Sunday, February 14, 2010

i don't do challenges (and why i'm not a racist for it)

So. I've recently gotten one or two comments questioning my morality, I'm sure have something to do with the Bloomsbury-whitewashing-backlash. A certain commenter sent me an email the other day basically saying that I'm showing a lot of racist/bigoted traits by not joining the GLBT and POC challenges. As a bleeding heart liberal, I was pretty taken aback by these comments. But I can definetly see where said commentor's coming from. I mean, during the whitewashing uproar, when everyone was writing their posts on the matter, not only do I make it a point not to mention it (unless you count the little Also note I added to my review of Magic Under Glass a while ago), but I also commented on several post basically telling everyone to calm down. Y'see, I was in the mindset that there was little anyone can do about the matter, and we shouldn't get all up in arms about something as silly as the cover of a book. "Isn't it the contents that matters?" I said, "Why should we hate on good books just cuz the publishers can't get their shit together?"

I never went back to look at the response to these comments, but obviously people were a bit perturbed. But now that Bloomsbury has, in fact, changed the cover because of the backlash, I now stand corrected. There is something we can do about whitewashing covers, so I am sorry for that particular statement. I don't take back anything, but I apologize if I've come off as racist or something. Cuz I'm not.

--On a side note: I'd like to bring the term racist into question. My definetion is "to treat someone differently because of their race". This includes treating someone extra-nice because of their race. Not that anyone in the blogesphere as done this for all I know, but I'm just saying. I know a lot of kids in my school (which as like twenty black people in this years graduating class by the way, ha) see black people and--to prove how not racist they are--treat these people like the effing kings of the world. This is also racist, I think. Feel free to correct me--

But, readers, please keep in mind; just because I'm not racist doesn't mean I have to join every minority-friendly challenge that comes my way. I read books featuring characters of all races, but I'm not going to join a challenge to prove it. I read books about gay and lesbian folk, but I'm not gonna go around waving a rainbow flag. Why? Maybe its cause of the ridiculously Right Wing town I live in and how all kids were raised to keep all private matters to themselves (sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing), or maybe because it drives me crazy when people get up in arms about any tiny infraction made against people of a certain race (not even just African Americans...I mean the overwhelming number of activists and political groups that range from 9/11 American Madness to Former Convict Suffering Support...seriously, its irritating). The thing is...I don't care about race or orientation. African Americans, women, all these people that suffered over the years--and they have suffered--now have all these rights...our president is black for Gods sake! With the exception of gays, there really is no legal discrimination anymore, and just because there are still assholes scattered around the country doesn't mean we're reverting back to slavery. It just means...well, people are assholes. Not like its a secret.

So, that's why I'm not racist. I don't care about race or the like in my books. All I care about is story and, if its a good one, I'll like it. Race may influence other readers, but not me. So I'm not going to go out purposly looking for books featuring minorities. Plus, I just really hate challenges in general. They make me feel like a failure.

In case there's anyone out there who still thinks I'm a white little bitch or something, please do leave a comment a let me know why (though it'd be great if everyone was civil about it!)

Thanks for listening, can't wait to hear what you think.


robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) said...

I feel the same way, Dannie. If a book interests me, I'm going to read it. It doesn't matter if the book is about POC or LGBT. If they are, great. But, also like you said, if someone is bashing you for not being in everybody's face about the things you believe in, that's probably racist too. I've never gotten a spam comment, never gotten any hate mail, and it makes me really sad to know that you do.

I blog because I want to spread love for the books I read, and to connect with people because of our love of books. To know that there is still all the nastiness of high school in the blogosphere as well makes me feel slightly hesitant to continue.

Thanks for posting this, Dannie.
And to whoever sent you that e-mail, karma is coming their way.

Jenny said...

Oh wow. I never would have thought that about you, first of all. But to question why you wouldn't join those challenges?? I have joined some challenges but not those but I don't think I need a good reason not to. I'm just not interested in "challenging" myself to specifically read more books about poc or the lgbt community. Doesn't mean I'm hating on books about those topics because that's not it either. I never in a million years would have thought to judge someone for not joining those specific challenges.

La Coccinelle said...

I don't really think it's fair to pick on you just because you didn't join certain challenges (or any challenges at all, for that matter). Not everybody has the time to do challenges... and even if they do, they can't join all of them.

As readers, we have the right to read (or not read) whatever we like. It's not for someone else to decide that you're a racist or a homophobe just because you didn't join a POC or LGBT challenge. How do they know you're not reading individual books that fall into those categories? And even if you're not... what's it to them?

Dannie said...

Please no hate for the the commentor! I could totally see where she was coming from, and she was actually pretty cordial considering the subject she was dealing with. Thanks for all the support though :)

Rozurashii said...

I was linked here by a friend and as someone who considers racism and discrimination to still be a very serious issue in the US, I thought I would recommend some reading to you so that when you talk about race, you don't hit all the bingo spaces (a race bingo card, in case you have never come them) in one go. While I agree that you are probably NOT a racist, I also see that you are inadvertently displaying racist behavior. PLEASE NOTE THE DIFFERENCE because I don't want to be derailed by anyone who is overly reactionary to the word "racist". In my experience, most discussions of racism have that issue.

First of all, take time to acquaint yourself with your own privilege and what that means. Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is probably the best essay to address the issue of privilege in regards to race. This essay can be very uncomfortable, especially if you have never tried to examine this topic before.

