I thought I’d write a post about how I read diverse as a form of activism. How can reading be a form of activism? After all, I’m just reading a book. Well, I don’t just read any book and consider that a form of activism. Here’s a quick summary of how I do activism through reading.
I choose to read diverse books as I want to find books that don’t depict marginalised characters as a stereotype. Not all people in the same marginalised group are the same and nor will they interact with life in the same way. So why should it be different with characters written in a book? I enjoy reading books that represent people with marginalisations well – thus reading can combat stereotypes and generalisations.
I look for books in which marginalised characters are main characters. I’m exhausted of reading books in which marginalised characters are added to make the book more diverse, but these characters are only given minor roles, are not important for the plot or their marginalisation is just for show.
I avoid books that are promoted as diverse but have harmful representations. This requires me reading reviews written by diverse book bloggers and checking social media. You can find some diverse book bloggers on twitter if you search for the hashtag #DiverseBookBloggers. If a diverse book blogger of a certain marginalisation, states that this marginalisation is not represented well in a book, I will avoid it.
I focus on reading marginalised authors. Neither marginalised nor non-marginalised authors are inherently better, however the latter have an easier time finding publishers and literary agents.
I read books about characters with marginalisations written by the authors that have the same marginalisations – also known as: #ownvoices. With these books, I can be pretty sure that at least the representation in respect to that marginalisation is not harmful or stereotypical. You can find non-fiction books that #ownvoices as well – this is not limited to fiction books.
I promote diverse books that I’ve enjoyed and which have good representation in them on social media platforms and in person. If I find harmful representations, then I post these on my social media platforms and warn people about them.
So that’s how I do activism through reading.
An advantage of reading diverse is that the books are so much more interesting for me to read. The real world consists of various persons. Why is the book world so one-sided? I also enjoy reading about characters that I can identify with, which doesn’t really happen when I read non-diverse books.
And don’t forget: Everyone deserves to be represented – even in books (shocking, I know).
The more people support diverse books, the more diverse books will be published and advertised – publishers, literary agents and libraries will pay attention to what the consumer wants to read. Something as simple as reading a book can go a long way.
Last but not least, don’t shame someone for doing activism in a different way than what you think people should do.
Do you think reading can be combined with activism?