The Post I Was Scared To Write

*Disclaimer: I am not trying to silence anyone. You are free to say whatever you'd like to say. This post focuses on how people feel after you say what you say to them and why your message isn't being heard. 
*Disclaimer: I am not saying that anyone is a bad person nor am I labeling anyone as "wrong." I want to clearly express my opinions in a calm manner that will hopefully encourage conversation and change if needed. I am addressing something I see as a problem just as you have addressed problems in the past and hopefully continue to address problems in the future so we may all learn.
*Disclaimer: The quotes listed below are from active members in the YA/book community.

Thank you to the many people who reached out to me on Twitter and shared their stories and quotes. This post would be nothing without the conversations we've had, the stories you told, and the courage of your voices.

The Beginning:

On Thursday a brave lady on Twitter by the name of Sierra expressed in a Twitter thread a sentiment that I and many others shared regarding Book Twitter. She highlighted the very scary and true realization that many teenagers are terrified to speak up and share their opinions in the book community. This is very problematic because our book community is centered around young adult books, books meant for the teenage age group. Can you see the problem when people in the community who are supposed to be writing for you act in such a way that you can no longer trust them? Book Twitter is unrecognizable. It has twisted into something I now cringe at when I think of it. The culture that has permeated through Book Twitter has left a foul taste in my mouth, and the community has warped into a hostile and unwelcoming environment.



Why We Are Afraid: 

I was afraid because people I'd known for years had suddenly turned into very different people from the ones I knew and respected. I saw people shame bloggers for their opinion posts and reviews. A blogger friend chided me for choosing not to use my social media platforms to advocate for diverse books as strongly as she did. Three authors I know have been accused of being racists and one was even scared off of Twitter. I saw people attack others for liking or merely reading a problematic book. Recently, someone got attacked for wishing an author and her book a happy publication day. Some of my best blogging friends quit Twitter and moved to Instagram because they couldn't handle all the hatred. People got into Twitter arguments on a daily basis with subtweets galore, and although I was newly graduated from high school, I felt like I was in it again!

"This whole destructive pack mentality is way stronger in the echo chamber of Twitter. I was shocked at how incredibly kind and supportive the Goodreads and bookstagram communities were in comparison." - Anonymous

But mainly I was afraid of any backlash for having an opinion that dared to be different from others. I was scared of my friends shaming me. I was scared of my followers and readers deserting me. I was scared of the relationships I'd built in publishing with authors, agents, publicists, and writers from disintegrating. I was scared of becoming a pariah, the person that everyone would hate and shun.

"Don't tell me it's because what I have to say is problematic. No. The reason we're afraid is because we see what happens if something is DEEMED problematic. And how unforgiving people can be towards mistakes" - Anonymous

"Why would anyone WANT to speak up when they've seen how the same loud people don't listen and instead just instigate a witch hunt." - Anonymous

"I've seen Book Twitter systematically weed out and shun authors and bloggers just for defending themselves whenever they are told their opinion is wrong. Small, innocuous comments are blown up and mocked and retweeted and it's like a blood sport." - Anonymous

"... are now not wanting to share their opinions on books for fear of being bullied and having wrongful assumptions made about them, having to defend themselves and make those who bullied them understand, only to be told that their opinions are wrong and invalid" - Anonymous


On Diversity:

I'd also like to note that not once on my Twitter thread did I mention diversity causing any of this, yet many of the direct messages and responses directly addressed diversity. Also the subtweets said that if we are feeling uncomfortable then maybe our opinions are problematic. That statement is exactly what is wrong with all of this. The assumptions, the fear, the attempt to censor and reprimand others to a point where they don't feel like they can talk, where they don't feel their opinion will be welcomed, heard, or respected. If the opinion is problematic should we be afraid? When you get an answer wrong in class will the teacher berate and shame you? No. You will get things wrong in life. That is the only way that we learn and grow. I am a diverse book blogger. I am a women of color and I embrace my culture and heritage. I support diverse books, but even I can't help but attach a negative feeling to the diversity push. Do NOT tell me how I should support diverse books. Because I do it how I want to and I won't let anyone shame me for saying I'm doing it the wrong way or just not enough. The culture on Book Twitter is hurting the push for diversity.

