Anti-Diversity, White Privilege, and Centering

So there’s a little dumpster-fire video floating around that has me needing to share some thoughts. If you’re on Twitter, you already know, if not, let’s just say it’s 20 minutes of white privilege, centering the discussion, anti-diversity and racism rolled into one vomit-inducing video that tries to discredit the idea that we need diversity in literature.

Full disclosure: I have not watched the video. But how can you protest something you haven’t seen?! Here’s why: because I have many, many writing, reading, and book blogging friends who have watched it. They forced themselves to sit through it, or read the transcript. I trust them through years of discourse on all things reading and writing. I read excerpts of the video through these friends, and decided I didn’t need to subject myself to this kind of vitriol. It’s self-preservation. Right now I’m just NOT-THIS-SHIT-AGAIN angry, instead of WHERE-IS-SHE-I-WANT-TO-RIP-HER-APART angry. Sometimes you have to take care of your own emotional well-being.

But there’s another reason I have no intention of watching that hate-filled video. It’s because that woman doesn’t deserve any more clicks. I hate that she’s getting so much attention for this, and I bet she’s twirling her pencil-thin mustache and wringing her long-fingered hands while cackling with maniacal glee over all the buzz with her name attached to it. I heard her video is monetized. I don’t know exactly what that means or how it works, but I’m guessing with every click she gets more money due to advertisement. I won’t contribute to that, and I implore you not to either.

In fact, I kind of don’t want to even say her name. It’s like Trump and Voldemort (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named), but giving a person that much power is ineffective. And I feel as a writer I need to know those who don’t support the same beliefs I have for the publishing industry. It never occurred to me to have a list of writers and bloggers that I don’t wish to work with, but now I’m seeing that value. Even that gives me creeping feelings of distaste, but here’s the thing: she’s a book blogger (vlogger?) and if in the future she wanted to review my book or work with me in some way, and I don’t know or remember the horrid things she said in 2016? What kind of person am I, working towards equality in the publishing industry, if I work with her? Yes, we all make mistakes, and hopefully learn from them, but there are limits to that. I don’t care if she has a complete turn around and Jesus smites the evil thoughts from her head. She did something awful. Maybe she can be forgiven as a person someday. But professionally? I think that ship has sailed.

So here’s the name: Bre Faucheux. I’d really rather no one watches the video, but I get that maybe you need to see it for yourself. That’s your right and I appreciate that you don’t want to just take my word for it. I’m only able to do that with some friends I trust implicitly. There’s plenty of discussion on Twitter if you’re interested, so you can easily get the gist without clicking the video. But do as you see fit.

I do feel it’s important for me to say something right here, though: Bre Faucheux, you do not represent me or my beliefs! You do not speak for me as a white writer or reader! You are wrong that we don’t need diversity in literature. Especially children’s literature. In fact, you are proof that we do need it. Maybe had you read a few more books that reflect a world unlike your homogeneous white thinking you’d be more open-minded and less disgusting. Maybe if there was more diversity in children’s literature we writers wouldn’t take such offense at your racist words. We could just brush you off as the annoying fly you are, but that’s not the reality of the publishing world we live in, so we have to speak out. We have to fight the bigotry. We have to make room for the positivity and push out the hate.

And most importantly, if there was more diversity in children’s literature we wouldn’t take your hate and diseased-thinking as an attack on the very kids we write for. You came for our kids, for our readers, for those who have small voices and don’t see themselves represented in books or media regularly, and if they do, it’s often done poorly. This is unforgivable. Just like Trump, you’re a big fish preying on and benefiting from minority identities. And I won’t just stand by and see that happen.

But what can I do? I’m one unpublished author in a sea of social media. Admittedly, maybe what I can do isn’t much, but I’m going to do it. I’m going to read books that reflect the wide range of the world including race, gender, orientation, disabilities, religion, locality. I’m going to read and promote those stories, especially #OwnVoices, because we need mirrors and windows, and #OwnVoices stories are the best for all of that. I’m going to write diversely, not because it’s a trend or I feel I have to, but because I love to. Because my imagination doesn’t work in only white/straight/cis/Christian/able perspective. And I’m going to research and learn and sometimes decide it’s not my place to write that story.

And the biggest thing I can do is listen. Read. Learn. I can try to understand, and even if I don’t understand, I know that though that perspective doesn’t reflect me or my experience, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I can continue to do this every day. Especially not centering the discussion on myself. I don’t talk much on Twitter when it comes to the discussion of diversity in lit, mainly because I still have a lot to learn, and because this discussion isn’t about me. I can learn from it, love it, participate to some degree, but I have to understand that first and foremost, this discussion is for the kids who do not see themselves reflected in the books they read and the movies and TV shows they watch.

Which is probably what Bre Faucheux needs to learn the most. Promoting diversity in literature isn’t about what chances and opportunities we give to authors of marginalized identities, or the perception that we are taking those opportunities away from white/straight/cis/Christian/able writers. It’s about what the juvenile readers will gain by seeing themselves, by seeing people other than themselves, by learning empathy and gaining perspective that they won’t see in their everyday lives. If you want to center this discussion, center it on the people we do this for in the first place: young readers.