Paying Lipservice to Diversity


I promised myself I wasn’t gonna be one of those people.

weneeddiversebooks

I’m gonna be one of those people.

It started out harmlessly enough. It’s PitchWars time again and even though I don’t have a MS to submit, I’m interested in which mentors would be a good fit for my style.

Out of thirty or so mentors available for the Adult and New Adult categories, a dozen were interested in romance and/or urban fantasy. I also made a note of the sci-fi lovers because one of these days I’ll get to that half finished space opera taking up space on my hard drive.

I have a litmus test of sorts when it comes to this diversity thing. Too many times there’s a lot of cheerleading for diversity but not a lot of action. I can only speak to the Romance and SFF genres from the perspective of a Black woman. If I don’t see other women of color on someone’s favorite reads list, you’re getting the side eye.

L.A. Banks, Seressia Glass, Brenda Jackson, Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Nalini Singh, Marjorie Liu, Daniel José Older, Rebekah Witherspoon, Beverly Jenkins. All of these are authors of color in the sci-fi, urban fantasy, romance genres. Out of thirty-two mentors, one mentioned Singh as one of her favorite reads.

What this tells me is it’s more of the same shit, different day. It’s another example of congratulate them for what they say, but don’t actually look at what they do. How can I trust someone to mentor me when they can’t list one POC as a favorite in my genres of choice? How will I know my story will be treated with respect and not whitewashed by the mentors biases? Why should I bother applying for mentorship when it doesn’t look like the mentors would enjoy what I write?

I love the idea of PitchWars and look forward to participating one of these days. Maybe, by the time I’m ready, diversity will be more than a hashtag.

TL;DR and for those in the cheap seats:

FOR YOU, IT’S DIVERSITY. FOR ME, IT’S REAL LIFE.

I AM NOT A HASHTAG!

 


About Akaria Gale

Akaria Gale lives in Brooklyn with her husband, children and a disgruntled cat. She is a native New Yorker, slow cooker enthusiast, hard cider advocate who occasionally finds time to write about the secret world right underneath our noses. One day she hopes to give winter the middle finger and become a beach bum.

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