Diversity in Publishing Matters (Whether You Like It Or Not)

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There has been so much talk about diversity in reading these days, and a surprising amount of aversion to it, which shows that this needs to be an ongoing conversation. This is going to be a very frank, very not-politically-correct post; gird your loins or don’t read at all.

A.) WHO CARES if anyone is trying to be politically correct by reading diversely? (This seems to be the loudest argument against it.) Who cares, who cares, who cares?

B.) Not all people are reading diversely to be politically correct.

C.) Many people who are making noise about it are reading diversely in an effort to give authors of color a better chance of being published.

D.) You don’t have to read diversely to give authors of color a better chance of being published… no one has any control over your book spending habits. If you feel offended or upset, blame your conscience, not your Internet screen.

E.) Buying books from authors of color (and women) sends a monetary message to the publishing industry (which is, by the way, a business – not a magical art-making unicorn) to publish more of these authors, thereby giving readers more of a variety of authors to choose from. In other words, one doesn’t buy Poland Spring bottled water when they live in California, not necessarily because they think Arrowhead is better but rather because we don’t have Poland Spring bottled water. Put an abundance of it in our grocery stores and you’ll see more people buying it.

F.) Having a group of people be very opinionated about something that seems like an agenda to promote something that you are not interested in (in this case, equality) can be annoying and uncomfortable. You know what else would have been uncomfortable and annoying? Separate drinking fountains forever. Equality levels in art and culture reflect equality in society. If you don’t think that’s true, you aren’t paying attention.

G.) You don’t get why this is such a big deal? That’s because you don’t have to. Thank your lucky stars and realize that means you are part of a privileged group (and whether or not you take offense to that doesn’t change that it is true).

Who am I to speak about this topic? I am the person who needs these types of posts. The one who, when colleagues and others in the publishing world started talking about this, rolled her eyes thinking… here we go, white people are BAD, anyone with any privilege is EVIL, let’s all pretend we read diversely so that we can be better than everyone else (yes, I can be that big of an asshole… you’re over it, let’s keep going). And I won’t lie – there is part of me that still feels that way; I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it… and I don’t want to have to think much about it. But I’m going to because it’s the right thing to do, period. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, so I’ll annoy myself, and challenge myself, and make myself uncomfortable just to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Do what you want with this, but please… stop acting like it isn’t an issue, it highlights your ignorance.

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