I was planning to finish a different blog post for today. Then I went on Twitter and saw the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag and I had to participate. This is an issue that is close to my heart, and clearly to many others. I’m so grateful that it’s all over the internet.
This movement started with Children’s and YA Publishing, which makes the most sense in a way because it’s not only about readership, but about raising children and education, about our future as a culture. We want to promote diversity in education; it’s not acceptable that our literature reflects our systems of privilege and erases or marginalizes the experiences of many children who are just learning to read. I haven’t been in publishing very long – less than a year – but what I’ve learned so far leads me to believe that houses are much more open to publishing new ideas if they can see that there is a market for the books. I’m not saying that “the market” is an excuse for publishing professionals to pretend we’re not influential actors; I agree with Daniel José Older that publishers cannot justify lack of diversity by creating and then blaming “the market.” However, I do think the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is smart to begin with a social media movement and finally put consumer purchasing power behind the types of books people want to see more often. I want other publishing professionals to hear this audience and start to make a change; I also hope that the natural extension of this campaign will be adult publishing, where promoting diverse voices in literature is just as important.
You can read about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign on their Tumblr.
You can also join their Facebook Event.
Daniel José Older also wrote an excellent article about identity politics in the publishing industry: “Diversity is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing”
I believe this movement started with an outcry about the lack of diversity at Book Expo America.
Ashley Strickland asks “Where’s the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss” on CNN.
Alex Beggs did an interview with Anika Noni Rose on race in children’s books for Vanity Fair.