"I used to be passionate and excited about diversity in books. Now, because of the atmosphere in the community, the topic makes my anxiety spike and makes me want to climb into bed and never come out. Who, exactly, is that helping?" - Anonymous

"And what's ironic is this threatening atmosphere is so often created by people overcompensating. Like some white girls are the biggest attackers for books that are problematic for racism. And it's clearly for their own self-righteous mission because they're only interested in broadcasting/shunning readers as racist idiots, not in promoting actual open discussion & learning or progress. And the joke is they think they're fostering an inclusive community." - Anonymous

The loudest voices on Twitter drown out the quiet majority. But the loudest and most outspoken in any group are not always right, and in this case, the quiet majority feel like Book Twitter has been hijacked by the loudest voices and filled with fear. They have yelled and terrorized people. And that is not the way to educate anyone, especially not teenagers. We are still young and we are still learning. How can we be expected to know what exactly is right and wrong when there is such a huge weight on our shoulders, a pressure to be right every time for fear of backlash. School is all about making mistakes on the way to finding the right answer. When you scare people from making mistakes they will never raise their hand and try again.

"Some of us are genuinely trying to learn... and we are terrified of asking the wrong questions or messing up. Some of us even want to be writers and to help fix the problems we see in literature but are feeling discouraged because one mess up means we are completely shunned. This community is shutting down so many people who genuinely want to do good - people who want to advocate for and support diversity and spread awareness." - Anonymous

"There is very much a pack mentality going on on Twitter from a group of people who fancy themselves the leaders of this movement, but who shut down anyone who doesn't 100% follow their rules. " 
- Anonymous

"Everyone on here knows there's a certain group of people who are very quick to attack and show no mercy to people." - Anonymous

The responses to my thread tell me that many people, not just teens, are afraid to speak at all for fear of backlash, for fear that they'll be misunderstood and raked through the mud by these social justice warriors. I am sad to realize that I've lost all respect for the people in this group. People's lives have been ruined. So many people feel hurt and alienated, and is it really all for diversity? Do we want a topic that should be positive and bring us so much joy to be riddled with tears and anxiety, distrust and anger?

We Have Stopped Treating Each Other Like Human Beings:

I had a discussion with an amazing friend, and she stressed something important. We need to treat people like they are human. The despicable treatment I've seen not only shocks but disgusts me. We have stopped treating each other like human beings. We make mistakes. We learn. We have lost common courtesy and manners. We forget that behind every avatar there is a real person with feelings and emotions. The community used to be so inclusive and open and welcoming yet now we've fractured into groups that only create harmful divisions. We can't separate the people of color from our white allies. Why should we separate the LGBTQIA folks from others? When we create such divisions it propagates the idea that anyone who isn't like us isn't welcome and is a threat to our identity. 

Teens deserve better from the books and community that is meant to be their own. - Danielle

We are setting a poor example to teenagers as to how we should behave. Some people made mistakes and when they tried to fix them no one would listen. People would say "it's not my job to educate" or merely stick to the vitriol and shunning. The call out culture in this community frightens me. Not because of the call out itself but because of the anger that brews and permeates in the community. It stays with us. People call out and then move on to another person to shame. And it is not right. The trend: get angry, ruin someone, and move on. No one addresses or fixes the problem.

How Can We Fix This:

First we need to determine the end goal. My friend said it best: "if we actually WANT change then we have to treat others as people just like us. And if they don't think it's their job to educate, at the very least they can call them out with respect and compassion."

Addressing the "it's not my job to educate" statement, I find that perplexing. Why do you call out people then? If you merely want to humiliate them and show that you are correct, they are wrong, and thus you've "won" then...

"It doesn't make sense to claim that you want change, refuse to help bring it about, and then act in a way that's so counterproductive." 
- Anonymous

The only message anyone in Book Twitter will take away from these call out exchanges is that making mistakes leads to being ridiculed and shamed. And that has already happened. These call outs are counterproductive because instead of bringing awareness to diversity it brings awareness to how bad the offending person is and how unforgiving Book Twitter can be.

But don't we want people to write and read more diversely? Isn't that the central idea of this movement?

"I've never written before but I started working on this YA book I was SO excited about. But now I don't even want to write it because my characters represented a variety of sexualities, ethnicities, abilities, and everything that the book community will only find some reason to viciously tear apart. There is no forgiveness or compassion, even if you're genuinely trying." - Anonymous

For those who know me, you know that I am never afraid to share an opinion. I pride myself on my self-confidence, and I am proud of the discussion and opinion blog posts I've published on my blog. But since last summer, I'd begun to feel disconnected from - even afraid of - the community I once called home. I saw all of this mayhem unfold on Twitter, and for the first time ever I shut down. A Perfection Called Books turned into the most neutral and lackluster creation ever. I am so disappointed in myself for letting my fear of backlash stop me from posting discussion posts, from speaking my mind, from being myself.

