Why should we highlight diverse authors?

Earlier today someone posted on a facebook group about horror books that they were looking for material by diverse authors. Entirely too many people got outraged in the sense of “I would never pick a book based on race/ethnicity/gender/etc.!” And of course the equivalents of “I don’t see color” come up. The pernicious idea behind this is almost laudable: they believe (or at least some of them do) that they are treating everyone equally.

Except, no, they really aren’t. That attitude only makes sense if all the people around you are on a level playing field. Not only are marginalized voices not on a level playing field–they may be on a different playing field entirely. Most editors at large publishers are white, and they often see all books by, let’s say, Black people, as equivalent. So there’s a certain attitude of “oh we’ve already published one book like this” when the only major similarity between the two books is that their authors are Black. Black authors’ books often get placed in a different area of the store where white people aren’t likely to go looking, rather than being shelved under genre like white people’s. Thus editors can say, “well see, there isn’t any interest in your romance novels,” when really they haven’t been distributed, publicized, or marketed the same as white people’s books. Someone actually had the balls to argue that now that we have self-publishing there was no more gatekeeping in books and publishing and frankly my jaw hit the floor.

The thing is, if we say “I don’t see color,” and “I don’t care what color the author is,” then we don’t see the inequalities around us, which means nothing gets done about them. Until such a time as we really are on an equal playing field, we need to step up and be a part of reading books by marginalized people. You don’t have to read outside your comfort zone to do this. There are plenty of authors of color putting out your favorite style of horror novel, for example–you just aren’t hearing about them. And the more of an audience there is for these books, the more likely the big publishing companies are to buy more books by marginalized authors.

Here are a few lists to get you started:

If you know of additional lists of marginalized genre authors (this blog tends to concentrate on horror, SFF, apocalyptic, etc.), then please do add them in the comments!

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