I watched this video from a booktuber, discussing her experience as a black booktuber and systemic racism that has occurred in not only in the booktube world but as well in the publishing industry as a whole. She has made a lot of strong points and passionate remarks. However, I have noticed that while authors and other social media readers reflect the lack of diversity in the publishing diversity (which there is), they are not highlighting an issue that is also equally important:
Reading and books are not fully encouraged in diverse and minority communities.
We question the diversity in the publishing and other book-related industries, however, what are we doing as the minority community to promote literacy within our communities? Are we hosting panels reflecting the different positions that are and can be held in this industry by minorities or are we waiting for others to do it for us? Then I realized that we must do more. This is more than just promoting diversity in the book world. This is about promoting reading in diverse communities.
Books and reading are frowned upon and something of little interest since it does not bring a big profit. Instead of waiting around for the big names to reflect that, it is time that we take hold of the reins. Highlight individuals of colour who are working in these industries and show them to the younger generation so they can discover more about it. If we want to change the reading culture, it needs to start within. It needs to start at home. That means encouraging reading in all aspects (all genres, all races) and not continuously look at it as a frivolous activity that will come to nothing.
As a black librarian, I continuously see children and teens that minority communities are lacking the encouragement to read, in which the literacy levels continue to decrease. Reading is not seen as a favourable activity and receives very little support at home. Reading is still seen as a luxury, only for the select few. That stigma has to be removed from our communities, that way we could help this industry change and evolve.
We are busy looking at problems elsewhere, instead of looking at the problems within our communities. We can’t expect change on the outside when we don’t change on the inside.