I keep seeing this discussion of good books versus diverse books.
"I want to read diversely but I also want to read good books."
"I value quality over specific topic." (yes, that was a real tweet but a real live white person trying to defend their decision to not read diversely.)
Brace yourself, here's some shocking news for y'all not in the know: Books can be good and diverse. At the same time. Can you believe that?? Is your mind blown?
Let me explain to you what I hear when you say that you want to read good books instead of diverse books. When you tell me that you prefer quality books over diverse books, you're telling me (and every other PoC, Queer, or marginalized voice) that you think our stories are boring. You're saying that you think marginalized authors are not capable of writing good books. You are playing into every white fantasy of white people being smarter, more articulate, more creative than any PoC in the room. You're saying that a marginalized author can't possible build a fantasy world as rich and deep as your favorite white authors. You are continuing centuries of oppressing marginalized voices.
I hear people say that they don't want to waste money on books (diverse books) because they might not like them, but you'll gladly spend cash on white authors that booktubers have promoted that you've never read. If you're willing to invest money in unknown white authors but hesitate to invest in marginalized authors, the problem isn't that you're afraid of the book not being good. The problem is that you think marginalized authors are not worth your money or your time. That's racism. That's sexism. That's ableism. That's homophobia.
In the last few weeks, I've been given a few books for review. The only one that was any good was by an unknown diverse author (Tristan J. Tarwater to be exact and I highly recommend you check her out here). The best books I've read this year have been by diverse authors.
I want to say this as clearly and as loudly as possible. IF YOU ARE WILLING TO TAKE CHANCES ON UNKNOWN WHITE AUTHORS BUT NOT ON MARGINALIZED AUTHORS, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.
I can't force anyone to read more diversely. I can't. But I'm also not going to turn my head and let you pretend that you have "standards" that just happen to include only reading cishet white authors who write about cishet white characters. You might not read diversely but trust me when I say that everyone in the room has their eyes on you and have figured you out.