This post will not be a pretty one… I will make mistakes… I will probably say something that won’t sit well but I need to be honest and open in a way I thought I was but after reading so many stories by so many Authors of Color (AOC) after the latest RWA statement regarding diversity and the RITAs I think I need to be open so I can finally be what I want to be… a true advocate for diverse voices in all areas of my life.
I have always said that I truly try to be color/ethnicity blind in all aspects of my life but you know what… THIS IS A PRIVILEGE THAT REALLY SAYS “I have the luxury to say things that actually mean that I’m not truly trying to make sure that ALL voices get a chance to be heard.” I am privileged in that I am a relatively educated white woman who was able to grow up in areas with diverse citizens and non-citizens. I had the chance to experience the services and teachings from people of all sorts of religious and non-religious backgrounds. I was encouraged to read, to seek out information from varied sources, and go out to just experience life around people. Yes, people… all kinds… I went to school in a public system where in high school my friends were from the projects, from the richest areas of town, and those who were like me just normal middle to low class kids. I was also lucky enough to not be the popular kid but because of the classes I was in I knew everyone in my school including who sold drugs, who needed food or support due to poverty, and every single one of the popular kids. I never feel in to a single clique but was able to spend time around anyone I wanted. In fact, I had the chance to spend some time around one of the people I went to high school with and her perception was that I was popular. I never felt that way but perhaps because I liked to be around those who tolerated me (sad but there were so many problems at home that tolerated me was GREAT) others could perceive it as popularity.
I say this because me claiming to be color blind is the worst thing that I could actually say. I need to actually say that I will not tolerate the fact that those who aren’t like me get sneered at. They get told that speaking up is just complaining… that asking for an equal chance at being recognized for work that is AMAZING is just whining… I need to own that I should be looking for the voices that aren’t being celebrated and use my platform to encourage more people to PAY ATTENTION!!! I don’t actively search for AOC and that needs to change… I need to do better… WE NEED TO DO BETTER… I need to be aware in a way that allows me to support all AOC by being aware that by claiming color blindness I was actually part of the problem. I am not going to say this will be easy for me to correct but I am saying I want to do better. I will be at my first RWA in July and will change my Twitter avatar as we get closer to the convention so I can be recognized. I will speak up if I hear or see any behavior that AOC have had to deal with over the years. It will be hard for me because I do have trouble speaking out. I admit it… I avoid confrontation most of the time because that’s the way I was raised. Don’t draw attention to yourself… be a good girl… don’t embarrass the family… I know that it was what was taught to them but you know what… I need to speak up and truly try to be an advocate.
If you know a work, series or anything by AOC that you’d like to see me read or talk about… PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I am being honest when I say I will try anything once.. I really do love to read anything just so I can at least say that I tried it even if I end up not liking it. I encourage you to start to pay attention to what you are reading, who you look to for recommendations, what characters are included, how people are represented, and above all…. NOTICE WHAT IS MISSING…. saying you are colorblind is not a plus… it is not a positive… you are most likely doing the same thing I was doing and missing problems that need to be addressed. I cannot say this enough… If you see me at any event, please come up to me to say hi… to avoid being alone or in general just cause you like books. I am an introvert by nature but I love books… I love reading… I love talking about books… I love learning about new books… I love hearing about the old school stuff that I never read because I didn’t read romance until about a year before this blog started… Send me an email by using the contact page… Find me on Twitter… Honestly if you just want to tell me off because I was so damned proud of being something that was not really a good thing… Yeah go ahead.. I will own my blindness but I also own that I will be trying to be more than that going forward. I want to be a positive in this community and the community in general. The only way this is possible is to acknowledge that my own arrogance is a huge part of what allows this behavior to continue.