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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Must Read Article for All

Today my friend and colleague Anna shared this article on Twitter via Buzz Feed:
Meet The Black Women Upending The Romance Novel Industry : A trio of black women at Kensington Publishing is challenging the old, predominantly white narratives of who gets to fall in love.
I read this entire article. I suggest you take the time too. It is an honest and frank look at how one publisher took the call for more diverse romance titles seriously. They did not simply pay lip service to the problem nor did they simply throw black characters into existing stories, rather, they addressed the issue from every facet of the business-- even how they art direct the covers.

I am not spoiling this or giving you an excuse not to read it. Go and read it. Don't worry, I'll be here when you get back.

This article is eye opening, even to someone like me who goes out of her way to discover new voices by people who look different than me and who experience life from a different perspective than I do.

And here is the thing, while the focus here is on "romance," the lessons we take away are for all books.

This article is for all of my readers who are struggling to get their libraries to add more diverse books and especially for your co-workers who don't think diverse books are for them or your patrons.

I wrote about this problem last month in my tough love Call to Action about how curating and promoting diverse collections is one of our core duties. The numerous responses I got back from library workers who have tried to beat this drum at their libraries and were not only thwarted, but in some cases ridiculed, was heartbreaking. 

I know from experience, I know from hearing back from many of you, I know that this article is for everyone who is working with books and readers. Everyone [period].

And as a footnote, to those of you who are still shaking your head at me saying that your collection is doing just fine being all white and hetero [I know you are out there because I see you everywhere and some of you email me too], well today Romance Times did this:

Link to tweet

That's right, a "black" book is the romance of the year. Wow and a few weeks ago the Pulitzer went to a "gay" novel. 

Hmmm maybe, just maybe we should all realize that these are OUR best books and they showcase how diverse OUR world truly is, no matter where you live. These are "best" books for all readers, no matter who you are.

Now in these two specific cases, you may not enjoy either based on your preferences in regards to genre, but I promise you it won't be because the characters are "different" or the writing is subpar, no matter how hard you try and look. [Teaser, that's one of my favorite parts of the article, when racist readers look for misplaced commas in Cole's books because they can't find anything else wrong with them.]

Read the article and pass it on.

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