- If you’re a straight cisgender woman writing m/m romance, sorry, you are not striking a blow for equality – This post by Sunny Moraine showed up on our dash as a trackback and I had to share it. It’s excellent advice.
Here’s something you have to do if you’re in a position of privilege and you’re writing about people who aren’t: ask yourself if it’s your story to tell. Ask yourself every single time. You may not arrive at an easy answer. You may not arrive at an answer at all. But storytelling is very fucking political, and you owe it to you, your story, your characters, and everyone who might ever read it to ask the question.
You may want to tell the story. No one can stop you from telling the story. But at least be honest with yourself about what you’re doing and why. And I cannot escape the feeling – not least while so many publishers of “LGBT” romance almost entirely ignore the L, the T, and frequently shove the B into the whole “menage” category – that the reasons why a lot of m/m romance exists are not tasteful.
- Girls Ruin Everything: Stephenie Meyer, Lois Duncan, and Childhood Nostalgia – I’ll admit that this totally changed by view of Meyer. We do talk about her a lot less respectfully than we do of male authors of pulpy books wildly popular with young men, and that’s something to think about.
Meyer wrote a young adult series that sold over 120 million copies in print worldwide and stayed on a variety of bestseller lists for hundreds of weeks. When it hit theaters, the series grossed more than $3.3 billion worldwide, and New Moon set the record for the biggest midnight release and opening day ever. Eclipse, New Moon, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, Breaking Dawn: Part 1, and Twilight hold the respective box office earning positions for young adult book adaptations at 6, 7, 9, 12, and 15, respectively. It turned the leads – Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner – into stars.
There’s no denying the power these books had in changing the entire landscape of YA nor the landscape of YA books appearing on the big screen.
But does she get credit for doing that? Does she earn accolades? Has she been respected for her massive contributions to YA? Not even close. Meyer gets ridiculed, mocked, and denigrated. She’s a laughing stock to many in the book world, especially for those who don’t understand young adult fiction. The idea of her expanding her career after the Twilight series is dismissed.
- Diversity Programming at Book Events and Conferences – Malinda Lo has excellent advice for anyone looking to diversify the programming on offer at their event.
Since my first young adult novel, Ash, was published in 2009, I’ve been asked to speak about diversity many times. This is due to my work with Diversity in YA, but also because my books have been about queer3 girls and/or girls of color. Over the past year, the discourse on diversity in YA and children’s literature has grown significantly, which means I’ve received even more invitations to speak on diversity than in the past.
There are many ways to incorporate diversity in your programming, whether it’s at a library or a convention or a book festival. Some ways are better than others, and I’ve seen many approaches. The following are my thoughts on how to incorporate diversity in your conference/event/festival programming.
- A Review Of Like No Other by Una LaMarche – The Toast reviewed a YA romance with a Hasidic heroine and a black hero that I thought some of you might find interesting.
I don’t usually write book reviews, but Una LaMarche’s Like No Other was such a fun read that I was happy to examine it more closely. Like No Other is a great YA contemporary romance. Devorah and Jaxon meet when they get stuck in a hospital elevator together. As they start talking, they discover that they not only share interests but also live on the same street in Brooklyn. But – oh no! – Devorah is a Hasidic Jew and her strict upbringing means she shouldn’t even be talking to boys alone, much less dating the cute Black one from the elevator. So, naturally, drama ensues.
The story is well-paced and Devorah and Jaxon’s relationship has all the fuzzy emotions of first love. Even though Devorah’s religion makes their dates and meetings forbidden, the tone of the romance is sweet and fun, rather than edgy or scandalous.
- Women in sports television should not be a marketing gimmick – I share this author’s lack of enthusiasm for this show. What do you want to bet all the women are straight, white, blonde and femme as well?
“CBS would not reveal the show’s format, but sources say it will be something akin to The View meets Pardon the Interruption.”
According to CBS Sports, the CBS Sports Network produces more than 2,200 hours of original programming a year. The network could have chosen to add more women to its existing programming, including them in the conversation and sitting them alongside their male colleagues. Instead, the network is creating its own little corner for the women to play in and calling it groundbreaking.
None of this is to say that I’m not totally supportive of increased roles for women in sports. But forgive me for not being thrilled to see a network using women as gimmicks in a transparent marketing ploy.
- Things To Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered By Police – There have been so many powerful and important pieces written about Mike Brown and Ferguson that it was hard to choose which I wanted to link to here. This one from Black Girl Dangerous needed to be shared.
A Black person is murdered by cops, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes every 28 hours in the U.S. The killing of an unarmed Black teenager named Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, which has resulted in protests in that town and harsh police push-back and brutality against even more of its citizens, and which, via social media, has gotten the attention of people around the world, probably isn’t even the latest occurrence, at just three days old.
Talking to people on Twitter about Mike Brown and what’s happening in Ferguson right now, I’ve noticed (again) how easily folks get distracted when Black people are murdered by the police. It seems as though every detail is more interesting, more important, more significant—including looting of a Walmart in Ferguson, which a local Fox news station focused its entire coverage on—than the actual life that was taken by police.
So, to get folks back on track to focus on what matters most here—the killing of yet another unarmed Black teenager—I’ve compiled this list of 6 Things To Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered By the Police.
- #IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenges the media and how it portrays people of color – This post from Poynter acknowledging the criticism of photojournalism in the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown should make newsroom editors think real hard about why they choose the photos they do and how that choice affects public perceptions.
The inclination of news organizations to use photos to illustrate stories, instead of to tell stories, is catching up with them. Telling the story of a young man’s life in a single photograph is unfortunately common; the same organizations would be far less likely to publish a story with such one-dimensional reporting.
#IfTheyGunnedMeDown asks the logical question of media that oversimplifies, even issues of life and death. As long as photos and other visuals are viewed as decorations instead of important — and often more powerful — means of storytelling, newsrooms will fail to ask rigorous questions of them, like:
- Having seen this photo, what do we know and what do we realize we don’t know?
- Does this photo, standing alone, tell a true story of this person’s life?
- What further (visual) reporting needs to be done before we can publish this photograph?
- Are we capable of putting this photo in the proper context, either with a caption, or additional photographs?