Dear YA, We Need To Leave it in 2016

Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 has been a heck of a year. It's honestly been ridiculously riddled with sadness, loss, heartache and in-between all of that, a little bit of sunshine. In regards to the book community, we have come a long way since January and we're still improving. However, we need to leave certain things in 2016, because I'm tired, really tired. As a Black Indigenous & Pacifika teen the community has me tired because of the nonsense that I constantly have to deal with that could easily be solved with a simple google search or a sincere "I'm so very sorry that I talked over People of Colour (PoC) like yourself and then have my husband harass you unknowingly" *sips tea*... Anyways, we got to talk about individuals who resist to the positive change and wish to stay in this bubble of "Keep YA Kind". So I'm here to pop that bubble... and several more with a list of what needs to be left in 2016.

Fam what exactly do you mean by this? The only thing I can conclude from a statement like this is that you wish that PoC and those who are marginalised stayed quiet. This statement is also only ever said when WoC, especially black woman like myself, speak up about problematic phrases, books and representation. It's as if once a black woman shares something that is problematic, people who are always silent about diversity or problematic representation tweet, "I miss the old book community". No you don't, you'd just rather silence people and further perpetuate stereotypes in books because they're your favourite or because you just rather not talk about it. This statement needs to be left in 2016.

I'm sorry but where have you been? Are you a subscriber to the blog? If you ain't, go to my side bar. Now underneath 'Follow by Email' put your email in their and hit that subscribe button. Don't be a fool and put in an email you never check. Put in an email that works too. Or better yet, click that follow button for 'Bloglovin'. You done that? Or you just playin'? I'm just trying to look out for you, cause how are you gonna say this when you should have read 'Dear YA, White Are You Doing' by now. It clearly states that 'google is your bestfriend'. Don't just expect people of colour to educate you for free. I swear I'm going to link the next person who asks for my time and knowledge after saying something problematic, to my paypal. Sis is tired and I'm not about to just burn out for you for free. Time is precious and I wasn't born to educate you.

Again, this relates to the first thing on the list. Discussion and critique is always labelled drama when WoC speak up and start a discussion or critique a book. Like guys, do you know what drama means? If you don't know what it means, here's a definition :)))

Still a little lost on what 'Drama' means? Want to learn more? Watch Jane the Virgin, that show is full of drama. Stop using drama to describe discussion and critique. Wanting better representation and stating that something is hurtful isn't drama.

Okay then? That doesn't mean that something isn't racist anymore, lol. If someone finds something offensive and racist, it's offensive and racist. You have no say and no place in saying that something isn't racist or problematic just because you don't find it racist or problematic. Stay in your lane. Boost those voices who are getting drowned out by those yelling "Drama!". Let them know that you're here for them. Educate yourself by using your bestfriend mentioned earlier on. It isn't hard. Google doesn't charge you or bite.

Sorry, but how did you find a correlation between having a PoC partner and you yourself experiencing racism? It's like saying that if you were heterosexual and your best friend was gay, you experience homophobia. How are you going to reach like that? It's not how it works. Don't say this while trying to justify your racism and why you talked over PoC. You will look stupid. Plain stupid. Also very racist.

That but basically means, "I'll only support diversity if it looks a certain way, if my white gaze is pleased with it and if you don't critique my harmful rep." You have automatically become irrelevant in the discussion about diversity once you say 'but'. I ain't here for that. Deuces.

I was off social media for myself, but I caught up on a little bit on what happened while I was away and damn, this statement is ugly. In addition to this statement there was another that said, "Diversity is only needed in Contemporary". How in the world does someone make such a reach? First of all, reading is a form of escapism for so many young adults and fantasy is one of the most popular genres. We need representation in all genres including fantasy. What kind of statement is this? People do realise that it's racist, ableist, biphobic, homophobic, transphobic, queerphobic and so much more to say this? It's erasing so much representation from books. Diversity is needed everywhere, not just in contemporary. Please take a seat if you think otherwise.

This is in relation on people telling those who speak up on how to actually speak up. Basically, people are tone policing. Don't do that. Stop telling people how to approach others or how to critique or discuss something. Let them have their voice, stop silencing them or making them sound a particular way to people who continually contribute to their oppression. What kind of nonsense is this? How did you suddenly flip the tables and make the person speaking up the bad guy? How are you more concerned on the way someone approaches someone else than the actual harmful rep/act/phrase. This is such a 'Keep YA Kind' statement. Don't do this, just don't.

Again, where have you been? Subscribe right now. In my very first Dear YA post I talk about the bias we have as a community. We tend to help allies more instead of those who are marginalised everyday. We tend to have a preference on who we deem is worthy of our help which is ridiculous. It's always WoC who get less attention. It's saddening, but as a community, we should leave this preference behind in 2016. We're slowly growing as a community and have slowly improved on this, but it's only improved when someone brings attention to how people have defended X but didn't do the same for Y. I've been in this situation and I've witnessed this situation, it's very clear that the community has a bias on who to help.

There's a lot more to add onto this list, but I'm actually tired (this isn't a scheduled post, it's 1:32am, I'm typing while listening to Chance the Rapper's mixtape) so I'll finish it up here. Feel free to make your own list and link me. I'd be happy to share. Anyways, don't bring these into the new year, because I'd be happy to leave you behind in 2016. That sounded harsh, but if you've seen what I've been through these past few weeks, this isn't harsh at all, just a fact.

with kindness,

5 comments on "Dear YA, We Need To Leave it in 2016"
  1. I've been, actively or more passively, part of the YA (book blogging) community for nearly ten years now. Anyone who says they miss the "old" YA community really means they miss keeping their white-tinted glasses on and their fingers in their ears and want to go back to a YA that hasn't existed in a long time. #KeepYAKind was nearly two years ago. #YesGayYA and Wicked Pretty Things were both in 2011. The #KeepYAKind precursor that was the harassment of Jawas Read Too was 2010. The cover whitewashing of Liar/Magic Under Glass/Fury of the Phoenix was 09/10. Debbie Reese was critiquing Twilight back in 2008 and others were examining the portrayal of Native Americans in the series even earlier. But I doubt they think of that history of YA pushing against the problematic as "the old community" even though it was a huge part of it.

    And as for #KeepYAKind? That was explicitly started to protect a successful male author from being called out for his comments about women and female characters. It was never about making a safe space for the actual target audience of YA, or even most of the people involved.

  2. Great post!!! Not only fantasy, but every genre needs more diversity. There is also a misconception to what diversity is. Some people believe that one POC in a cast of 30 people counts as diversity. Generalizing an entire race in a single person, and even forcing that person to be the voice and example of an entire race is NOT diversity!

  3. Excellent post! Thank you so much for writing it and for being such a strong voice in the community. I didn't know the book community when it was "how it was," but I'm thoroughly looking forward to what it will (hopefully) one day become. Happy New Year! Here's hoping 2017 gives us all steps in the right direction.

  4. What a great post that everyone needs to read and learn from. I'm so tired of all the bs, especially when it comes to poc in fantasy. Like do people not know history. People of color have been around for a long time. Dragons, elves and goblins not so much.

    Anyways, I hope that all the "drama" can be left behind in 2016 but that's wishful thinking cause I know some shit will pop off sooner or later.

    PS. I desperately want tone policing to kick the can.

  5. Awesome post! I've just gotten into the social media aspect of the book community and seeing all those excuses you've listed being spouted around really upset me. I'm glad to see there's an even louder community fighting back! Can't wait to catch more of your posts :)


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