I have only covered a few issues I’ve found over publishing but I’ll definitely be doing more parts to this as I wasn’t able to cover everything since there’s just so many problems. Feel free to add any other problems you may have in the comments.
We all know diversity in publishing is a major problem but not just for everyone. Specifically, People of Colour (PoC) authors and when it comes to reviews, PoC bloggers/bookstagrammers.
What is diversity?
*I’ve pulled this from the internet word for word and will leave a link for it directly below but it covers everything*
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.
It means understanding that each individual is unique,
and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along
the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs,
political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration
of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.
It is about understanding each other and moving beyond
simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the
rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.
The definition is from here.
It has a pretty wide range when you read it. But publishing has failed to be properly diverse for a very long time. Only recently are more diverse books being printed.
My problem with publishing isn’t the diverse books. It’s the way diversity is tackled.
Now, the publishers tend to publish a lot more LGBT+ content and nothing really happens for the minorities from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there should be less LGBT+ books or they should stop publishing that content because it’s great people are seeing themselves in books!
What I’m saying is publishing needs to be more inclusive for those who are Muslim, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Prime-Indigenouse etc. The list goes on and on and on. And no, not just for religions either. For ethnic backgrounds as well. I want to read more about people from different regions of Africa, different regions of Asia. And when I say Asia, I mean Asia. Not just China or Japan. I mean Singapore, Iran, Pakistan, India etc. I’m a British Asian and I always feel weird even when filling out forms because they have British Asian on the form… And then they have British Pakistani. Pakistan is in Asia.
Now I want to point out a little something. Most of you may have heard of Once and Future. An LGBT+ retelling of the Arthurian Legend with a main f/f romance. And that’s great. But the rep for other minorities. Not so great. Below is a passage directly from the book. It’s been covered slightly when a friend sent it to me but it gets the point across.
Now that’s damaging for Arabs. And not just Arabs because, generally, when a person mentions an Arab the assumption does tend to go towards Muslim (not all Arabs are Muslims). Now add onto this what the media is already saying about Muslims and how majority of us are already far too scared to leave our own homes than we should be. This kind of rep doesn’t help. Not only is it damaging, it’s also deeply offensive.
When people think of police, they generally think it’s a figure of authority to protect them. I’m more scared of the police because I’m a visibly Muslim girl, who uses a backpack. Imagine being scared to use a backpack or wear a nice thick coat.
So whilst the book may be showing diversity by raising one minority, it’s also dragging another.
Another point I’d like to make. How many of you have read a book with a clearly Muslim or any other minority, not including LGBT+ (because I already know plenty of those), in YA recently? I think I could count them all on 10 fingers.
And, again, I’m not saying this because there haven’t been more than 10 published. This is yet another problem. Those that have been published, haven’t been properly promoted.
For example, I Will Not be Erased by Gal-dem (link to bookdepository to support the author and this amazing book) is a book of short stories on experiences as PoC. This book has exactly 4 posts on the publishers Instagram account. Whereas a book, from a well known author, that has already received a response that was amazing, has countless posts. Ironic when you consider the title.
Another problem I will mention (my last one since I’ve already made this quite long) is where the PoC books go when ARCs or early copies are distributed. It annoys me to no end when the books are not reaching those who the books are about. And this include LGBT+ books.
Love, Hate and Other Filters was released last year. I remember the buzz and reading reviews that said it was fantastic, the rep was great. But no one actually prepared me for a book that would make me angry at the main character, how the book would have me mentally screeching that it wasn’t right.
And before it’s mentioned, yes I’m well aware that it was a Muslim main character written by a Muslim author. But there was basically no mention of the religion. None of the values we appreciate and follow in Islam were there. The rep was horrendous because it was a Muslim girl who basically tries to show how westernized she is, but that isn’t right. I get that not every Muslim is practising, or wears a hijab. But I expected something that would make me say, “Yes I can relate to this”. And “OMG, it was the same for me!” I just could not handle how little respect there was from the girl to her parents, when in Islam, we respect our parents regardless of whether they’re Muslim or not. It’s actually a major part of the religion and not even this courtesy was given. Essentially, it came down to the religion and culture being oppressing and western culture being all freedom.
I’ll end my rant here but there is so much more about Diversity in Publishing that annoys me.