Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Absence of Color

Check out Doret's rant/poem about the marginalization of authors of color at The HappyNappy Bookseller. I share Doret's frustration. I really want representatives of the publishing industry, members of major teen blogging sites and teens to explain to me why there is so little attention paid to writers of color. I want to know why the dominant culture thinks all readers can inject themselves into stories with white characters but many white readers reject books with black faces on the covers. And I say black in this instance because there seems to be greater crossover with Asian characters.

Not long ago, I shared in one of my meme posts, a book about a teen girl and the drama of getting the guy. Pretty standard storyline. I have seen a ton of reviews about this same kind of book promoted on teen blogs but not a single reader commented about this book and in my mind, I do think no one was interested because the characters were black.

Every book with people of color as main characters, isn't focused on race. Race may inform a read but even if race is central, why assume you can't relate? In the YA blogging community there is always talk about supporting authors: promoting their books and buying them. So where is the love for writers who don't look like the majority?

Please go by Doret's and comment. Doret reviews YA across the board which is why I love her blog. For YA, she is my first stop. I get the majority of my new YA reads from her blog. She reviews new releases and the not so new, children's and YA, and the authors are black, white, Latino, gay, heterosexual and every other theme you could be interested in. I find real diversity at The HappyNappy Bookseller. And that kind of diversity is sorely missing in the blogosphere.


Eva said...

You know, I just finished reading Cunt about a week ago, which was about how women are marginilised in our mainstream culture: the author had spent two years reading only books written by women, and I'm still tempted to do something similar (maybe for just six months).

And the problem's much worse for race differences than gender ones, obviously. I think it'd be awesome if you made a big reading list of great contemporary authors of colour: I promise I'd read from it and promote it as much as I could! I loved Woodson, who you recommended to me: I plan to get more of her from the library soon!

We could probably get an 'authors of colour' festival going on eventually too. Let's take some action! :)

susan said...

I'll see about doing another meme to compile a list. We have one that is a global list of women of color authors at Color Online. We'll talk more.

susan said...

90% of my reading is by women authors now and has been for years. Three years, I began reading YA. Still, mostly women. I have to remember to squeeze in literature.

Eva said...

I'm at about fifty-fifty right now; a few years ago, it was more like seventy-thirty in favour of men.

susan said...

I'd read more men but there is only so much time. Between YA and women writers, I need a recommendation or review to remind me I do like guys. The exception is Neil Gaiman. He's a new author for me and I love his style and he writes cool female leads.

Serena said...

I don't read a lot of YA, so I don't really feel qualified to comment about this topic. However, I am open to all books, no matter the race of the characters, though I tend to get books with more white characters from publishers to review. I haven't bought my own books in a long while, other than poetry.

I also want to note that writers of color are often marginalized in book stores. They have their own sections and those sections are usually not prominent in the store. I've read a few Zane books, though again, she's not YA and very racy sometimes. I'd like to broaden my reading, so if there are any books you recommend, please feel free to drop me an email.

Eva said...

Well, just let me know how I can help! I'm at between 400 and 500 viewers a day, so I've got an audience. :)

One thing about why authors of colour might not have as much representation in the blogosphere: I get a lot of e-mails about review copies, but I'm not sure I've ever gotten one from an author of colour. I'm not saying that's a good excuse or anything. Just putting it out there!

susan said...

Hi Eva, one easy and fun way to support our efforts to add color to readers' bookshelves is to promote and join us for Diversity Roll Call. We're experimenting with buttons so take your pick. Please participate in this meme and add a link on your page. Thanks.

Ali said...

Thanks for pointing me to Doret's post, Susan, I hadn't seen it yet.

Shalonda said...

I just read Doret's post and I agree there should be more diversity. However, Eva kind of hit it when she talked about publicity.

I buy almost all the books I have or I check them out of the library. Most YA bloggers because they are teens don't have the funds to purchase books, so they are limited to what they receive from publishers.

Right now the only YA books sent by the publishers that I can recall seeing on the blogs are Invisible Touch, Flygirl, Peace, Locomotion, and Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. Other than that, not a lot of authors of color or books with characters of color.

Earlier this week, I decided to start reviewing books by authors of color on a more consistent basis. After all, all the novels I use in my classroom (Monster, We Beat the Street, and The House on Mango Street) are all by authors of different cultural backgrounds. So definitely look to see more of these books on my blogs, but I don't think we are going to see them on many more until the publishers start getting the books into their hands.