Compiling a list of writers of color!

Wiener dog camouflage. There are 2 wiener dogs here.

Where do we find writers of color? That’s a question Roxane Gay is answering for the writing and publishing community-at-large.

I didn't realize we writers of color were hiding. Maybe we are camouflaged by the color of our skin. But we are here. We are not invisible. I can't even begin to tell you how many of us are HERE and writing. We are writing hard, hoping to be read and to be heard.

Learning that we are hard to find and that we are in fact, invisible to many, makes me wince. But we have an opportunity in Roxane’s project to send our lists of writers of color.

I submitted my list of writers of color today in the comments (and you might be on that list). Did you? Why not?

And because I’m a bossy oldest sister, I’m going to tell you, “Go submit your list now.” You’re making the world better and smaller and enlightened by doing so.

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9 Comments

Filed under Publishing, Writing

9 responses to “Compiling a list of writers of color!

  1. tangential (maybe not) question: do you think some editors/readers assume a person is white and/or male simply based on the writer’s name? say, if it doesn’t “sound ethnic” or gendered somehow–what the reader might perceive as non-white or female–does the reader assume the person is a white male?

    i have heard stories about how some female writers supposedly used their initials (e.g., A.M. Holmes) instead of their full names in order to hide their gender when they first began getting published; the implication was that by doing so, their work would not be preemptively dismissed or boxed into the “women’s lit” label. (it blows my mind that “writers, women” is an LOC classification, even though “writers, men” is not.)

    • HI Heather–this is kind of kind of related and unrelated. It’s natural when people bring up race, to try to bring the conversation closer to themselves, and for many folks who are not of color but want to empathize, that means to bring up gender lines. (And vice versa: I think I did this myself when I did a post on the VIDA count last year and addressed the gender disparity and then asked what racial disparities might be).

      So yes, there is gender disparity–and that topic is being actively discussed out there, with much gratitude to VIDA.

      But to answer your question–and I’m not even an authority on this, historically yes. e.g., George Eliot, who wrote The Mill on the Floss. I too even thought about using my first two initials in the past so that my gender wouldn’t be obvious as a writer. And yes, there is huge gender disparity in publishing–but that’s another topic.

      • I didn’t intend to shift the convo to gender disparity, but rather question what readers assume. I’m wondering how often a less-than-informed reader or editor could be saying “I don’t know where writers of color are!” and in fact be reading and publishing some–but automatically assume that the writer is a white dude because the editor/reader is a white dude. That’s not a defense; I think it may speak to what Nate said below about editors being willfully ignorant–not taking the time to look up the writers or actively search for a variety of writers.

        Does that make sense? My curiosity is based in conversations from my classroom. Students of varied backgrounds, gender, ethnicity, etc., often make the writers-are-white-guys (living or dead) assumption all the time–as in, “I don’t understand how this guy could write this when he’s white” until you show them a photo of, say, the black woman who wrote the essay–no matter what the material is about. It boils down to that the writer did not announce, in all-caps, “I AM A BLACK WOMAN” in a given text. It is, at the very minimum, disturbing that editors might be doing the same thing. That’s being generous–it blows my effing mind that people aren’t paying attention, and why I love the idea itself. You can’t ignore that long list, or even your own ignorance if you’re looking at the list.

        • I dunno. I am not convinced that Editors are publishing writers of color by mistake, and if so they are not doing so in very great numbers, because the statistics reveal that writers of color have very low publishing numbers. In fact, Roxane Gay did a survey of the NY Times Book Review that supports that very fact:
          http://therumpus.net/2012/06/where-things-stand/

          Maybe as writers of color diversify the topics they write about (there is a huge pressure for us within our community and outside of our community to represent, and limit our topics to “people of color topics”) that might be more the case. And certainly, there are writers whose names are misleading (like mine). But…I don’t think writers of color are very visible, whether because they are overlooked, or maybe because we are largely still ghettoized..or because we are strangely invisible (this is so odd to me, but I guess we are invisible).

  2. Meghan Ward

    Wow! Your list is extremely comprehensive! What a great resource. I was just saying to my book club last night, “Okay, we can read A Sense of an Ending” and then “The Art of Fielding,” but then we need to take a break from white male authors! We plan to read Shanthi Sekaran’s Prayer Room after those. And hey – that’s someone to add to your list!

  3. Nate

    Any editor who claims to be having problems finding writers of color is being completely disingenous. It’s not hard at all. A quick scan of the new fiction shelf at the library or dive into the slushpile will turn up WOC. I know that because I look, not just sometimes, but everytime. The answer to their “question” (tired excuse) is “Read, dumbass.”

    • I’m not sure how it is we writers of color are “hard to find,” but I definitely don’t want to allow that excuse go forward. Which is why I am loving Roxane’s project at The Rumpus.

      • Nate

        This particular brand of willful ignorance may require one to stuff the list somewhere pretty painful before any of those nimrods will take notice of it!

        Okay, okay, I’ll go see if I have anyone else to add…

        (And for what it’s worth, on behalf of the pale, penised community I apologize that this is even necessary.)

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