Too Long; Didn't Read:

It's by taking the leap today that I see that so many people share my views. I'm angry with myself for not speaking up sooner. I am disappointed that I let things get so far out of hand. I am utterly heartbroken and in tears now after reading all of the tweets and direct messages sent my way. Some people's stories and responses are so unbelievably tragic. People are genuinely afraid and have kept their opinions to themselves. People do not feel accepted. People are alone and don't know who they can trust with their feelings and opinions. People have deleted their app because of the toxic environment. People have quit their blogs because they no longer want to be part of this community. 

Know that many people are hurting in this community because of the culture we have. Know that many people feel afraid, a large portion of people even though they might not share it publicly. Don't believe me? Look at the number of anonymous quotes in this piece. All owners asked to be kept anonymous. Authors have been burned, bloggers are hesitant to post, writers are afraid to write diversely. People are scared to share what they are reading and buying. People are terrified of being branded a racist for liking a book that some people find problematic. People are scared to write and post reviews. People are afraid to comment on anything.

I wrote this post because I genuinely love this community and I don't want to see it burned to the ground. And I am freeing myself from the burden of storing up all my emotions inside. Drag my name through the dirt, at this point I don't care because I feel free. I vow from now on to share my opinions no matter the cost. I know this post will probably send lots of hate my way, but it is worth it. Especially if it can make the YA book community a safer place for all people. 

Do you have a response to this post that you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment. I promise to respond. Or if you'd like to interact more privately please direct message me on Twitter @yaperfectionist or email me at aperfectioncalledbooks(at)gmail(dot)com

28 comments:

  1. I think one of the primary questions has to be: What are we trying to achieve? If this is actually all about educating people, then how will we achieve that? Personally, I think a minuscule percentage of people have radically changed their minds on a large/important/complex topic based on one Tweet, one thread, one day of Twitter conversation. This type of change takes time, even if that's frustrating. People change their minds on big issues over weeks or months or even years, not minutes or hours.

    And the attitude that "Well, if twenty people tell them they're wrong, they'll probably agree!" also seems off to me. The current trend of gathering up other people to all go "educate" someone else is ineffective, in my opinion. Rightly or wrongly, the person feels picked on or bullied. And if they feel bullied (whether or not they are), they are not going to listen. So if this is about education, we need to think about how our conversations will best achieve our goals.

    However, I think there is a segment who are happy with driving off Twitter (or out of the book community entirely, or out of their career as an author entirely) people they believe are wrong. If purging the community of certain people with certain views is the goal, well, then that's a different matter that comes with a different strategy of communication.

    I don't want to tone police either. However, I think it's realistic to recognize that people react to whatever tone you choose. Sometimes it's worth thinking about what reaction you want and how you best can get it. I don't think making teens, or any readers, afraid to read or afraid to discuss books was ever anyone's goal, so this is something we need to look at as a community.

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  2. I think this is such a great post.

    Quite honestly, I'm sometimes scared to write a review now. I haven't had any backlash on Twitter, but I think that's mostly because my blog isn't "big" enough and I try to avoid these discussions at times.

    I want to try and educate myself more on diversity. And read more diverse books. But at the same time I'm afraid of writing those reviews because of the possible backlash. It's come to that point that I overthink every sentence, just in case I say something wrong.

    I've also seen a lot of subtweeting, and I feel like that's even worse. You can politely tell someone that their review has something offensive in it. But when you subtweet about it, how is the person supposed to know? Instead you're creating a negative community without telling the person themselves first.

    It's also made me look at every book so critically. For example, I was reading this sequel to a fantasy book I loved. And I saw some characters do certain stuff that made me think: is this racist? And it's good that I think about this, because I need to be aware of it. But then again, I wasn't sure whether I was over-analyzing something. Should I write something about it in my review later? Should I talk to someone about it? I didn't know, so I just stopped reading.

    As a white, heterosexual and cisgender person, I'm going to be wrong about representation at times. It's inevitable. But I just am too afraid at times to speak, which isn't helpful at all. For example, about certain terms. I never thought I wasn't allowed to use the word queer. But then I saw this thread saying that non-LGBTQIA+ people shouldn't use the word because it's one they reclaimed after it being used as a slur/insult. Can I not use the word queer now? Because I know that other people don't mind at all. It's all so confusing, and easy to offend someone into a backlash, that I often just shut up.

