I love books a lot. I specifically love gender studies, political ideology, and classics. However, I noticed something recently as I was looking for more books to read during this quarantine. All of the books I’m looking at are written by white men. And the books that haven’t been written by white people are books that focus on race. It’s hard to find a simple politics book written by someone than a white guy. Not to say that I don’t enjoy books about racial relationships, but why aren’t there more minority authors writing a variety of books. Why aren’t more minorities becoming authors and writers in general? That’s what I’m going to try to figure out in this post. You can click here to read my booklist about some of my favorite books written by minority authors and some of my favorite minority authors.
preface. Yes, I know that there are books out there by people of color, but not as many as there should be. The same few authors get used as a defense for the converse of my argument, but there needs to be more. And I do know that a person’s skin color or identification doesn’t completely define them. However, I do believe that our background and personal experiences shape our perspectives, also shaping our writing. Similarly, I think that minority authors have a special story to tell and even if it’s a children’s books, they provide representation and inspiration that needs to be spread.
overview. First, I’m going to discuss some of the main genres that stick out to me as being very one-sided in terms of authors. However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t any other genres or media that fail to include and represent minorities. If you do have a specific genre that you feel needs to be discussed, feel free to leave a comment to start another discussion as I’d also be very interested in learning more.
what does “minority” mean? I think that it’s important to define “minority” because that term means different things to different people. I’m going to be using it to describe any non-caucasian, cis-gendered, male. I’d also like to preface that it’s not meant to be an insult to anyone.
classic literature. I already did a post about classic literature and feminism, but I do touch on some of the main topics that I have mentioned in this post. I think it’s safe to say that it’s very hard to find a classic, written by an author of color. At this moment, I’m having difficulty even naming 3. This is partly because people of color were struggling to even be seen as people and citizens. And I think this just shows how representation in literature mirrors society and politics at different points in time. Also, realize how a good majority of the books taught in schools are classics, yet they highlight archaic, racist, and sexist ideas and narratives that fail to include people of color.
nonfiction + textbooks. This is a big one. It’s kind of similar to what I was previously saying about classic literature because nonfiction books are also used in schools. Nonfiction books are shown to be nothing but facts, however, how realistic can information if authors fail to include groups of people, just further perpetuating the misrepresentation and ignorance. I try to stock my bookshelf with minority authors to support them and to make sure that I get as many perspectives as I can. Although I like nonfiction books about politics, and even as a deep dive for books by someone other than I white man name Norm (don’t get me wrong, I love my Norm Ornstein), it’s hard to find books. I think that if the nonfiction genre gains more minority authors, it opens more underrepresented demographics up to more topics and helps get rid of the ignorance as well.
publishing. I didn’t even think about this when I started writing this post, but as I did more and more research, I realized there’s a whole other realm that’s missing out of minority authors. This deficiency in publishing adds to the author issue too. You can click here to read more about the homogenous aspects of the publishing industry, that affect the types of books being put out and published.
why is it bad when only one perspective and kind of author is promoted? If I haven’t made it clear already then I’m going to now. The world doesn’t need more heterosexual, white male perspectives being told. It’s been shared and promoted so much that people start to form small-minded views that limit society. Minority children get taught one story that either completely restricts their understanding of their background or makes them doubt their identity. They then limit themselves from being authors or other career paths, because they are shown as close unattainable closed off to them. What the world and misrepresented people need is a diverse variety of stories, perspectives, and backgrounds being shared.
what kind of power does a minority writer have? This is a big point. Minority writers have the power and opportunity to share a perspective that society turns away from. A story that doesn’t get told enough to kids. Minority authors can redefine what’s normal and can change the narrative of the world, as they do that every day. Even I, a south Asian daughter of immigrants, learn so much from minority authors. Things that I wouldn’t have been exposed to before. And I’m better off because of it because I have more knowledge of the people that make up the world.
I encourage you to explore the books by minorities that are as marketed as others as well as check out some of the additional articles and sources I have provided. Don’t forget to read my book list of a bunch of minority authors and books. And lastly, if you have any recommendations or thoughts about this topic, feel free to leave a comment down below!
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