#raceand: arielle newton

It always pisses me off amazes me when people demand you compartmentalize aspects of identity to make them comfortable. Here’s a brief free education on why that’s actually impossible, it’s shitty of you to expect and/or request this, and it’s something you need to stop doing ASAP.

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The Last Gasp of the Irrelevant

Y’all, I’m pretty proud of the timeline I’ve curated on Twitter. This week it delivered in real time shredded-sackcloth couturier Kanye West demonstrating that reading will forever be fundamental and how he needs to let go and let God and keep Amber Rose’s name out of his mouth. Her Mortal Kombat-style FATALITY still has me gasping for air. EDIT: He’s still talking.

[BONUS: Watch a Shakespearean actor read Kanye’s tweets. You’re welcome.]

But unfortunately, humpday Twitter also brought a fresh round of bookworld nonsense that I didn’t have nearly enough spoons in the dishwasher basket for.

Backstory here.

What I pictured as I read it:

"I will NOT decenter Whiteness! Je refuse!"
“I will NOT decenter Whiteness! Je refuse!”

My reaction:

Y’all. I’m tired. So, so tired. Ti. RED.

Like, I can’t even explain the levels of exhaustion.

That post had the nerve to have a We Need Diverse Romance pic beside it while claiming it’s A-OK for readers to stay in their “comfort zones” and never read books that might have characters that are gay or black or — heaven forbid — both in them because they’re, I dunno, squicky or something.

The alabaster audacity of it all! That woman’s reviewing in Kirkus. That woman wields serious power and she’s basically calling another author out by name, out of alllll the other commenters on her previous post, in the guise of responding to “eloquent” criticism, but it reads like a passive-aggressive takedown, simply because that author challenged her precious worldview.

And said response? Racist gar-BAHGE. Yet folks continue to let her (and others, truth be told) cook, admonishing anyone who disagrees with “be nice.” Because that’s how it’s always been: Tone policing 101. Calm down, you “others.” We run this.

Despite claims to the contrary, people like this aren’t interested in “diverse” anything. They regurgitate what they data-mine from those actually doing inclusion work and/or write harmful depictions that earn beaucoup accolades and rewards (“Oh, how brave! Here’s a six-figure deal!”) while not actually doing a daggone thing to affect positive representation in the industry.

Because doing so involves sacrifice, generosity, and a crapton of guts. And people like that post’s writer aren’t about to risk comfy positions, sales margins, and fanbase for anything or anybody. They sure as hell don’t want to actually have to work harder or make room. But keep on telling us that you “support diversity.”

Oh, bihh.

The jig is STRATOSPHERIC. This is so ridiculous, it’s almost funny. It’s truly theater, how these “nice” people perform diversity, as long as it doesn’t threaten them in any way, shape, or form. They may even represent marginalized communities, but somehow at least one nasty -ism always manages to trump all.

Here’s what’s painfully clear: many in the lit community agree with that post’s writer, either outwardly or via their silence when someone speaks on it and gets heaping helpings of abuse.

Either way, thanks for revealing yourselves. It would be cool if you were on our team. Better together and whatnot. But we see you. And we’re moving around.

Because guess what? This whole “minority” business? That’s a fallacy. Do the math. Collectively, globally, we’ve got the numbers. And we’re not here to assuage your guilt. We’re not here to make you look good. We’re definitely not here to serve you cookies.

We’re here to do good work. We’re here to make a living.

And we’re not going away.

 

 

New Year, New Reading

 

readingintersectionally

Last year’s reading goal (50 books) was a bit of a wash. I set it lower than the year before and fell short but it was mainly due to the large amount of writing I did, so I don’t feel too badly about that. However, when I reviewed the books I read I was dismayed. I definitely enjoyed them but they were overwhelmingly homogeneous: cishet white women writing about cishet white folks. And I was actively reading more widely.

Dammit, Publishing. we gotta talk but I don’t have time today…

So inspired by Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, Kelly Jensen’s Stacked post,“Intentional Reading”, and author Justina Ireland’s Twitter call-to-action #laydeezfirst, my 2016 reads will primarily be stories authored by women of color featuring characters of color and a whole lotta intersectionality. (subscribers click through to the post to view video)

Inevitably, some may want to know why I’m doing this. My instinct is to answer, “Because I’m grown and I read what I want” but here’s why:

  • I want to support women of color, elevate our voices, share our stories, and learn from them.
  • I want to promote women-centered spaces where the creativity of women of color is celebrated, nurtured, and embraced (and as an aside, men–or their “allies”–who force their way into those spaces and/or insist they be gender neutral are on some misogynistic, patriarchal fuckshit).
  • Stories featuring the same old same old are dull as dishwater. People have layers and levels beyond Sassy Black Best Friend and Sad Gay Sidekick and I want to see that on the page.

There will inevitably be exceptions for various reasons (see: I’m grown) but basically dassit. Happy reading, y’all!