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  3. This is an excellent post. I haven't been a teen for a long time but I read, write and review YA, and I get very nervous when I see one of these Book Twitter lynchings. My current manuscript has a number of disabled characters, and I am quite frankly terrified of what will happen if it sells.

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  4. Amazing, amazing post, Rachel! This is a topic that I have thought about for a while too, but to be honest I've been too scared to put out my opinions because of every single thing that you mentioned. I don't get into the drama on twitter, but I see the stuff that some people say to others and it sickens me. And these people think that they're doing good too. It's just not the right way to go about things.

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  5. I haven't made experiences quite that negative and usually perceive the book blogging community as fairly positive, but I have noticed this trend peripherally when I heard about authors deleting their twitter account due to all the hate they received when something they wrote was deemed racist. Now while I believe it's good to speak up about these things, and I can understand when people are tired of educating others about basic human rights and decency, I also think that most mistakes are genuine and people would be open to learning from them. Hating on people for problematic statements probably isn't the most effective way to further understanding between each other. It's definitely a process, and it can be difficult to 'get it right' if you're writing about something that is outside your own experiences. For example, I've recently written a short story with a protagonist that was transgender, but after I wrote it, I researched some more online and felt like it may be a little problematic, so I didn't share it with anyone. I think authors and readers definitely have to be open to critique, but it's also true that some people overcompensate in trying to 'fix' things. It's also important to realise that opinions differ from person to person, so what one person views as problematic, another person celebrates as great representation. Sometimes things do need to be called out in order for them to improve, but it's not okay to hound people when they try their best. I think the most important thing we can do is to listen and respect each other's opinions.

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  6. Rachel, thank you so much for this post! Seriously. I've been feeling the exact same way! I hardly tweet anymore because things are blown out of proportion and taken the wrong way and I'm so scared to say anything in case I'm attacked. You're completely right, people are pointing fingers and telling others they're wrong but they're not educating them - so how is that productive? Seriously, thank you so much for this.

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  7. This is definitely the best post I've read in a long time, I love the idea of diverse books but when people are constantly ostracizing others for saying something wrong about it, it takes the beauty and fun of diversity away. I avoided Twitter for a long time because of all the hatred that people would direct against one another and seeing this continuously can get so tiring and exhausting. I hope people will learn that ostracizing people is never the way to go. Once again I love your post so much and you summed up all my thoughts so perfectly, well done for being so brave! xxx

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  8. :0

    This is a Wonderful Post

    I Am Truely Shocked and Saddened---This is So Scary!, I Had No Idea It Was This Bad. Check out The Backlash That Veronica Roth Has Gotten for Her New Book-Crave The Mark and The Extra Epilogue to Allegiant- Titled We Can Be Mended. It's Truely Awful.No Author Should Get Hate.. I Have Been So Araid of Writing Reviews on Goodreads.I Post My Reviews on Amazon Instead...and I Am Also Afraid of Getting Hate.. Just Because I Ship Rey and Kylo Ren. I Believe That They are NOT Related at All. I Don't Want Hate Towards Me Because of This. No-One Should Get Hate Because of Who They Ship

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  9. Well done for writing this (and hitting publish). I think there is a certain type of activism, which isn't unique to book Twitter, that's got no room for debate and differences of opinion. On one hand we're all meant to be reading more diverse books, and helping fight discrimination in a wider environment, but then if you talk about it you're taking the space away from less privileged people. I'm just quietly trying to diversify my reading for all the nice people I've met who deserve better recognition but I don't want to shout about it. On some days I also feel like if you're not shouting about something people assume you don't care (not just on the books front either). This is meant to be fun, right?

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  10. This post is amazing! I have to admit, I've been feeling the same way recently, Book Twitter seems to have got so nasty in the last few years, it wasn't like this when I first joined the community in 2014. I don't tend to get involved in conversations on Twitter because I'm afraid people will attack me for my opinions and I avoid doing any diversity related posts on my blog for the same reason, though to be honest, I'd rather listen to discussions of diversity from the people that it directly affects, as a straight, white woman, I would rather listen to POC, LGBTQA+, disabled etc people talk about issues of diversity because they are more directly affected by rep in books than I am, but even when people on Twitter do talk about issues that affect me, I feel too scared to actual participate in discussions, in case I get attacked by people. I want to read and support diverse books, but I feel like as someone said above, the push for diversity on Twitter is so aggressive, that it's likely to put people off reading diversely which is obviously not the intended affect. I was 17 when I first started blogging three years ago, but book twitter seemed a lot less toxic then, I can't even imagine being a teen in this community now, it's great that you're speaking out about this and hopefully your post will inspire other teens to speak out too!

