Monday, August 15, 2016

Things That Seem Untrue

I usually attempt to vague up the inciting incident for posts, the idea being to look to the broader lessons not this one thing.  But I think it might actually seem like I'm talking about something else here, this week/month/year being what it was. So, there was some Twitter conversations a few days back that covered a few things. Librarians should read diversely.  As in lots of books, by lots of kinds of people, writing lots of kinds of things.  
And immediately there was pushback.  (I already read a lot, I'm not that kind of librarian, my patrons only want one kind of book, etc.) So, among other things, that discussion produced this post over at Book Riot: I Can't Even with Librarians Who Don't Read Diversely. Things in the comments quickly got squirrely with folks saying race shouldn't matter, good books, are good books, and a number of other things far more overtly racist.  Many of the comments were deleted for violating policies, and some folks then took to Twitter, railing at the Book Riot Twitter for stifling their free speech. 
So, hi.  Let's talk.  
1. You are not entitled to free speech on anyone's website.  Not even here!  
2. If you didn't think saying something like white people just happen to write better books was racist, the problem isn't the site or the moderators it's you.  See also, books by and about white people just happen to be my favorite genre. 
3. If you are not a librarian, the post wasn't directed at you.  The point was that librarians are in a position where it is in fact part of their job to know about books beyond the scope of things I happen to like.  
4. If you are not a librarian and the post angered you, it may have hit a nerve.  You may have chosen to lash out on behalf of nameless librarians who just happen to like books by white people better. This is a thing you can work on.  Yourself, or perhaps with the help of friends.  
5. If, as one person claimed, white people are tired of being called racist for just happening to like things by white people better than all the things, um, yeah, that's a viewpoint you are allowed to have, it just happens to be racist.  Because hi, claiming things from the dominant culture just happen to be better is racist.  
6. I'm a casual Book Riot reader, but off the top of my head I can think of six or seven posts they've done this year about suggestions for reading diversely, in addition to the second year of their Read Harder book club. So, if you claim to be a regular reader of Book Riot and yet you still don't even know where to find books by or about diverse people, then you seem to be either lying or not a very good reader.  
7. Also, if you've never ever been called a racist in your life, I understand why having that happen for the first time would be disconcerting.  Racism is everywhere.  It's really hard to avoid.  Think carefully about how what you said or did might be harmful.  And if you are the same person who said these days people are always getting called racist just because they happen to like things by white people better, then, you seem to be in conflict with yourself.  You might want to think on that.