Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for some time might remember that in 2015 I co-ran a reading project / campaign called Diverse December. Well, it’s happening again this year and I would love you to join in.
#DiverseDecember is a month of reading and recommending books by Black, brown and indigenous writers. It is an opportunity to discover new books, to consider our reading habits and to make a permanent change in what we choose to read.
The campaign was created in 2015 by Dan Lipscombe in response to an all-white list for World Book Night. This year, I’m running it in reaction to the pledges many of us made to do better following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
How do you join in? Read and recommend at least one book by a Black, brown or indigenous writer during December. Use the hashtag #DiverseDecember so your recommendations can be seen and shared.
You can also follow the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. On those channels, over the next week, I’ll be highlighting some of the publishers, organisations and individuals who’ve been doing this work for some time. Follow, listen, support them.
Why are you – a white person – running this?
Because I don’t believe that the burden of encouraging white people to read books by Black, brown and indigenous writers should keep falling on Black, brown and indigenous people. Because I love books and want to shout about all the superb ones by Black, brown and indigenous writers. If you’re not reading books by these writers, you’re missing out on some of the best writing and that’s a real shame.
Won’t the best books rise to the top anyway?
Unfortunately, in an industry dominated by middle class white people at all levels, this often isn’t the case, particularly when it comes to books written by Black, brown and indigenous writers. Spread the Word’s recent report ‘Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing’ highlighted several of the issues. They included the idea that ‘publishers fear that books by writers of colour are too niche and will not appeal to their core audience’. That ‘a narrow conception of [the industry’s] audience makes it harder for books by ‘BAME’ writers to break out as resources are distributed according to how well a book is expected to ‘perform’, and that ‘the monoculturalism of the decision makers [i.e. major retail outlet buyers] poses an obstacle to the backing of books by ‘BAME’ authors’. You can read the full report HERE.
Shouldn’t diversity include LGBTQ+, working class and disabled people?
Yes and there are Black, brown and indigenous writers who are also LGBTQ+ / working class / disabled. White writers who are LGBTQ+ / working class / disabled still have white privilege. This campaign was specifically created due to racial imbalance and that continues to be its focus.
Why are you using the term Black, brown and indigenous writers?
To try and be as inclusive as possible. It is difficult to select a term which encompasses the diverse backgrounds and identities of the many individuals included in this group.