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  11. Thanks so much for posting this -- I hope that you will inspire other teen bloggers to step forward and speak honestly about whatever is on their minds.
    I'm not a big social media person to begin with, but the atmosphere on Book Twitter has been something that's bothered me for years. After watching countless, endlessly re-tweeted arguments over who took too many ARCs or what author dissed the YA genre or what blogger copied another blogger's meme, I backed away from Twitter to focus more on visiting blogs, posting on Goodreads. etc.
    Diversity and positive representation of diversity are such important subjects that I hope the book community will find other ways and other places to have honest discussions about what we could and should be doing better. I'd like to learn, and I know others would as well.

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  12. Great post, Rachel. It's really nice to see people starting to stand up. I think the Twitter arguments are ridiculous. What ever happened to having an honest debate over something? I personally stay out of it all because I just don't like to get suckered into arguments. That's why for the most part I stay out of all the political and diverse conversations that have been happening the past year. But I've never liked getting into those conversations ever. I much prefer talking about the books themselves. Not whether or not it had enough diversity in it. Though I do like diversity in my books because there is so much diversity in our world. But I don't think it should be pushed to the point it's being pushed into. I totally see what you mean about the diversity issue starting to look negative.

    I don't think people should be afraid of stating their opinions. But I totally understand why people are, because I've noticed in the book community in the past couple years, it has started to really divide into cliques and it's kind of been feeling like Mean Girls and high school all over again. I haven't been in high school in almost a decade, but I am bringing a child into this world this year and I fear for her future in school with all the bullying attacks that are happening not only in person but cyberly as well.

    I hope that you've inspired other people and teens to speak up and not to feel afraid. No one should feel afraid to state an opinion. It's one of the things that make us unique. All the different opinions we can have.

    And I feel so bad for those that are writers and are now scared to write their stories because it is either diverse and could get picked apart by these bullies or it's not diverse enough and will also get picked apart by these bullies. I'm a writer and I too struggle with that at times. But I hope that this post also urges those writers to write regardless of that fear.

    love you Rachel! Hope all is well and thank you for stepping up for those teenagers <3

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    1. Also, this post inspired me to type up a discussion post about this, because it really hit me about how writers are now scared to write their stories. If you care to check it out here's the link. I linked you within it. Thanks love <3

      On Fear Over Writing & Reading Diverse Books

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  13. My thoughts on this topic is constantly changing the more I read and listen on Twitter. In regards to your post, I agree and disagree with some things.

    As to the community at the moment, I have to say that I do see the changes. For one, the calling out of authors, reviewers, tweets, etc. Mainly the use of screenshots, subtweets, rather than actual discussion. However to be honest, this has been happening before the focus on diversity and I'm not surprised that that aspect has not changed. In a perfect world, I would like there to be more confrontation, but it really is hard to separate emotion from tweeting. Also another thing to note is that it is really hard to infer the tone from a tweet/message/text, and therefore many things come off as aggressive even if it wasn't intended.

    Another important thing to note is that we as book bloggers and reviewers have been pointing out problematic aspects of books since reviews existed. The change that is now happening is the increased number of threads on Twitter that now address this, and from my observation, the talk about not promoting or even reading/reviewing/buying such books. I'm not surprise such discussions have moved to Twitter, as it allows for a wider audience and more interaction. I also agree with the one anonymous quote about people creating threads shaming and shunning others, in which it may only be done for the RTs. However this is really only some people in the community. (Unfortunately they do have loud voices, and are white).

    But with that said, there are some books out there that are racist. You're right in that it may not mean that the author themselves are racist. However, it does reflect on them as to how they respond to readers being hurt by their books. It's very hard to not be defensive, and just like the advice we give authors about reading reviews, it's probably best for them to not blow it up even more than it is. Meaning not interacting, or better yet, apologize and do better next time. Because you're right, people do have different opinions. If I noticed something is inaccurate in a book, I would immediately draw attention to it in my review. I would hope that others respect me for that, and don't accuse me of being too sensitive. Including the author.