Next, I think you should have a look at the colorblind argument in your post, which if you're unfamiliar with the term refers to the part where you said "I don't care about race [...] in my books. All I care about is story." The idea that the race of a character is irrelevant to the quality of a work is true, but that it is irrelevant at all IS NOT. Racism is alive and well, even with our Black president. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has a great essay about colorblindness that talks about language people use in these instances.

Lastly, I want to reiterate that I think any racist behavior you're displaying is unintentional and a part of the insidious nature of our post-civil rights racism. There are a ton of discussions of this nature in the blogging community, and if you're actually interested in engaging about this issue, I would be happy to direct you to other sources.

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

While I didn't join in on the POC of LGBT challenges, it's not because I don't believe in reading those books. As a matter of fact, I'm endeavoring to put more diversity into what I read--it's just, like you, I fail at reading challenges since I always forget to do them. Lol.

But I will have to politely disagree with "African Americans, women, all these people that suffered over the years--and they have suffered--now have all these rights."

Because I don't think the problems with sexism or racism are resolved at all.

But I definitely don't think you're racist or a b*tch.


Dannie said...

Rozurashii--thanks for all the links and being polite about your disagreement. I do realize that as a post-civil war white girl living in the whitest town in America I may be a little ignorant to these issues, but that doens't mean I don't know that racism is still alive a well (this applies to you too, choco). If that's part of the story, and there are great characters, I'll read it. And yeah, I've rarely encountered racism in my town, and none of it against any white people. None of this is to sound racist or say discrimination is dead or novels about these problems don't matter. All I'm saying is that race doesn't matter to me as a reader and even if there are a plethura of reasons for this, it is just an individual viewpoint and nothing in what I wrote applies to anyone but me. But, seriously, thanks so much for the info and taking the time to give your two cents. It's very much appreciated!

Alexia561 said...

Sorry that you had to be put under this particular spotlight.

I can't understand why anyone would accuse you of being a racist because you didn't join a particular challenge. What if someone doesn't join a historical fiction challenge? Or a paranormal challenge? Or a romance challenge? Lighten up people!

I'm not really a visual person, so a fictional character is more personality than looks for me. Unless it is the main focus of the story, race, creed, or sexual orientation doesn't really matter to me.

I'm sorry if I offend anyone, but I get so tired of everyone being so easily offended and politically correct that if you don't jump on their band wagon, then you're the enemy.

alana said...

I am pretty surprised anyone would think you’re racist just because you didn’t take part in a reading challenge.

That being said, I do think your comments are indicative of your privilege (and there is nothing wrong with that in and of itself since we all have privilege in certain ways). Racism is much more complicated then just treating someone different because of their skin color and I got to echo Rozurashii’s comments on this one. I may have read your post wrong though since it seems like you are talking about books as well as society (particularly by mentioning the president), but then your comment seems to be referring to only books in particular. If I did then my bad, but your post definitely reads that way to me. I’m not trying to be snarky (cause I think you rock) but the fact you’re white is what gives you option of caring about race or not. It’s also disingenuous to say that there is no legal discrimination anymore while also ignoring the vast amount of privilege being white and male affords a person. Does this make you racist or mean you have to read books that focus on racism? Of course not.

Donna said...

Oh dear god, political correctness hurts my brain. It really does. So do people victimizing themselves for whatever reason (be it color, sexual orientation, reproductive organs, hair color, whatever). It's gotten to a level of ridiculous that one can't help but laugh at.

If people would stop putting emphasis on every little word or phrase they find even nominally offensive, we wouldn't be in the shit storm we're currently in. Call me a dago, guinea, WOP and I'll just look at you and go, "Okay . . ." My people were also treated as inhuman animals in this country but we're not really hanging onto that grudge. We just have to deal with the likes of Jersey Shore (and let's face it, fellow guidos, truth hurts). The Sicilians and Italians were also enslaved by the French about 600 years ago. We got over it.

The fact of the matter is there isn't a race or type of human being on this planet that hasn't been persecuted at some point in history. Every culture has their crosses to bear but it doesn't help anyone any when people keep nailing themselves to it. Fight for your rights, sure, but let's get some perspective on the situation, shall we?

I'm sick and tired of having this sort of guilt thrust upon me simply because my skin's pale. Nevermind no one on either side of my family even set foot in this country prior to 1902. Nevermind they were olive stompers over in Italy before that. I'm guilty by association simply because I'm Casper's albino cousin. Isn't that the same kind of ignorance and bigotry we're accused of having?

Donna said...

Dammit, I forgot to say the point I initially set out to say.

The bottom line is, only people can continue to give words the power that they have, both for the good and the bad. If we stop giving negative and hate-filled words the power and emotion they incite, they'll cease to mean anything and effectively become harmless, meaningless nothings. But a fire can only continue to rage if it has fuel. Keep fueling it and it's not going to stop. But deprive it of oxygen, stomp it out and there'll be nothing but ashes left.

This is something we were taught in grade school. Bullies feed on reaction. You don't react, you ignore, and eventually it goes away. If people were to stop freaking out every time the n-bomb is dropped or some radio DJ mentions the nappy head of a female basketball player, they would cease to contain the power that people keep putting into them. They're only so immensely powerful because people let them be. Stop letting them. Let the fire go out.

Dannie said...

Sing it, sister.

ParaJunkee said...

Amen sister.

I think the best thing for any minority is to be treated the same. If you are mean to everyone...well there ya go. LOL. I'm very much in agreement with a lot of your statements, we really need to take away the power, instead of repressing peoples behavior or the WORDS.

If people are SCARED to say certain things to minorities, in fear of being labeled a racist how is that right? PC stuff just drives me crazy.

Simon said...

*sniff* I'm so proud...

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