Last Thursday, multicultural, LGBTQIA+ and differently abled bloggers converged for an epic discussion on the state of diversity in book blogging. Started by Nazahet (the blogger behind @_diversereads) and others, the #diversebookbloggers chat sought to unify book bloggers internationally. Unexpectedly, the turnout was great, with people checking in from Singapore, Germany, Australia, and other corners of the world. With questions like “What can diverse book bloggers contribute to the book blogging community that other’s can’t?” bloggers were able to get to the heart of representation issues in the blogging community, and how this has larger ramifications on the industry at large.
That wasn’t hyperbole– the stats aren’t quite there yet, but the book blogging community seems to be a reflection of the book reviewing community in its entirety. Pulled from Lee and Low Books’ Where is the Diversity in Publishing, the tweet below legitimizes that claim:
Overwhelmingly, industry reviewers are white/cis-gendered/straight/able-bodied, and the book blogging community is no different. This has been reflected in ongoing discussions about the utility of “sensitivity readers” who specifically read books to facilitate the elimination of inauthentic diverse depictions in contemporary literature. Through the #diverse book bloggers conversation, bloggers were able to articulate other reasons why the lack of diverse reviews is inherently problematic.
The business angle was compelling. Similar to the #whitewashedOUT conversation that gained steam on twitter, executives reinforce the idea that profit comes from white audiences. Diverse book bloggers, however, broaden the who is included in the definition of the stereotypical reader and champion authentic representation.
Tweets continued through the day, asserting diversity in the blogosphere is an essential part of diversifying the publishing industry. What resulted was something unifying– perhaps even a bit cathartic. It boiled down to the need for representation at all levels of the process, and to the need for diverse bloggers to keep authors and publishers honest in their depictions of diverse characters and settings. Regardless of the amount of time an author spends doing their homework, no one knows a culture or an identity better than people from their own community.
Diverse book bloggers are here. Perhaps not in the numbers of our counterparts, but we manage to change the face of reading, bit by bit. It seems small, insignificant in the face of the wide array of other challenges that people of color face, but this matters. “I’m tired of the stigma men associate with reading & blogging,” said Naz, one of the only Latino book bloggers to participate. Changing the face of reading will hopefully change the face of the characters we read, and the authors who are chosen to write them.
Accounts referenced in this article have given their permission for their use. If you’re interested in more about the #diversebookbloggers hashtag, here’s a storify that co-creator Demelza Griffiths created to show the collaboration that inspired the chat. This conversation also reminded me of a previous post “The Case for Reading Diverse,” that you can check out here.