    Overall, I think it's up to the reader to decide on whether they want to support a book or not. In my case, I won't be supporting The Continent (unless it's changed) or Carve The Mark because of what some POC have said about them. Of course, you can do whatever you want, it's up to you. I'm not about to shame people for buying the books they want. However, it does become a problem when people say "I'll judge it for myself if it's racist", especially when they aren't from that marginalized background (Of course, your post doesn't talk about this specifically, but I figured I would comment about it anyways because this comment is so long already. Sorry).

    Though I don't think your post is absolutely perfect (I do see some tweets to you that cover this), it's given me more motivation to get out of my blogging and reading slump. I've been a little hesitant to read and review Wait For Me (WWII book), but I will do it anyways. Mainly because I know that people will speak up when I mess up, and therefore letting me edit my review to reflect that. This doesn't mean that I won't change my rating or my overall love (or hate, who knows, maybe I won't even like it!) for the book, but at least I can link to other perspectives, ones from marginalized background. And I think that is the most important part, letting marginalized people who have been hurt by said book speak up.

    Sorry for the long comment. And I hope this didn't read as aggressive. I think I did a good job with choosing the right words to accurately portray my opinion.

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  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rachel! You are brave to speak up and I'm so glad you did. YA books are for young adults like yourself, though of course anyone can read them. But you are the ones we write for! And your opinion matters. Please continue to blog, review, and Tweet about books. I want to hear your opinions!

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  15. Go you! I support this post and, though I don't have a huge readership, shared the link. Hope you get a lot more exposure for this. I'm seeing it make the rounds in "Book twitter," where it will do the most good!

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  16. Excellent post! I admire your courage and am grateful you brought this problem out into the open, where it an be discussed in ways that aren't toxic.

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  17. Putting the disclaimer doesn't change the fact that a lot of how this was worded in a way that erases Indigenous and Black people's struggle and fight.
    I don't know what exactly you meant by separating: this is what I got, but labels are fine. Yes, I would've liked them to have never existed but they were made to try to drown me but you know what? I'm proud of how I am and where I come from. Differences should be celebrated and trust me, there are differences. When the day comes that my people aren't being murdered and enslaved for being Indigenous, Brown, & Black, then we can let go of labels. Suggesting we get rid of them now, at a time where my being is under attack by the whole representative of the United States, comes off as if you're trying to erase my existence. Yes, I do have distrust of people who have been proven to profit off my hurt and existence. I've found comfort in labels. It's trust. It's people knowing exactly what I mean without remarks like "ew, you put oil in your hair?" or "why do you talk like that? Speak English."
    White people depend on Asians to stay neutral, profit off anti-blackness and anti-indig., and piggback off Black & Brown movements. There's privilege in being Asian.
    Books were called out for being racist because they are (in for the use of "savages"). Racism isn't an opinion and is not for anyone to decide, except for the group that is affected. If a book is about Asians, Imma stay in my lane & boost Asian voices. It's not my place to say what my "opinion" is. And yeah, it does make me uncomfortable when people rave about books that directly hurt me.
    Someone telling you how to promote diversity is absolutely awful. You can promote it in whichever way you can/like, as long as marginalized voices are boosted & not hurt.
    I have seen White or Asian allies be aggressive when it comes to educating when they have no need to be. It needs to change.
    Being black and indigenous is a different story. My people have been fighting since the beginning of time. If you don't know things by now, its because the white man has silenced us. I'm sorry but I can't promise you that I'll be nice. Someone says something untrue about my people (which I have to deal with multiple times a day being who I am), I honestly don't owe you the time to educate. I can't do that. I'm tired. I relive the trauma of colonization and slavery when I see things like this. 1/2

