Dear White People: I’m Taking a Break From Your Books

For a completely unsorted and unsearchable list you can check out this Minority Authors list on Goodreads.

Update April 2016: I just discovered this list of books via the Chasing Faerytales #DiverseBooks2016 challenge. 

Update May 2016: Another awesome list of books written by people of color (#50booksbyPOC) and specifically of books by women of color (#50booksbyWOC) both provided by Victoria Law.

This year, I’ve pledged not to read fiction written by white people.

I was inspired by an article I came across in the Washington Post by Sunili Govinnage.  For a year she only read books by racial and ethnic minority authors.  She reflects on how difficult it was just to find lists of books written by minority authors and why this may have been so.  The wheels in my mind started turning.

I love to read.  There’s nothing like a novel for me.  I crave that feeling of being transported to another place or time, into someone else’s life or mind. I experience a rare sense of wholeness and flow. But apparently my literary flow has been whitewashed. Where are the diverse voices that are supposed to be giving me all of the gifts of literature?

As a woman of color who harbors a not-so-secret fantasy of life as an author, I felt the need to do something.  I need to choose to change.

Look, it isn’t like I want to have to seek out ethnic and racial minority authors or that it wouldn’t be nice to be colorblind and say, “I just want to read the best book on that topic.”  But if I become colorblind I’m certain it will become even harder to see myself.

I don’t want to be invisible.

We all know the reality.  For a host of social, economic and political reasons if I just Google a book  genre, 9 times out of 10 (or even 99 out of 100 in some areas) the search engine will spit out the works of white authors without so much as a tan in sight.  Is what white people have to say more valid? More accurate? More real? More relatable? Even if that were true (it isn’t) shouldn’t I be given a choice?

No individual can speak for all of the experiences of the group and no ethnic or racial minority group is monolithic.  We need a greater diversity of voices.

Often people of color are told they cannot be used on covers or in starring roles because white audiences may not find them relatable.  Yet, I’m not supposed to complain if I cannot find someone to represent me in the vast sea of characters in the literature of my life?

C’mon, son!

To take it a step further, rather than going to library for all of my books, I’m going to actually buy the best ones that I come across because I want to support greater diversity in literature.

Everyone deserves a chance to speak.  We should all be discerning when choosing whether to listen.



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