Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why "I Don't See An Author's Race" Is BS

DescriptionL A young white man and a young black woman are facing one another, with the white man covering the black woman's eyes and the black woman covering the white man's eyes, preventing them from seeing each other.

Tumblr user theawesomersace (whom you might also know as part of The Awesome Sauce on BookRiot) discovered something interesting recently after two similar tweets were responded to in very different ways. The first tweet simply asked their followers to name their favorite science fiction or fantasy author of color. Later in the afternoon, they asked twitter to name their favorite white science fiction and fantasy authors, and the responses she got this time were altogether different and unexpected:
Some people thought I was being sarcastic. Others said that is was a terrible way to label an author. "I hope I’m never labeled that way"... “I don’t see color," "I just read good books," "I don’t know what color my favorite authors are," "What does an author’s race have to do with anything?...  people either didn’t like me labeling white authors as white or they thought race was unimportant when discussing authors or they didn’t like having to admit that they had a favorite white author.
I remember a bunch of similar responses a few years ago, when during the usual pre-game banter in my gaming group, I mentioned I noticed I hadn't been reading any authors of color without even realizing it, so I went looking for some and found some really great fantasy and sci-fi! Before I could even begin to talk about books themselves, others in my group (all white) had pretty much the same reaction. I see it all too often in discussing race in creative works, and I used to believe it too: "Oh, I just read stuff. I don't notice race. I'm colorblind."

They put forth the idea that this ideal that isn't really ideal is present in society at large which is why it "... so heavily influences our current publishing climate, is the belief that by default an author is white unless otherwise specified [and] why authors of color are shunted off to imprints and shelves marked "Certain Marginalized Group" Literature and why discussions of “quality” and “taste” center around a white, masculine narrative.  This is the key to why representation within publishing is so dismal: there are (white) authors and then there are all of the other special categories. And when we’ve checked a box in one of those other special categories, we’re done.

To be colorblind at this moment means that you aren’t willing to take any of that background into account when choosing something to read... White is not the default. And we all need to work better to make sure that is reflected in the media we consume. "

So, readers, what are your thoughts? What are you doing in your nedia and reading habits to change things, even if just for yourselves?

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