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  18. I have a right to be angry, to be mad, without you (people, not necessarily you) perpetuating the stereotype that Brown & Black woman are violent by calling us "mobs."
    People shouldn't be afraid of callouts. It's how you learn. I wish people had called out me when I said some ignorant things about my own people. Decolonizing has been a blessing for me. And things do need to change in the diversity movement. Asians and White people also have to unlearn their racism or antiblack or antinative thoughts. This can be done by)
    1.) Listening to Indigenous and Black voices. We're not always gonna be in the mood to educate due to our struggle and hurt, but there are several times where we do make our own posts/threads on our own will. Don't take these for granted. Read. Listen. It may make you uncomfortable but realizing you're not perfect is the 1st step.
    2.) Educate your fellow Whites or Asians (on what you know is for sure). I only can't because I'm exhausted of being disrespected and murdered. If you can't put things into words yourself, find a thread/post by an Indigenous or Black person on the subject and send it to whoever needs it so they can grow.
    3.) If it's about Asians, trust me I'm right behind you. Do your thing boo. Lead the convo. Speak your mind. I'll boost. I'll help if you're hurt because I know what it's like.
    4.) I said I would've liked people calling me out, I understand not everyone is the same. You can slightly prevent this by using google. Like I said, there's several posts by Indigenous or Black people where we address issues. You can do your own learning like this.
    5.) Instead of making statements, just go for it and ask a question (ex. are indigenous people offended by ___, do you go by ___). It may still sting inside, but you'll better get a straight up answer like this. Honestly, if people would just ASK because I know there's still some things you won't be able to find on the Internet.
    6.) If you make a mistake, apologize. Directly to the people you hurt. I get what you're saying that some allies (I've seen especially white ones) won't accept that. But trust me, I'm here and if it's a sincere apology, I will forgive you. Do what you can of unlearning and relearning and if you still make a mistake, I'm here. From one fellow teen to another, I know. You can learn and grow.
    You were brave in posting this and even after all my thoughts and bullet points, I want you to know I'm here. I'm here for teens. I'm here for all poc. I'm here for unlearning and relearning. It's ok.

    2/2

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  19. I'm going to be short and sweet. Thank you for writing this post. <3

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  20. I saw this Twitter thread, and I just wish I could have hugged Sierra. I admit, I no longer go on Twitter much, because it has become the ugliest place on social media. Most of the things I see are destructive not constructive and it is bleeding in all parts of our lives. I understand that some of the people out there just have so much passion, but one of the first things they teach you about communicating with people is to not go on the attack. If you want someone to listen to you, you cannot put them on the offense. I feel like all the social media has stunted our ability to interact properly.

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  21. 100% this. Thank you for voicing what many people are feeling.

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  22. I think one element of it is that when you ask 'what are we trying to achieve' that 'we' aren't one entity. Every individual has their own thing they are trying to achieve, and every individual has their own means for trying to achieve that thing and the right to do it. Books are complex things. There are more than two sides to every argument.

    I do not think we have a right to ask people to educate us. If someone posts a blog or writes a tweet series explaining why they think a book is problematic, that *is* educating. We listen. We either agree, disagree, or decide to get more information. That's learning. I especially think it's presumptuous to ask someone to educate the author of the book they are reviewing. They wrote a review. The author can accept it or not accept it. Would you ask someone who wrote a one star review on a book because they thought the plot was boring to educate the author on how to make a less boring plot? Of course not. So why would you expect someone who gives a book a poor review for problematic elements to then educate?

    With that said, I applaud your courage for writing the post. Meaningful discussion is always a good thing.

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    1. As far as I can tell, I used the word "achieve" in my comment, and Rachel did not use it once in her post, so I suppose you actually replying to me.

      What I meant is that many people say they are trying to educate people; I am not making a statement on whether they should or are obligated to. But if they WANT to and state that as their own intended goal, then I think there are more and less effective ways of accomplishing that goal. There are ways you can persuade people and ways you can make them shut down.

      I don't think anyone in this conversation is saying that diversity is a problem or that diversity advocates are a problem, just that there is a very small percentage of people who come across as extremely aggressive. If someone WANTS to educate me, chooses to do so of their own accord, which should they do as a first step? 1) Message me privately about something I said or did that they disagree with and initiate a conversation? or 2) Take a screenshot of what I said, tweet it to their 1000 followers, and encourage those 1000 followers to tweet the screenshot to THEIR followers and then form a large group of people who all come together to tell me that I'm wrong? If your own stated goal is education and changing people's minds, I think option 1 is more effective, that's all.

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  23. Thank you for the post. The YA twitter community does seem dominated by some people who think they are the mean girls in a high school. I've personally decided to take action of my own: I will never promote, review, or buy any books by the people who have revealed their dreadful character. Let them all buy each other's books.

    Take the VOYA petition. It was the full force they could muster of their own ranks, family, friends, and sympathetic moderates who are not part of their clique. And what was that number? About six-hundred.

    So if the core group of these loud voices is far smaller than that, we are not talking about a great number of people.

