I watched the most repugnant video on the YouTube last week. Correction: I watched part of it, threw up in my mouth, and then read the transcript. Not gonna link to it, not gonna give the woman’s name. I don’t want her to get any more views on that piece of racist crap. She’s a white author of paranormal romance who’s having tantrums over the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. I had to stop watching when she instructed her viewers to stop calling for diversity in books, to stop criticizing authors for writing books with all-white casts of characters.
THEN I had to stop and admit to myself how annoying I find it to be a white author caught between, on one hand, the push for diverse characters in books, and on the other hand, the #OwnVoices movement, which can be interpreted to say: If you’re a white author, you shouldn’t write from a non-white perspective. Those stories don’t belong to you, you’re not entitled to make money off them, and you’re doomed to get them wrong.
I need to stop pretending that this isn’t annoying. It is. It’s super annoying. It’s annoying that more and more agents and editors are looking for writers who aren’t me. It’s annoying that there is an increasingly large readership who will criticize my books if I write from a white perspective AND if I write from a non-white perspective.
It’s kind of an annoying time to be white.
It’s also kind of a deadly time to be black or brown, and has been for the entirety of our nation’s history.
<SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU WHINING DIAPER BABIES YOU ARE NOT BEING OPPRESSED>
…is what I want to say to everyone complaining about #OwnVoices and #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Including myself.
Seriously. If an agent doesn’t want to see your query because you’re white? THAT’S NOT OPPRESSION.
I bet you got an excellent education, probably free, at a school that was well-funded, clean, and not gang-controlled. You never worried about getting jumped on your way to school, you did not suffer crippling PTSD as a result of seeing relatives and friends gunned down in front of you, your family didn’t require you to work or provide childcare, and it was taken for granted that you’d go to college. You did in fact go to college, where you had the luxury of studying literature and creative writing, then got a great job with healthcare and benefits that allowed you the free time to write your awesome novel.
If you then experience some challenges in getting that sucker published because there’s all these agents who’d suddenly prefer to represent people of color, see above on shutting the fuck up you whining diaper baby you are not being oppressed.
Back to the repugnantly vlogging writer of paranormal romance: I have to wonder if she’s ever actually been criticized for writing books with all-white characters. Her work doesn’t even pretend to have social relevance or literary value. Does anyone give a shit if some escapist fluff is filled with white people? I don’t. I bet she’s never disappointed a single reader for not putting people of color in her books. Honey, there was no need for you to join that conversation. It was none of your concern.
I mean, we all know why she joined the conversation. For the views. All of a sudden, people know who she is, they’re watching her vlog, they’re hitting her blog, her name is known to people she never would’ve reached otherwise, all for saying We’ve never had diversity before in the history of humans, so stop this right now, it’s annoying me.
Let’s be honest, the prospect of giving up some privilege and representation and power is frightening. It’s disingenuous to pretend the publishing world isn’t competitive. The more emphasis is placed on #OwnVoices, the harder white authors will find it to get published. There’s a finite readership and a finite number of dollars available and it looks like more and more of those dollars might end up in the hands of people of color. If you’re white, this can feel threatening. Get over it. Breathe. Accept it. EMBRACE IT.
I’m sick of people like Ms. Repugnant Vlogger whose message boils down to I’m fine with whatever you people of color want to try to achieve, as long as it doesn’t threaten my position of white privilege and power.
The balance of power in this country has shifted some in my short lifetime, and I look forward to more change. More people of color in positions of power, more diverse voices being heard and published and getting paid for it. And yes I do believe that should happen at the expense of white people. We have to be prepared to give up the privileged position we’ve held for centuries. Accept it. Embrace it. IT’S GONNA BE AWESOME.
Repugnant Vloggers of the world, go ahead and have your tantrums if you need to, but don’t pretend that #OwnVoices or #WeNeedDiverseBooks are censoring you. Looks to me like they gave you an outlet for your hate and a shit-ton of blog hits.
Now let’s look at a photo of some flowers!