Reading Diversely in 2017
And kinda failing at that in 2016…
Partway through 2016, a coworker of mine wrote an article in a newsletter about the lack of diversity and lack of exposure for authors of colour in the publishing industry and what libraries can do to promote diverse reading. I took at look at my reading stats thus far in Goodreads and it was a lot of white folks. So, for the remaining 6 months I tried to include diverse authors and topics to my reading list. All categories are out of 45, the amount of books I read this year. Here’s how it shook out over 12 months (sorted from most read to least read):
Diverse Authors and Topics
- Cis Female: 30/45
- Cis Male: 12/45
- LGBTQ+: 3/45
- Brown: 3/45
- Asian: 2/45
- Indigenous: 1/45
- Black: 0/45
- Non-fiction: 19/45
- Fiction: 10/45
- Memoirs: 8/45
- Cookbooks: 4/45
Note: I’m using very plain language about race because I found this is the easiest way to sift through the lack of diversity in my reading this year. I hope this isn’t interpreted as offensive. Sometimes I feel ‘politically correct’ language prevents us from having an informal and thoughtful discussion about diversity. I did some research into respectful language to use from Grammarist and educational resources on gender that you can check out to see where I was coming from.
So, ya. I read 40 white people and 5 of other ethnicities. Ugh, I’m so disappointed. I expected that I had a discerning eye of my own habits and bias to be able to pick different books. After I saw my statistics midway through the year, it appears I do not. Is this my fault or does this say something about what is published and marketed in book stores, websites, and newspapers? Most likely both. I feel that marketing for white writers is on a different scale compared to writers of colour; largely because advertising firms still feel that white is the norm (which, of course, we know is not the case and thank goodness for that). Aziz Ansari, one of my favourite writers/actors, said this in a recent New York Times article, Asian-American Actors Are Fighting for Visibility. They Will Not Be Ignored:
“Everyone seems to be becoming slowly aware of how overwhelmingly white everything is,” Mr. Ansari said. “It’s almost like the whole system is slowly being shamed into diversity, but it’s moving at a snail’s pace.” He added: “Just look at the movie posters you see. It’s all white people.”
Have you seen Master of None?! It’s the best TV sitcom I’ve seen since Arrested Development.
But there’s hope! I think if a curious person goes searching, they can find other perspectives through websites, blogs, the library, etc. In fact, I think to be a responsible citizen nowadays dealing with fake news and targeted marketing through social media based on our demographics, it is vital for all of us to seek out opinions and experiences different from our own. There hasn’t been a time in history where exploring new points of view has been easier. I’m making it a priority for 2017, especially with the current shift in global politics and whatever is going on in the United States with Donald Trump. I’m really happy with the amount and quality of books I read this year but I feel what I read was really one-sided on the white, feminist woman front.
I did expand my horizons with podcasts this year and here are some of my favourites. I’m thrilled with the diversity in podcast world and the amazing quality of the radio-narrative format.
Here’s my game plan for #DiverseReads2017 (I’ll keep track of this on my instagram and goodreads):
- Prepare for my upcoming trip to Japan by reading Japanese authors and history.
- Read Black authors for Black History Month in February.
- Read a book from a transgendered point of view.
- Read multiple works by Canadian Indigenous authors.
- Get my literary fiction on with stories from all over the world!
- Read works of non-fiction written by a person of colour.
If you want to join me online, tag me on instagram or twitter and use the hashtag to share your titles. Or, leave a title suggestion in the comments below :)