    It is very easy to avoid spending any money on anything they produce, and to discourage local libraries and schools and personal acquaintances from doing the same. There are diversity proponents who advocate in positive ways who do deserve money for their books, and we should buy them. They are not the people we are all thinking about. I don't even need to name names here.

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  24. Thank you, Rachel. I've seen authors and bloggers encourage diverse reads in positive ways, and it is always more effective than blowing up some blogger's mentions with vitriol because they gave five stars to the banned book of the moment. And using speech that is deliberately exclusive doesn't help social justice warriors either. "Stay in your lane; you're white. Stay in your lane, you're straight. You're cis. You're abled. Etc." Your opinions only have credibility if you are marginalized with at least two labels displayed in your twitter bio like medals. Everyone is clamoring for a label because without one, other aspects of your identity deemed too "mainstream" are skewed negative and used against you. Suddenly, being heterosexual or not having enough melanin is lobbed at you like an insult and it justifies you being told you don't get a seat at the table. Otherwise you are told by others what to read and what to write. Being marginalized does not give you the license to police anyone's bookshelf or unleash your followers on dissenting voices in blind fury.

    This community won't survive as a place of positivity, support, and acceptance if the atmosphere remains so negative. I have seen Rachel highlight diverse books while managing not to deliberately insult anyone in the process. You don't have to tear down one author in order to lift up another. You shouldn't have to pretend you hate a book or love a book in order to 'fit in'. Teens get enough of that in high school. They don't need it bleeding into their book communities too. Stop exalting mediocre books written by straight white rich women just because it's popular and stop exalting mediocre books written by gay black one-legged women just to avoid being called racist or homophobic. You are allowed individual tastes.

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  25. This is a great post! I'm not really in the blogging community, as I only read a couple and don't have my own, and I don't have Twitter, but I'm in the book community on other platforms, and I agree.

    On diversity, I am all for it, but I don't see why anyone needs to be attacked for not reading the supposed amount of books with diverse characters. Even when people were setting reading goals for the start of the year, I noticed a lot of people saying, "I need to read more diverse books." As much as I support that, there is no reason for that to be a goal. You should read a book because you are interested in the story, not so that you can say you read a book with a POC, disabled and/or LGBTQ+ main character. It then, as was mentioned, makes you scared to say that you did not enjoy a book, even if it had nothing to do with the characters.

    Something else I notice is that the opinions of actual teens goes to waste. A lot of the people who are getting at others for what books they like or dislike aren't even teenagers themselves. Now, while there's no problem with adults reading YA, they seem to forget that they are not the target age group anymore. However, they will have their opinion, and when it comes that a teen disagrees, it's "Well you're a bit young, maybe you'll understand later."

    I hope that something improves within the next year.

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  26. I definitely think there is a problem in some cases. Some people can take things too far. No one should attack or shame people, even if they do something wrong. However, many people are simply attempting to educate others on which books are problematic, even if they do so in a way that may seem harsh. I don't think that they should be discouraged from doing that either. I like many books that are problematic. Some of them are my favorites. So I understand the feeling that when a book you like is attacked or you're questioned for reading it, it can feel personal. But consider this: it also feels personal to the people who that book has harmed. Everyone has problematic books/movies/TV shows they enjoy. And that's ok. But what isn't ok is excusing the problematic elements. To the person who is afraid to continue writing their book because of its diversity, keep writing. But make sure that you do your research, hire sensitivity readers, and treat characters that are part of marginalized identities that are not yours with respect. People on Twitter do not want to tear your book apart or hate on you for writing it. In fact, they want to love it. And I'm sure they will as long as you write a book that is respectful of everyone. If not, and you get criticized, listen to the criticism and do better in the future. I understand how you're feeling. I used to feel the same way. But then I realized that criticism, even harsh criticism is how we grow. Advocating for diversity is important and it can be so personal for many people so sometimes people can be intense. But I don't think the answer is for those who are being intense to shut up or change the way they advocate. I think everyone needs to be respected. You're definitely right about that. And perhaps we have to find a way to do that. But I don't personally believe it's done by telling anyone how to get their message across. Also, there are many people who advocate for diversity who aren't harsh about it at all. So follow them if you want. I guess my comment is just adding more questions than answers but I hope it's a productive addition to this discussion anyway. :)

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I read, value, and cherish each and every comment. Although I don't have time to respond to most of them, I make every effort to comment back on your blog! :)