& The Rest

My Diversity Scorecard

One of the things I tried to do in 2018 was review a diverse set of authors. Did I succeed? Not really.

One of the things I tried to do in 2018 was review a diverse set of authors. Did I succeed? Not really, the image to the right says it all.

But first, why should I even try to read from a diverse set of authors? Why can’t I be like Jake Needham who stopped by to comment on my July 2018 post about the American Library Association dropping Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from their children’s award? Needham wrote:

If you want to choose the writers you read by the color of their skin or their sex, go ahead. I won’t even try to tell you how stupid that is because you’re obviously all swelled up about your own virtuousness. Personally, I shall continue to choose the writers I want to read by whether their work interests me and what I think of its quality. I don’t give a toss about their race or sex, and I have no interest in listening to you preach at me about how I must. Good-bye.

Here’s the problem, Jake. Most publishing houses publish white writers, so if you only have that to go on, how do you know if the works of writers of color (WOC) interest you or of good quality? If white readers are not searching out writers different from themselves then the readers are only helping perpetuate the problem of white authors being the only voices being heard. I know, it’s confusing especially since major publishing companies are owned by white men. On the plus side Jake, I’ve found that every time I read an author who is not like me, I find that we are more alike than different and the differences are intriguing.

I know one of my problems is that I enjoy reading dark and gritty crime novels about people living on the fringes of society – yeah, yeah, I see the oddity of that statement since most WOC are on said fringes. Sadly, many of the publishers of these books just don’t have the diversity of authors to read.

Also, one of the areas that I have been negligent about is books by LGBTQ+ authors. Though I have not gone out of my way to read LGBTQ+ authors – this needs to be worked on – I have no idea how many LGBTQ+ authors I have read over the last two years. My guess, it’s low, quite low.

So what happened in 2018? The diversity of my reviews was not where I wanted it to be. In 2017, 70% of all the writers I read were white men. So I started working on it for 2018. Was I successful? Not really. Not really at all. Did I move in the right direction? Yeah, but nowhere near enough. I still have much work to doing 2019.

In 2019, I will continue to search our writers different than me which will entail reading some older books and delving into genres I’m not so keen on.

Below is a breakout of the authors I reviewed in 2017 and 2018. Yup, much more work to do.

White Men70%62%
White Women13%15%
WOC Men12%18%
WOC Women5%5%
US Writers80%73%
Non US Writers20%27%

Photograph: “Red Card” by Ian Burt. Licensed CC BY NC.

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