Why I Plan to Do Diverse December Too

I’ve already committed to reducing the number of books on my Netgalley shelves in December. I’ve been monstrously greedy throughout the year and now need to be munching on my existing goodies.

However, Naomi Frisby makes a lot of sense when she talks about her reasons for the Diverse December initiative, as does Dan. So I will do my best to participate in this initiative as well, since unconscious bias is always with us, no matter how ‘liberal’ and ‘socially aware’ we like to think we are.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very international environment. Although the overseas English school I attended as a child included more than your fair share of children from privileged (moneyed, diplomatic, well-educated) backgrounds, at least it contained all colours and religions as well. So I’ve never been able to resort to glib generalisations about people based on their skin tone, nationality or ethnic group. And yet…

I too did the Harvard University’s Implicit Association test for skin colour and found that I had a slight preference for lighter skin tones. But I need look no further than among my group of friends to know that, although they are a cosmopolitan crowd, not that many of them are non-white.

Virtual bookshelves from trademarksandbrandsonline.com
Virtual bookshelves from trademarksandbrandsonline.com

So let me search among my Netgalley shelves and see what BAME writers I can find there. A bit shameful, really. Of the 45 books currently on my shelf, only 5 fit the criteria.

  1. The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee – a Korean growing up in Hong Kong
  2. The Dictator’s Last Night by Yasmina Khadra – Algerian writer working largely in France
  3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – Japanese-Hawaiian in US
  4. The Killing Lessons by Saul Black – pseudonym of Glen Duncan, Anglo-Indian writer growing up in Bolton – the only non-white child at his school.
  5. The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura – OK, I’m clutching at straws here, as this is a Japanese author living and writing in Japan, so never part of an oppressed minority.

If I were to include ‘other white’ immigrants (a category in which I always have to put myself at the census), I could also read:

  1. Expulsion and Other Stories by Marina Sonkina – Russian living in Canada
  2. Forty One by Lesia Daria – of Ukrainian origin (? – not entirely sure)

Not a great proportion, but it’s a start for this month… And I may sneak in some other reads from beyond those virtual shelves!