Friday, August 12, 2016

Kerfuffles, TARDISes and Empty Seats

I recently got into the strangest fracas on Twitter about racism in publishing...where some diversity naysayers asked if I'd read conservative books (because, clearly, I'm biased against such things) and wondered who my favorite Supreme Court Justice is. Frankly, I have no idea what the latter has to do with publishing (it's Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because DUH), but the former is a more troubling query. Because, let's face it, given the literary canon according to schools and colleges, most of what we read is by right-leaning white authors. If anything, I'm making up for not reading lefties and social progressives for 22 years!

So, yeah, that was weird. Also weird was this idea that talking about the disparity in publishing means painting white people as racists. Because, as always, being called a racist is the terrible part. Not the inequality in the system. And it's such a clever, kneejerk-emotional way to distract from the actual topic. It centers the conversation back on white cishet folks instead of the work that still needs to be done to include everyone.

But here's what I really don't get about these perpetual kerfuffles: why asking people to read more is a bad thing. As I said on Twitter, so many people act like being told to diversify your reading is limiting. No, dude, it just means more awesome books. The capacity to devour stories is infinite. It's like a TARDIS. There's plenty of room in there. You can read dead white guys, living white ladies, and POC. That's all that's being said. I mean, I love to read. I've been binge-reading to shut out the world, and I flow from one text to the next. Paul Tremblay to Sonali Dev to Sherry Thomas to Sabaa Tahir to Amanda Bouchet. It's "and" not "instead of."

No one is forcing medicine down your throat. Like I've said many times before, POC aren't kale. We're not some new health trend. We've always been here. The Mahabharata is estimated to date back to the 8th or 9th Century BCE. The Epic of Gilgamesh is dated around 2100 BCE. I could go on. But, basically, POC were spinning stories while paler folks were still scribbling in the dirt. So don't pretend you were here first. You just built the modern stadium, the modern playing field, and then put us in the parking lot...not realizing that there's plenty of room in that stadium. Tons of seats left to fill.

Am I mixing my metaphors? I might be mixing my metaphors.

Stop being weird, people. Just read more goddamn books.


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