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Why Your Excuse for Not Reading Diverse is Bullshit

The Canadian in me struggled not to change this title to something nicer. But I’m kind of not in the mood to be nice about this. I have seen countless posts on Twitter about why people don’t want to read diverse, and so I thought I would break down those excuses and, quite honestly, vent. I don’t often vent on the blog but there’s a time for everything. PS I know I’m saying “you” a lot here, and it’s more of an open letter ‘you’ not a ‘you the reader blaming you’ if that makes sense. Okay? Okay.

Excuse #1: I just want to read whatever I want. I don’t want to be told what to read.

Why Your Excuse for Not Reading Diverse is Bulls**t

No one is holding a gun to your head and telling you to read diversely. Just like anytime anyone does a book review, people are suggesting you take a look at something. And the simple fact is that diverse books and marginalized authors are often not advertised as widely. Why is a suggestion that someone look into incorporating more diversity into their reading is met with such hostility?

I especially hate this excuse because it suggests that there aren’t any interesting or engaging diverse books. As if reading a book that includes diversity would be this painful activity that could never be enjoyed. It’s as if every book with diversity is lumped into one category of ‘don’t want to read.’

I make a concentrated effort to read diverse books because I know there are amazing books with diversity. And I want to support those books and their authors and I want to learn about people from other backgrounds. And if you don’t want to, just say that straight-up. Don’t bother with the excuse.

Excuse #2: I only read what I’m interested in. If I’m interested then I’ll read it, I’m not just going to read it because it’s diverse.

Why Your Excuse for Not Reading Diverse is Bulls**t

This frustrates me because when has anyone ever said ‘this book is diverse, that’s the only reason you should read it?’ I cannot think of a single book with diversity where that’s its only selling point. And of course, people should only read what they’re interested in. The point here is that if you like fantasy, consider reading a fantasy title with diversity. They EXIST. In every genre, there is a title with diversity.

Often the tone of excuses like this, I feel, is to hold hands up and explain away not bothering with titles with diversity. There are so many amazing books with diversity and you can’t find a few that interest you? What? Seriously? Bullshit.

And if you don’t want to read the book yourself you can still promote it. For example, “If I Was Your Girl” features a transgender protagonist which is fantastic. But it’s contemporary (which I rarely read) and the summary didn’t interest me. So I didn’t read it. But what I did do was retweet about it so more people can see it including people that would be interested in the plot. Because it helps support voices which are not as often heard.

Excuse #3: I don’t think we should separate books into diverse or not diverse, I just read whatever.

Why Your Excuse for Not Reading Diverse is Bulls**t

Things like this make me implode. In an ideal world, all books would have some sort of accurate representation of diversity that reflects our real world. Such that separating them wouldn’t even be necessary. But that’s not how it is. Many of the books that are widely advertised and published don’t have diversity and accurate rep. So we separate books like this so people can find those diverse titles that might otherwise get lost in the cracks.

Not to mention this reminds me uncomfortably of when people say they don’t see race or sexuality or ability or literally anything that reminds them that you’ve had a different life experience. Which is a whole nother ball game.

Um… The point is..?

The point of this whole rant essentially is that I’m so tired of hearing excuses to not read diverse or to avoid reading diversely. It’s so painful to constantly see reading books by marginalized authors or featuring marginalized characters regarded as some sort of chore or punishment.

So please, please no more excuses. If you’re a reader, you either want to take the time to find titles with diversity to read and/or support or you don’t care about diversity. If in all the books you read in a year you can’t find a single interesting diverse book you want to read, then you aren’t looking hard enough, and you don’t care about diversity. It’s that simple.

What sorts of excuses have you heard for not reading diversely? Or is there an excuse you feel is legitimate?

(I know this has been a strongly opinionated post but I’ve never had a dismissive/negative argument on this blog and don’t plan to. I can have a kind discussion even when I disagree so don’t feel afraid to voice your opinion even if it contradicts mine)

15 Comments

  • Tasya

    January 15, 2017 at 10:00 am

    This post is amazing, I agree with everything! Especially when people pull no 1 excuse up, I can’t help but snapped at them, I don’t know why. No one FORCE them to read diversely, just read and support diverse books! There are so many diverse books in every genre, meaning there are lots of options to read diverse book, and here they are saying “I only read what interests me”. So are they saying no diverse books interest them? Or is it just them being too lazy? Either way I almost always snapped at them or just ignore them and pretend they didn’t say that.
    Tasya recently posted…Meet the Newbies! // Top 5 Wednesday #9: 2017 Debuts I’m Excited ForMy Profile

    Reply
  • Anila H.

    January 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Great post! I kept nodding while I was reading! I absolutely hate the fact that some people say the “I don’t see race or color” justification. Really? I’m sorry, but that is a total lie. If they were not to see “race” or “color” , then there would not be a need for books to be labeled as diverse or featuring POC characters. The very fact that this type of labeling exists, and that we are trying to give them a voice, it means that something is wrong with the marginalized books today.

