Last year, instead of the Pop Sugar Challenge, I thought about telling you my real resolution. But I wasn't sure if I could keep it, so I didn't.
And then I thought about my Resolution and I thought - no - that's not Realistic. I need to make that goal something I can stick to.
You see, I didn't want to abandon my beloved YA Dystopia/SciFi/Fantasy novels, not entirely. My only real requirement to enjoy a book is that a girl falls in love with a boy.
Or a girl.
Or a boy with a boy.
Or a gender non conforming person with a person who does or does not conform to gender binaries. (Although, to be honest, I haven't read that last one yet.)
To be perfectly honest, the vast majority are girls who fall in love with boys. Often plural. Love triangles run rampant.
But I digress. My 2017 Resolution. My secret goal? Was to read only Black authors for a year.
I think it was after I read Small Great Things and near lost my mind with how problematic that book seemed. (Did I post that blog post? Update: I did. But I'm not sure I meant to because it definitely had not been proof read.) ...Will I post this one? I don't know. As I write this, I can't help but ask that question because I know the truth. I am terrified to write about this. I am afraid that someone will criticize my White Lady Feelings about Black Lives. I'm even more terrified of being somehow congratulated. In fact, I want no one to comment on my feelings about posting this, because how brave is it, really, to post this one blog post? To admit to you that, yes, I made an attempt to read more Black Authors. I was successful,because I forgave myself the original "only" and just said "more." I did that because I was afraid...no, not afraid. I knew, that the "only" would make reading feel like a chore. And I would quit reading then because I work hard and reading is not my job and reading should not be a chore.
So I failed at only and succeeded at more. (Has there ever been a year where I read only White Authors? ....How many?)
So what was the point of this experiment to read more-Black-Authors-not-only? Well. I don't know. Trump became president and I thought maybe this small act could change something. Like the guy who threw starfish back into the ocean.
Have you heard that story? Dude 1 is walking down the beach and sees a figure approaching. He realizes Dude 2 is bending down and throwing starfish back into the ocean. They'd gotten washed ashore by the tide. Dude 1 asks Dude 2, "what are you doing?" Even though it is obvious, Dude 2 tells him. Then Dude 1 points out the obvious, "but there are thousands of starfish washed up on the shore, do you really think you can make a difference?" Dude 2 bends down, picks up a starfish, and throws it back into the ocean. "I made a difference to that one," he replies.
Did I make a difference?
Perhaps no. The ocean, after all, still washes starfish onto the beach with the tide.
Trump is still president.
(Here's the real secret, friend.)
I made a difference to me.
I changed a small stereotype in my head.
You see, where I grew up all of my teachers were white. Not surprising, approximately 80% of all teachers in the workforce are white.
At least, I think they were. My memory is not 100%, so someone may find that to be wrong. They might remember differently.
Can you think of your stereotype for teacher?
How about professor?
I had a professor in undergrad who was the epitome of my personal professor stereotype.
This professor taught my Honors Humanities class. I thought he was absolutely brilliant. I took all 3 Freshman Honors classes from him, one right after the other.
He was average-to-tall in height. Had pure white hair that would Einstein out (in my memory. Perhaps his hair was more gray than white. I took this class 10 years ago, you'll have to forgive my memory again). During class conversations, he would lean against the chalkboard, and his sweater with the elbow patches would get smears of chalk down the back. He never seemed to notice.
He was older, white, and wore sweaters with elbow patches. Is this your stereotype too?
Well, here's the shift. When you spend a year reading Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ibram X. Kendi, bell hooks and Michelle Alexander and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, you might notice a shift.
You, like me, might notice that when you think of "professors" and "expererts" you might picture bell hooks or Ibram X. Kendi. Black may seem more synonymous with expert than it did before. It's hard for me to read Ta-Nehisi Coates and not feel a bit inferior, because he's brilliant. His knowledge of history far surpasses mine.
Have you figured out the real secret? It wasn't just my resolution.
The secret is I was racist.
That is to say, I held racist views. I didn't think I was racist. You might not have thought I was racist.
I still might be.
How does that thought sit with you? Do you get defensive and want to tell me how you're not racist? I get that. Me too. I would like to defend myself. But if I take the time to prove how not racist I am, I am not taking the time to unpack how racist I still am.
More comfortable with cisgender.
I don't have the words for all that I need to unpack. So I'll read. And I'll listen. And I will unbox and dismantle all that I can.
I will apologize when I realize I'm wrong.
Happy reading. I will happily take any suggestions for books written by someone who is not white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian, or living above the poverty line. If you can think of more identities to add to that list, let me know that too.
(If you want to see the complete list of books I read last year, check out my GoodReads Year in Books it does not include books by 3 of the Black authors I listed, because I haven't finished them. I am a giant poser.)