After the #diversebookbloggers conversation on Twitter, I wanted to take the time to spotlight some of the fantastic bloggers who also are a part of the effort to diversify book blogging! I’ve gotten a ton of support so far, and have decided to spotlight Bina, the fantastic mind behind If You Can Read This.
1) Tell us about yourself/your blog! If you focus on a certain type of lit, let us know why!
Over the last 8 years or so, I’ve been on quite a journey from reading and blogging mostly about escapist mysteries to radical anti-racist texts and diverse novels. While I’ve identified as a feminist for as long as I can remember, I always shied away from dealing with race. This feels strange to me today as of course now I consider myself an intersectional feminist and of course you can’t really run away from these issues unless you’re white. One of my favorite thinkers and activists Sara Ahmed wrote about being ‘not ready for race’ yet and this recalls my own experience.
Let me situate myself here: I’m a German Woman of Color, born and raised German and all that sets me apart from the white norm here is my skin color. Yet (because race is taboo in Germany and everything racist and racializing is done through “migratory background”) I’m always asked where I’m from, since I am not allowed to belong. I must be from somewhere else. My dad is Pakistani but I was raised with the German language only, so since I have no other culture, language etc to call my own, I identify mostly with the wider group of People of Color and so this is what I have come to seek out in my reading.
I’ve chosen to go through grad school twice and both times have chosen to become perhaps more ‘radical’ through American studies and Gender studies. I still love all those books just about awesome characters of Color, but my specific interest lies in stories that confront sexism, racism and other – isms explicitly.And so I often read US literature by marginalized voices, but read from nearly all genres to academic non-fiction. I only shy away from romance, but then I’m on the aro spectrum, it’s not an aversion to ‘genre fiction.’ Okay, super long me-time over!
2) What makes a good story?
Character development all the way! I don’t require liking a character, but they have to be complex. Also: world-building especially in fantasy. These are what drives the plot for me.
3) What book helped shape you into the person you are today? (diverse books preferred)
Typically in my case this was Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider and then Zami. I found a Black WoC who echoed my own experiences of marginalization, who went on to influence so many people and finally there was an idol for me to look up to. Through her I also found the Afro-German movement and May Ayim, a fantastically talented poet.
4) If that book was made into a movie, who would you cast?
Audre Lorde! 😀 Okay since that’s not really possible anymore, I guess Viola Davis is on a roll!
5) Speaking of which, do you read the book first, or watch the movie?
Heh I’m totally the person to quickly read the book before the movie comes out, only to complain about how everything’s different 😀 But seriously I tend to enjoy the books more because often filmmakers don’t go deep enough and don’t take enough chances with the format. Also, usually the casting sucks! #whitewashedOUT
7) Who are some of your favorite bloggers?
You are pretty awesome, Whitney! Can’t believe I only found you this year! Other fantastic bloggers:
- Naz from Read Diverse Books
- Deepika from Worn Corners
- My oldest blogging friend Vishy from Vishy’s blog. I hate having to pick, really.
9) Put your best foot forward! What’s your best post thus far?
Not sure it’s a specific post, but I recently started a diverse 5 on a Theme –series which I like and hope will help others read more diversely. There’s three installments so far!
10) Anything else you want to say? Take a sentence or two and do it here!
I’m currently setting up a #DiverseBookBloggers directory (it’s still in its infancy) so that we can all find each other and show everyone that book bloggers are diverse and that we need diverse books. Bookmark the link for when it goes live, and feel free to fill out the form to include your blog, everyone!! Link here.
Bina was a great choice for this first feature! Check out her out– she’s so insightful, but still has a fantastic sense of humor. Send her some love! And if you’re interested in being part of the feature series, here’s the link to sign up! Keep an eye out for the #diversebookbloggers feature every 1st and 3rd Tuesday!