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      January 5, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Exactly! There’s a clear bias that exists and pretending they don’t see it is ridiculous. I’m a person of colour and even I can admit that I have lots of internalized stereotypes and assumptions that I regularly fight to break and keep learning. The ‘i don’t see colour’ thing not only erases the POC but it’s like the person saying it has absolved themselves of having any racial bias which is completely untrue. These excuses are just that, excuses and justifications people use to defend their unwillingness to support marginalized voices

      Reply
  • Grace Osas

    December 22, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Yes to all of this! I can guess why a person isn’t really into the WENEEDDIVERSEBOOKS campaign but that shouldn’t prevent you from reading books with diverse characters.

    People who say they don’t see race are speaking through their rear end. EVERYONE sees race. Just because You don’t befriend a person because of race doesn’t mean you don’t see race. We may all be red but obviously a black person is different than a black person and a white person. We have different cultures. We are all human but we all experience the world in a different way. We are all discriminated in different ways. If a stranger sees me, they see a black girl. I won’t get mad if you see me that way because that’s what I am.

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      January 3, 2017 at 8:59 am

      right?? The whole colourblind thing is ridiculous and just creates erasure more than anything. Marginalized people don’t want their race ignored. They want to not be discriminated against because of their race. Ignoring race often means ignoring the discrimination that does exist.

      And yes, some people don’t want to be vocal advocates for fear of being singled out and bullied. Especially on a platform like Twitter. But that shouldn’t prevent them from reading diverse and sharing reviews and feelings about diverse books. Just ignoring the whole thing is another excuse

      Reply
  • Ann Elise Monte

    December 22, 2016 at 12:47 am

    Reading diversely is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my reading experience. And there are resources available to help readers find diverse books they’re interested in. Following diverse book bloggers and authors, especially those like Dahlia Adler who frequently recommend other people’s books and sometimes even help readers find books they’d like, also makes searching for diverse reads a lot less daunting because they’re right there in front of you. Most of the diverse books I read come recommended from twitter.
    Ann Elise Monte recently posted…#DiversityDecBingo My Reading ListMy Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      January 3, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Yes exactly. There are so many amazing resources and I use Twitter quite a bit to help too. So these excuses especially are quite obviously just disinterest which is what makes them so upsetting. And I’m so glad reading diversely has helped your experience so much 🙂

      Reply
  • Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads

    December 21, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    LOVE THIS POST!
    I hate when people pull the “I just want to be able to read what I want.” Why are there no diverse books that you want to read? You’re automatically writing off any book with characters who are different from you as something you would not want to read. That’s a problem.
    It really isn’t that hard to incorporate even just a little more diversity into your reading. Follow diverse bloggers, follow diverse authors on Twitter, etc. and you’ll hear about these kinds of books so much more frequently and you’re bound to hear about at least a few that interest you. I really don’t understand why there are so many readers who are so scandalized by the thought that they should want to read about people and cultures that are different from their own.
    Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads recently posted…WWW Wednesday (12/21)My Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 21, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      Yay! Also yesssss. That excuse is so frustrating. There are so many great diverse books and none of them are appealing? I don’t buy it.

      I don’t get it either but there it is. It’s so simple to read more diversely and when people actively fight against it then I can’t handle them. And that’s when I unfollow people because they clearly have issues of internalized racism they don’t want to deal with. But thankfully there are a lot of amazing people who do make the effort to read diversely. 🙂

      Reply
  • Sarah @ Sarah Says Read

    December 21, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve heard all of these excuses in different forms, and it’s ridiculous. There is not a single legitimate excuse for not reading diversely. Like you said – they just don’t care enough. And they should just SAY that, and then admit what a privileged way of thinking that is.

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 21, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Yes! It’s so painful to hear the excuse when all it amounts to is not caring. And I agree that I would respect them more if they just said they don’t care than trying to pretend it’s somehow someone else’s fault

      Reply
  • Ceillie @ CandidCeillie

    December 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    You make great points here! There’s no excuse for not ever reading diversely. On occasion, I’ve said that I won’t read a specific book that is diverse because the topic is not at all interesting to me, or I don’t enjoy that type of book (i.e. thrillers), but there are diverse authors and groups in every single genre if you just take the time to look for it. In my experience, the real reason most people don’t read diversely is they’re not willing to make the effort to search past the top 5 books being talked about on twitter/insta/tumblr.
    Ceillie @ CandidCeillie recently posted…Top Ten Books on my Christmas ListMy Profile

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    • ltlibrarian

      December 21, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      I agree, if you’re not interested in the plot then cool. Find another diverse book with a plot that does interest you. And YES to that searching. And that person that just wants to read the most popular book whether or not it’s problematic or definitely not at all diverse. And yet I see titles by marginalized authors that are popular and on bestsellers list and I’m like “really? You couldn’t find anything? Really?” But absolutely there is no excuse.

      Reply

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