The D-List: March 23, 2015

The D-List

Coloring Science Fiction With Diversity

‘Fairytales were stories told largely by women talking to other women, which is why so many of them are about princesses. So I feel like story-telling and feminism just go hand-in-hand, and racial justice issues too. Because when we speak up for ourselves and about ourselves, and include ourselves in these fantastical worlds and visions of the future, we’re basically saying that we refuse to be erased, that we refuse to be silenced, we refuse to be squashed.’ Read more here.

The Nightly Show Aired A Beautiful Take-down of Trolls Who Can’t Stand Diversity in Comics

‘Nerds don’t have a problem with women,’ said host Larry Wilmore, ‘they have a problem with change.’ He then asked the panelists if the whiny manbabies of the internet are racist, sexist, or just gross gatekeeping nerds, to which Amanat replied, ‘All of the above.’ Read more here.

‘Bharat Babies’ Brings Indian Culture to American Children

As Sailaja Joshi was preparing for the birth of her first child, she had difficulty finding the right books for her child’s first library. Recalling all the wonderful stories her mother told her as a child, lush with the colors and characters of India, she did what any expectant mother would do for her child—she started her own publishing company, Bharat BabiesRead more here.

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing

This is the language of privilege – the audacity of standing at the top of a mountain you made on the backs of others and then yelling at people for being at the bottom. If it’s not the intangible Market that’s to blame, it’s the writers of color, who maybe don’t have what it takes and don’t submit enough anyway. Read the subtextual coding here – the agent first places the onus of change on the folks with the least institutional power to effect it, then suggests we probably won’t be able to find the time (i.e., lazy) to master the craft. Read more here.

 

 

The D-List: March 16, 2015

The D-List

 

Behind the Cover: Diversity in Publishing YA Fiction

When publishing companies relentlessly try to push millions of stories about the same types of people, not only are unique narratives suppressed, but the unpublished accounts of oppressed peoples will continue to go unnoticed, unread. The young, white, virginal, cisgender girl’s narrative becomes ubiquitous, when it should be one voice among many. Read more here.

The World of Children’s Books Is Still Very White

Advocates talk about the potential of kid lit to serve as both “windows” and “mirrors” — windows into life experiences of others and mirrors that reflect and affirm kids’ life experiences. When whole groups of people appear as stereotypes or not at all, all children lose out. Read more here.

UW survey shows uptick in diversity among books for children over the past year

The CCBC survey results demonstrate a slight uptick in the number of diverse books published in 2013-2014 in comparison to previous years, Shelley Diaz, senior editor of reviews for the School Library Journal, said. The amount is still dismal if the large racially diverse population present in the United States is taken into account, she said. Read more here.

Teen opinion: How books made me a feminist

The problem was that I spoke. I was not silent and submissive as we expect girls to be. I was loud, undeniably so, always expressing myself and demanding that I was listened to and my voice was not squashed simply because I was a girl. Read more here.

Black Authors and Self-Publishing

That the homogeneity of the publishing workforce matches the homogeneity of published authors and their books is no coincidence. The marginalization of writers of color is the result of very deliberate decisions made by gatekeepers within the children’s literature community—editors, agents, librarians, and reviewers. These decisions place insurmountable barriers in the path of far too many talented writers of color. Read more here.

 

The Problem is…Problematic

The social media kerfluffle (as defined by Justina Ireland) surrounding author Andrew Smith’s recent interview in Vice shows no signs of slowing down. Please take a moment to read it while I go start my dishwasher.

Even if you didn’t read it (and you really should), the article’s title, “The Failure of Male Societies: Author Andrew Smith Tackles Monsters and Sex” gives a Scooby Doo-sized clue that a discussion about gender is going to happen.

The article came to my attention when I noticed authors on Twitter discussing the persistent nature of the mythos that women are unknowable, confounding creatures that no one, particularly no man, should be forced to write about in any meaningful way. They discussed how little agency, dignity, and nuance is afforded women and girl characters, and the lack of leeway and forgiveness women authors experience when they act problematically or, yanno, like humans.

Maybe I’ve just gotten lucky or implemented my mute/block strategy too effectively but I didn’t see anyone in my corner of the interwebs malign Smith personally. This isn’t about his personality. If folks are dragging him on that, the point and their heads are irrevocably separated.

Nice people can, and often do, say problematic shit

Calling out offensive behavior doesn’t make a person a monster or untalented or unfit to live. It means someone’s concerned with what they’ve said or done. And they might not use the most polite language to express said concern. When I reach peak levels of pissivity, I don’t usually sip tea with my pinky out while expressing my frustrations in dulcet tones. Sometimes I get loud. Sometimes I cuss the house down. My reaction to the offense doesn’t make it any lesser or greater. It still remains.

This climate fosters problematic shit

The writing community likes believing it exists in a Utopian snow globe but it continuously struggles with addressing social justice productively, when it bothers addressing it at all. Discussions are derailed most often when critique falls upon high-profile authors, agents, and publishers, many of whom are predominantly white. As soon as anyone asks, “Is this really what I think it is?” armies descend from the skies, capes emblazoned with the We Need Diverse Books logo flapping in the breeze. “You’re misinterpreting things,” they say. “How dare you? Stop being mean!”

Well, damn. Apparently, some things are Too Big to Question. No wonder people don’t speak up, especially online. I mean, who wants to endure hordes of doxx-happy trolls and their co-signing lackeys or get accused of being a bully? I can even understand fearing the painful yet liberating sting of having your privilege publicly unpacked. But resting on its unearned laurels while others fight on the front lines, which ultimately benefits everyone, not only perpetuates oppression, it makes you complicit in it.

The industry, particularly the kidlit realm, insists marginalized voices count but some authors, agents, editors, and publishers refuse to listen. Even if could even make it through the gates, which is still very unlikely, why would I want them profiting from my labors? Why would I read or recommend their books? Why would I want them representing me?

If being part of this community means accepting that their comfort depends on my misery, it’s not the place for me.