I’m so honoured to feature #WeNeedDiverseBlogs and the creator of the awesome hashtag/Twitter chat Nicole Brinkley! Nicole was kind enough to write a guest post for the blog AND let me partner with her for tonight’s twitter chat! Join us at 8pm EST using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBlogs and we can discuss blog features and diversity. (Hope to see you all there!) And now without further preamble, here it is:
Nicole Brinkley has short hair and a love of dragons. The rest changes without notice. She is the editor of YA Interrobang and a professional bookseller.
Why we need diverse blogs
A guest post by Nicole Brinkley
We need diverse blogs.
Here, I’m using diverse because it’s the buzzword that’s become associated with the recent movement to change the current landscape of publishing – a landscape that is largely white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, Catholic or agnostic. But no single person – author, blogger, reader – is diverse. Diverse is what happens when people from a huge variety of backgrounds come together, mixing a variety of ideas and cultures and points-of-view unique to each individual person.
What I mean when I say that we need diverse blogs is two things: we need a wider range of bloggers (and to support those bloggers); and we need a wide range of books covered in the blogs that currently existed.
There are many, many bloggers that come from marginalized backgrounds that already exist. I’m friends with many of them. They’re Jewish, Muslim, queer, disabled, black, Indian, transgender, gender-fluid. And while I’d love to see more bloggers – especially young bloggers – of marginalized backgrounds join the YA world, it’s not like we can strongarm new bloggers into joining. But what we can do is support those bloggers that already exist.
It’s not always easy for bloggers of marginalized backgrounds. I’m cisgender, white, skinny, agnostic, and while I’m on the asexual spectrum, it’s not something I actively and often talk about, and so I’m not particularly bothered for it. But I’ve seen hate slung at others, even when we’re saying the same things at the same time. They’re stalked, harassed, sent pictures of butchered women or sent death threats to the point where they need to lock down their accounts – for saying the same thing I am at the same exact time. It’s not a coincidence.
And even if they’re not getting hate, they’re getting microaggressions – questions about their background, what they can do, comments about stereotypes of their people, what they can say, from people who should be their friends and support them.
We need them in our blogosphere – and not just because they’re amazing people, who I love and adore. But if we are all from the same backgrounds, with the same opinions, and the same point-of-view, what’s the point of having a blogosphere? They also are in the unique position to be able to know when titles about marginalized people of the same background are problematic, though they’re often called out and yelled at for sharing their opinion.
We need them. And we need to support them. Because they’re great people, great bloggers, and bring perspectives to an industry that is largely as glistening white as snow and as straight as a ruler.
And this is also something to consider when we talk about ‘diverse’ books, or books about characters from marginalized backgrounds, on our own blogs. Yes, it’s important to cover them, but what are we covering?
A good chunk of the ‘diverse’ titles being pushed right now are still titles from cisgender, white, straight authors. Authors of color, queer authors, disabled authors – they’re still, for the most part, not the ones getting the marketing budget. We need to do our research, to find those books (which are still fantastic, just lost in the marketing puddle) and feature them on our sites.
And when it comes to the titles we’re featuring, it becomes important to call out the bad stuff – and to support the bloggers from those backgrounds who are calling out those problems. Because of the experiences in my life, I might not be able to see if something is poor representation of Muslim culture or microaggressive against the black community, but there are bloggers who can, and who do, and who call them out. We should support those voices, acknowledge those things in our feature, and link to those who know better than we do to call them out.
We need diverse books. We need diverse bloggers. We need diverse blogs.
And we need to work to achieve those goals. The ball is in our court. Publishing doesn’t have to change. We will keep getting the same books about the same types of characters if somebody doesn’t push for change.
We have that power. We should use it to support diverse books and bloggers alike.
Want to talk more about featuring diverse titles on your blog? Join Shelly and I tonight at 8 pm EST on Twitter in this month’s #weneeddiverseblogs chat! See you there!