Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Confessions of a Formerly Color Blind Reader

First, read this post by David Anthony Durham about the oft used argument of being a ‘color blind’ reader.

I’m a pretty standard example of an American upper-middle class upbringing and could serve as a great example of the term W.A.S.P. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). As such, I’m almost certain that I’ve at some point claimed to be ‘color blind’ regarding reading and some issue or another – and when I made the claims I considered this to be a positive example of a lack of racism.

Over the last several years I’ve noticed that I can’t really make that argument anymore. I actively seek out diversity of one kind or another in my reading. I want to read a book from a different perspective. I bought ___ because the author is from Columbia, and ___ because it’s originally a Russian work, and ____ because it’s from Japan, and ___ because her perspective sounds intriguing, and ____ because he’s African, and ____ because he’s homosexual, etc. Were these the only reasons – maybe? I don’t know, but they were reasons. And I certainly don’t do this for every book I get – I get a lot of books because they sound good (and I may not know anything about that author), and I of course get books specifically because I know of the author even if I don’t know of that particular book. But, I can say that I know longer buy books blindly, and my reading experience has been greatly enhanced as a result.

And in spite of the entire previous paragraph, a study of my bookshelf would reveal that a large majority of the books were written by white males. It sure makes me think.

7 comments:

David Anthony Durham said...

Awesome, Neth. Thinking is exactly what we should be doing. Thing about thinking, though, is that if you do it enough you often find your original assumptions/positions may not be as strong as you'd like to believe. That seems to scare people away from thinking.

Anyway, I think the way you're approaching reading and looking toward the future is great. We need more like you!

Oh, and thanks for the the link.

Tia Nevitt said...

I think a lot of us will be blogging about David's post in the next few days. I'm formulating a post, myself.

Mister Troll said...

Agreed - a thoughtful post! I will try to post about this in a few days as well.

Neth said...

Thanks David - it was a great post and it's getting an appropriate amount of attention around the web it seems. Lots of people talking about which is good.

Myth said...

Hmm, this is the third post I have seen on this topic. Conindicence, likely. I must say I don't pay any attention to the author of a random book I pick up, unless I really try to remember the name so I can pick up something else by them. Often I tend to have problems remembering the names anyway and have to search out the series again. I am sure my gender, culture, race and such influence my writing a great deal and in ways I am certainly unaware of (and some I am aware of), but as a reader gender and race don't even occur to me... it is the title, blurb and cover art that either sell me or not on a book.

Larry said...

After the article was posted, I did a search through my books (all 1100+ of them). Throwing out the roughly 200 that were holdovers from my academic days, I noticed the following:

About 120 out of 900 or so were by women. About 30 were in English/translation by PoC. Another 150 or so were in Spanish by Latinos of various stripes. And the disparities were worst for spec fic works, which at around 1/3 of my total fiction has skewed the results a lot. It is interesting to see/note this, as it gives me more to consider for later, which is a good first step on that journey of a thousand miles, no? :P

Mister Troll said...

Well, I'm definitely late to this party, but I did post on this theme over at http://www.booksunderthebridge.com/ - I'd be glad to see you all stop by!

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