miss out on great books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did a whole post about if I’m a racist reader. See, I read primarily adult, literary fiction – mostly historical fiction, but some contemporary as well. I particularly enjoy women’s fiction and biographical fiction. Now, what I’m seeing is a whole lot of YA books, that seem to be either romance or fantasy novels coming out of these diverse communities. I don’t like fantasy at ALL, not even the tamer magical realism stuff, and romance makes me cringe. So every time I see a review of a book from a diverse author I think – oh, this might be good and then one of those things pop up and I get turned off. However, I actually just ordered a book published in the 1920s that sounds really great, and after I bought it I found out that the author is a woman of color! Aside from that (and I know this sounds terrible, but) one of my favorite authors is gay – Patrick Gale. When I fell in love with his writing I had no idea he was gay. He didn’t write it into his earlier works, but lately he has been, and I love these as much as the older ones. Maybe it is the newer diverse authors that are writing in genre fiction that I don’t care for, so I’ll look for the older authors instead who wrote literary fiction.


      2. I totally don’t like fantasy or romance either! When you mentioned literary fiction I immediately thought of Patsy. It’s sort of a complicated story about motherhood told from both the mother and child.
        I do see a lot more push for diversity in YA than in other categories, probably because it’s popular and has the most incoming writers.

        Liked by 1 person

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