Hello, lovely readers.
It’s July, and as most of you know we usually host a July #24in48. You may have noticed we haven’t announced a July 2020 event yet; that’s not an accident or oversight. This iteration of the ‘thon won’t be happening, and we hope you’ll read through to the end to understand why.
2020 has been unlike any year in recent memory (to put it mildly). A global pandemic has killed over 500,000 people worldwide (a number that will be out of date as soon as we publish this post); in the United States, as in many other countries, a disproportionate number of those deaths are Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color (BIPOC). A centuries-old and yet still unaddressed public health crisis is facing the United States—and, in different ways and to varying degrees, many other countries across the globe—in the form of institutional and systemic racism, showing up in the murders of Black people at the hands of police, the unsolved murders of Black trans women, disproportionately high rates of incarceration for BIPOC, high maternal death rates for Black women and other mothers of color… and the list goes on and on.
We hope that as co-hosts, we have made it clear over the years that we are dedicated to dismantling these systems as best we can in our own small ways. In the #24in48 community, that has looked like only highlighting prize titles by diverse writers; highlighting women and people of color in requests to publishers for prizes; intentionally reading diversely in our own #24in48 (and all personal) reading plans; and encouraging participants to consider the diversity of their own #24in48 reading stacks.
We started asking you all to log what books you read for #24in48 weekends in July 2018. Since then, we’ve received 7,967 entries for a total of 7,242 unique titles. Of those, 1,372 were tagged as written by an author of color; 3,664 were tagged as “I don’t know” for author race.
Overall, the publishing industry is 76% white. At the executive level? 78% white. At the editorial level? 85% white. Literary agents? 80% white. Things get even worse, and more shameful, when you look at gender breakdowns, sexual orientation, and disability representation/employment.
The majority of books that do get through the publishing process are written by white authors: In 2018, more children’s books featuring an animal character were published than children’s books featuring a Black, Latinx, Indigenous or Asian child. For every 100 romance books published by leading romance publishers in 2018, roughly 7% of them were written by BIPOC authors. And for BIPOC authors who are published, they’re often paid far less, and receive less support in terms of marketing and sales.
If you remain committed to “just reading good books,” “not paying attention to author race,” or any other version of colorblind reading, you will read white books, by white authors, published by white editors and white agents and promoted by white marketing teams.
It is on us, as readers, to show the publishing industry that there is demand for stories by and about BIPOC. It is on us, as readers, to do so by being intentional about the books we choose to read, the books we choose to review and highlight on our social media profiles, the books we choose to share with our circles, and the people we follow in turn.
The internet does not need another event hosted by an all-white team, which is what we are: three white women who love books and desperately believe that the world needs to do better, be better, and put meaningful actions behind the words Black Lives Matter. Rather than hosting a July #24in48, we’re encouraging you all to participate in events hosted by BIPOC Bookstagrammers, BookTubers, and reviewers instead. Seek out books by BIPOC. Read them, love them, share them.
We’ve linked below to a few readathons and readalongs we’re participating in ourselves, and encourage you to check them out. (If you know of others, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add to this list!) This is by no means exhaustive (or even sufficiently representative of the online events, reviewers, book clubs, and resources on the web that await you); it’s a starting point to show how much is out there for you to discover, participate in, and enjoy that isn’t helmed by white women.
Book Clubs & Monthly Subscription Boxes:
- Read a Book! with Kara: A monthly book club with a book announced at the top of each month, with a livestream at the end of each month to discuss. The July book is Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the first livestream is scheduled for August 1st, time TBD.
- Call Number Box: A long-time donor to 24in48, this subscription box offers a monthly book by a diverse author along with other goodies.
- BlackLIT Box: A monthly subscription box featuring diverse titles with fiction, nonfiction, or children’s options.
- Now in Books: Featuring diverse YA titles, this Black-owned subscription box ships to US and Canada readers.
Reading Events & Readalongs:
- The Kintu Summer Readalong, hosted by Brown Girl Reading
- Octavia Butler Slow Read-a-long, hosted by Njeri (@onyxpages), Isis (@sistahscifi) & Tatiana (@musical_tati)
- Stamped from the Beginning Read Along, hosted by @melanatedreader
- July Fuckathon, hosted by Booktuber @Noria Reads (added to the list from an Instagram commenter)
Black Readers & Reviewers on Social Media/YouTube:
- 5 Black Women on #BookTube, by The Sistah Girls
- Black Booktubers and Bookstagrammers You Should be Following, from Riveted Lit
- 24 Black Bookstagrammers Who Should Be On Your Radar
We believe that reading, both as an escape and as a way of better knowing and understanding our world, is more important now than ever before, and we implore you to be intentional about what that reading looks like for you. This applies not only to the books you consume and champion, but how you source those books. Whether that’s supporting Black-owned independent bookstores, delving into the thousands of Black authors with work exclusively available digitally on your Kindle, or submitting title acquisition requests to your library: you have a voice, and power to act. Do so.
Until the next ‘thon, whenever that may be,
Rachel, Kristen, and Kerry