Hello, fellow book bloggers!
If you are active on Twitter, you may have noticed a recent hashtag being circulated and used. That hashtag is #DiverseBookBloggers.
If you are not active on Twitter or are confused about what the hashtag means, let me give you a bit of background on how it came to be. (Though, please be warned that I can be rather long-winded when I feel something is important, so bear with me.)
It all started with the following tweet:
— Read Diverse Books (@_diversebooks) May 18, 2016
You all know how scarce male book bloggers are in the community. We’re a rare breed, but what’s even rarer are male bloggers who are people of color. And as far as I knew, I was the only male Latino book blogger around. I certainly hadn’t met any others. But I was certain that I couldn’t be the only one. So I embarked on a quest to find at least one more (#JuanMoreBookBlogger :p) who was also male and Latino.
As you can see, I received a lot of support with 100 retweets. Eventually I found 3 other Latino male book bloggers.
- Scott Esposito @ Conversational Reading
- Joseph Jess @ The Boy Who Cried Books
- Mark Oshiro @ Mark Reads
My quest was successful. I learned I was not alone in the community.
But why did I need 100 retweets find another book blogger who shared a similar background? This got me thinking about the importance of representation in the book blogging community, not only of male bloggers but also bloggers who are people of color.
Some may say that they don’t care about or pay attention to the background of the bloggers they follow. I’m sure this is common practice and true for many book bloggers, even for me. We just want to follow people who love books as much as we do. But we all know that the majority of book bloggers are white women, which is totally fine. So when a white blogger clicks on the About page of another blogger, she probably sees someone who looks like her.
This small and subtle connection shouldn’t be dismissed or taken for granted. I don’t have the privilege of seeing bloggers who look like me all over the community. So when I found a few others who shared my background, of course I would be excited!
I don’t mean to devalue the contributions white bloggers offer to the book blogging community. All I want to do is bring awareness to the fact that we need more book bloggers from diverse backgrounds and to make our presence visible and prominent. My hope is that greater visibility will encourage other readers (who may be gay, PoC, or people with disabilities) to join the blogging community.
We need a diverse book blogging community as much as we need a diverse reading community. As bloggers, we have the potential to sell books or at least bring them much-needed attention. Not individually, but collectively. The more book bloggers from marginalized backgrounds publishers and authors see, the more they will be pressured to meet all of our needs.
Back to how #DiverseBookBloggers was started…
After my quest to find another male Latino book blogger ended successfully, Demelza Griffiths asked this question and proposed the hashtag:
— Demelza Griffiths (@demelzagriff95) May 18, 2016
— Demelza Griffiths (@demelzagriff95) May 18, 2016
From this moment forward, #DiverseBookBloggers took off and we have seen dozens of bloggers from different backgrounds come forward and introduce themselves. The hashtag is only 5 days old, but it has left an impression and we need to take advantage of the momentum.
Before I keep going, I need to stop for a second and explain what #DiverseBookBloggers means specifically.
What do we mean by “diverse”? Who qualifies as #DiverseBookBloggers?
- #DiverseBookBloggers are not white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied bloggers who write predominantly about authors of that same description.
- They ideally blog about #ownvoices authors and advocate diverse reading habits for all. This includes white bloggers who write about diverse literature regularly.
- They find themselves in the LGBTQ+ spectrum or are people with disabilities and blog about books that represent them when possible.
- The hashtag more generally includes any person who is LGBT, a person of color, or a person with a disability who also is a book blogger. But diverse reading is preferred.
A Call To All #DiverseBookBloggers
If you consider yourself a diverse book blogger, please keep promoting and amplifying the hashtag and its message.
We want #DiverseBookBloggers to have longevity, and for that we need a lot of support and activity. So I want to request your help and cooperation. Whenever possible, please try to do the following:
- When you write a review for your blog, please share on Twitter using the #DiverseBookBloggers hashtag if the book is written by an #ownvoices author.
- Feel free to use the hashtag as a safe space to discuss issues personal to you or other issues in the book/blogging/publishing communities.
- Please retweet any tweets using the hashtag to help it spread and get noticed more widely.
I will personally check the hashtag every day for new tweets and share relevant reviews, videos, and discussion. So do not be shy and contribute to or start discussions. I don’t want to have conversations with myself.
One of the goals we hope to achieve is getting noticed by smaller, independent publishers and authors. I want #DiverseBookBloggers to be a resource for all the #ownvoices writers who are struggling to get noticed, whose books are not promoted and therefore ignored. Just recently, author Dominic Carrillo tweeted about his book The Improbable Rise of Paco Jones using the hashtag. I immediately re-shared it because it sounded like a great read. He genuinely appreciated the support and gifted me an eBook on Kindle freely! Authors and publishers are looking for us. They know we’re a valuable resource!
Lesser known authors need our support, especially if they’re from marginalized backgrounds. If there is any way we can help an #ownvoices author reach one more reader, then we have done a great thing. Let us all work together to help combat the systemic problems in the publishing industry that make it easier for straight, white authors to be published, promoted, and read. If we are loud enough and persistent enough, then I believe we can make a difference, in a small but significant way.
To stay updated on #DiverseBookBloggers, follow me on Twitter.
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