About two months ago, there was a shakeup in at least one corner of the publishing industry, regarding diversity, and when the fall-out hit social media, I had the privilege of reading some very informative posts, threads, and blogs on the subject, and yes, I was shocked and appalled. Still am.
For two reasons:
- that racism could be alive and well and living in the publishing industry,
- that I had NO clue, not even an inkling there was a problem.
Before I share some of what I learned along the way, you need to understand my perspective because it’s probably different from 90% of the people reading this today.
I am Canadian. I have never “understood” the racial issues of the USA because I have not experienced what it is like to live in that country.
I grew up wondering what all the fuss was about when I saw riots on television. What was the big deal that some people had a different skin color than mine? Why would I care? To me, a person was a person and deserved my respect.
Until VERY recently, I still held the view of “what’s the big deal?”
Because I had NO idea. None. Nada. Nope, not a clue.
And then I read about women of color—authors in the same writing organization I was once a part of—sitting down at a table full of authors and having every one of them get up and leave.
What? Really? How could this be? Just because of the color of someone’s skin?
Then I read about more incidents and was appalled.
And I remembered sitting in the lobby at the end of the last national conference I attended and somehow ending up in conversation with a woman of color, and how I thought she was like me, sort of shy at first, and then we both opened up more, and I shared some information about something and she seemed so grateful, and I kept thinking about her after that, and what a nice lady she was. It never occurred to me that others might have enjoyed meeting her as I had. I hope that is not the case, because it would be their loss, but harder on her heart than theirs.
Back to the research.
I read about a publishing house leaving it’s Rita nominated Author of Color, out of a book signing with all their other Rita nominated authors… again, I was appalled. In my country, there are actually laws against behavior like this.
Courtney Milan’s presentation on twitter was hugely eye-opening.
After the ridiculous arrest of two men at a coffee shop, I read an article written by a female, police officer, and was astounded to learn that she too was treated differently in her job because of the color of her skin and/or her heritage.
The articles and the learning has continued and will continue forever. I will never again close my eyes to the issues faced by my fellow human beings.
I will never again say, “I don’t see color,” because now I know that I damned well better see color because otherwise, I’m not helping right the wrongs.
I now have a vague understanding of what it must be like to always know you will be treated differently. I can relate just the tiniest little bit because as a woman, over the age of fifty, I experienced bullying in the workplace because of my age I didn’t “fit in.” I will never forget how that felt, and my heart aches in knowing there are people of color who have never known anything else.
The next time I see football players taking a knee, I will stand and applaud. And now, when I watch this short speech, my heart aches for the reality, and I’m determined to be part of the change I want to see in this world.
The great Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
And Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I have put the two great quotes together and live by the words,
“I will be the change I want to see in the world, because now that I know better, I can do better.”
And how exactly will I be the change?
- By speaking out.
- By sharing the names of authors of color so others can discover their books.
- By continuing to write books with culturally diverse characters.
My latest books include glimpses into the lives of people indigenous to North America, and I am now immersed in research for a book about a woman of color who is about to join the Meyers Security team of my Intrepid Women Series.
Part of the research process lead me to read a book I highly recommend because it is well written, fast-paced, and extremely hard to put down. THE HATE U GIVE, by Angie Thomas, gave me a remarkable glimpse into a world I knew nothing about.
I’m currently building a list of other books by authors of color and it will be available on my blog in the next week or so.
If you love romance, here are a couple of other resources to check out: