for jen jen

On Allyship and Problematic Books

This whole entire issue, the issue of problematic books boils down to one thing: respect of others. Being respectful of others is not a debate.

Jen has been a massive help to the bookish community. She has generously shared her time and energy with us, helping us be better allies. This includes gentle call outs on problematic books.

Nowhere in any of her posts on here or on her blog has Jen ever said that we can’t enjoy problematic books. She’s even admitted that she’s read and loved some problematic books. We all have a problematic fave or two-that doesn’t make us bad people. BUT we must stop and think. Posting pictures of the book is free promotion for that book. It tells publishers it’s ok to continue publishing problematic and harmful books. It gives our followers the idea that it is a safe book to read.

It’s your blog, but you still owe it to your followers and the people you stand with to acknowledge the issues with those books. 

Too many people don’t tag their book photos or add a comment on how the book is problematic. If you can’t do that, it’s better to not post the picture at all. If you can commit to that, if you really can do that, then do it! It helps. But it’s not as powerful of a message to the publishers. It also sends a mixed message. Do you support the book or don’t you? 

We are not being forced to do this. If doing any of this makes you uncomfortable, that’s on you.

When I first told Jen that I loved Nevernight she said“Yikes! That book is incredibly racist, here’s a link about it.”

That’s
a call out. I didn’t feel bad when I read her comment. I didn’t feel attacked, because I wasn’t. Nowhere did she say that I was a bad person or needed to stop enjoying the book. She simply asked me to investigate.

That is the difference between a call out and bullying/harassment.

After investigating I don’t promote the book. I took down my 4.5 star review on my blog and Goodreads because I personally did not feel comfortable supporting such a racist and problematic book that has hurt real people. That’s what problematic books do. I no longer recommend it to others. But no one forced me to do that.

If we truly want this book community to be a community we must stand up for each other, speak out against problematic books and let each other know which books are harmful. Communities look out for each other, and this is the best way to do it.  

Jen puts a lot of thought and time and effort into her posts. I like to think of them as guidebooks, a good starting place. We all have a lot to learn about ally-ship and as we become more aware of things, we must adapt and continue supporting each other by listening and respecting one another.

Because ultimately? There’s nothing debatable about treating others with respect and kindness. 

You either do or you don’t.

Realistically I don’t even think some of y'all are ignorant in the sense that you’re not seeing the problem with certain books I just think you generally don’t care… you’re so devoid of basic human decency that because an issue doesn’t effect you you don’t want it to be spoken about and aren’t willing to point it out to your followers