Yes, We Need Diverse Books, You Idiot

diverse readathon

In case you haven’t heard, there was a video put up this week on Youtube by what I can only assume is a very badly informed person claiming Diversity is the worst word in the world and that we don’t need diverse books because all this “diversity” does exactly what the sexists and racists want: To put people into boxes and label them. Then there was a bunch of ill-informed blather about war, violence, and how we’re all tribal and blah blah blah blah, none of which has anything to do with representation, since the person doing the bitching is a WHITE PERSON and is already represented, so how the fuck does she know what representation means to people who are NOT CURRENTLY BEING REPRESENTED? And no, I won’t be linking to the video or mentioning the name of the person who uploaded it.

Oh my God.

Oh. My. God.

Please understand that I am also an idiot. I’m shit at expressing myself when it comes to things that get me very emotional, especially things that frustrate me. What a great quality in a writer, huh? And I am not perfect. I am not claiming to be some well-informed, enlightened sociologist with has a grip on every facet of diverse interaction in our modern society.

I defended Paula Dean, for fuck’s sake.

Yeah. I did. Before I had read everything about that fiasco with the wedding and all the crazy shit she said – She used to say all the time on her show that her best friend was a black woman that ran her restaurant. I couldn’t believe Paula Dean could be a backwards idiot racist. And then she opened her mouth.

So I defended a person who used the “I can’t be a racist, I’m friends with a black person” defense, before I hadn’t read everything going around. Before I had looked into it and had a little more background information, I opened my stupid white mouth and gave an opinion when I should have stood aside and shut the fuck up. People unfollowed me on Twitter. I don’t blame them.

Current-me would have unfollowed past-me on Twitter.

But I think, thanks to the internet, I’ve learned a lot. I am still not someone you come to for informed discourse, but I’ve tried to be a little more circumspect (even tho I made an ass of myself about Lena Dunham just recently – Oh shit, I forgot about that.) I try to keep my mouth shut more, and listen to the people who know what they’re talking about.

But one thing I know. Saying that diversity in books is bad is just plain backwards. As a cis het white person, you can go into any book store, movie theatre,  you can turn on the tv and see yourself all over the place. Want to get something published/produced/recorded/made for mass consumption? Well, if you’re a white person and your cast/crew is cis het white, congratulations! The deck is stacked in your favor! Hollywood takes culturally based stories from across the globe and fills them with white people and sells it to the masses, again and again and again. And all the people from those nationalities/countries are like ?????? wtf are you doing??? It’s not like they don’t know what they are doing and why they are doing it. It’s systemic racism, it’s based on flawed logic (I mean come on – look at Hamilton. Written/produced/acted by POC and it’s an enormous critically acclaimed HIT. It’s tearing up Broadway and will tear up the world when it goes on the road. Where is your logic now, Hollywood?)

I may have lost the stream…. but the good thing about this crazy video and the uproar it has created is that some people have decided to start #Diverseathon, a readathon where we read and discuss diverse books. That’s what I’m trying to get at here. Please follow all these ladies on Youtube and Twitter.  I’m really looking forward to this.

diverseathon

So the above photo (the one at the very top) is my TBR. It’s very ambitious, considering I’ve been reading 5 books a month, in a good month. But these are kind of short and I am going to try and go full-on-warrior-woman-reading-psycho and really prioritize reading. I just had a convo with someone the other day about how I am trying to read my current TBR, the stuff that is on my shelf already, and I feel bad there isn’t more diversity there. Then this shitstorm happened… and I realize –  if I think diversity is important, then I have to support diverse books. I need to read and review them. So I need to do it. I need to put my actions where my conscience is. So I am totally going to join this readathon, and make a conscious choice to include more diverse books. I do have diverse books on my shelves already – and I need to prioritize them, and use the library to get more of them.

Here are the books:

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu: might be the one I don’t get to… but this is a sci fi best-seller from China, set in Beijing.

Beloved by Toni Morrison: This is the first one I’m going to read. It’s a ghosty story about a former slave named Sethe and dealing with her dark past. I have seen the movie, which I really loved, and I’m excited to read it.

Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng: This is about a Chinese American family in Ohio, dealing with the death of their daughter and family secrets.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker: I haven’t read this since high school, so I really feel this will be like reading it for the first time. Set in the 30’s, this is an epistolary novel about Celie, a black girl who has been sexually and physically abused. It is very controversial for the portrayal of graphic violence and no doubt, the relationship between Celie and another woman.

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote: I wasn’t sure about including this one. I was going to try and stay away from white Americans in my TBR, but I really want to reread this. I know I didn’t get everything out of it I could have on the first go round. I’m a different reader than I was then. This is about a teenage boy who has lost his mother going to live with his father and dealing with his sexuality.

I’m looking forward to this readathon. Tell me your thoughts. I hope you don’t hate me for my own revelations of stupidity, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m rather forthright and I’m not perfect, I’m not going to pretend I am. I know the internet doesn’t believe apologies but believe me  – I’m trying to be a better human.

 

 

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