Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter

Honestly, I don’t want to have to tell you why diversity and inclusion matter. I wish it was something we all instinctively understood. In the book blogging space, I can see how diversity and inclusion could seem irrelevant. But it’s my firmest belief that diversity and inclusion are always relevant — as they must be. After all, if we want to achieve true equality in every area of our lives, we must talk about equality in every area of our lives.

I also recognize that “just talking about it” is not enough. As allies, we must use our privilege to act on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. It’s not my voice you should be listening to — it’s the voices of POC; the voices of trans womxn; the voices of non-binary folx — but as a white, straight-passing, cis woman, I know that I will have an easier time being heard than many of my brothers and sisters.

For these reasons, I feel a responsibility not only to speak, but to act. We cannot be passive in the pursuit of change. We must actively do what we can to support others who less privileged than ourselves. My blog provides me with a platform, and I believe in using that platform for the benefit of the movement for equality — which is why I would like to speak to you about the importance of this movement in the book blogging space.

Book blogging is racist. The publishing industry is racist. As bibliophiles, we are just as responsible for the racism in our society as anyone else. Unfortunately, many of us think we are not part of the problem, and use that as an excuse not to be part of the solution. If you don’t think the bookish community plays a part in promulgating white privilege, then think again:

  • The publishing industry is 76 percent white. (Lee & Low, 2019)
  • Black authors are given drastically smaller advances than white authors.
    • An example: Black author Jesmyn Ward, who won the National Book Award in 2011, had to fight for an advance of $100k. White male author Chip Cheek received an $800k advance for his debut novel. (PBS, 2020)
  • More than 40 percent of librarians are not aware of the term #OwnVoices. (School Library Journal, 2018)
  • 69 percent of Gen Z and millennials believe it is positive for brands to feature diverse models — yet many Black influencers are low-balled for campaigns.
    • An example: More brands are reaching out to Black influencers after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, yet continuing to offer deals as low as $1,000 for a 50-image campaign. (Vogue Business, 2020)
  • Publishers perceive that LGBTQIA material limits the potential audience of a book. As a result, many LGBTQIA authors do not receive adequate pay for their work.
    • An example: National Education Association grants are automatically turned down if writing contains explicit LGBTQIA sex. (National Writers Union, 2020)
  • After transphobic comments, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling continues to be defended by cis book bloggers and booktubers, even after the Harry Potter cast overwhelmingly rejected her views.
    • An example: Booktuber Hannah Tay’s defense of J.K. Rowling has received 23k views. (Hannah Tay, 2020)
      • I am not linking to the source video because I do not know if she benefits financially from her content and I do not want to be responsible for referring any views to her video, especially if she receives ad money for these views.

My Pledge as a Blogger

As a blogger, I have long stood by the importance of diversity and inclusion in blogging. (Read this post from my other blog, Endo Strong, for proof that I started caring long before any protests started.) But I can do better. I know I can. In fact, I know that we all can. And here’s where I’m starting — I hope it will inspire you to make changes in the way you live your own lives and the way you use your own bookish platforms for good.

Black and POC Voices

text

Personal

  • I currently donate $10 per month to The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization working to exonerate people who are wrongfully convicted of crimes using DNA evidence. 61 percent of prisoners who have been exonerated by The Innocence Project since its inception are Black.
    • As of July 2020, I do not make an income from this blog. Any money I donate comes from the income I make from my full-time job as a freelance writer. However, if the financial status of The Chic Lit Blog ever changes, I commit to being transparent about how I am using the funds to benefit Black lives.
  • I will continue to speak out social media about causes important to Black lives. However, I will not content myself with performative actions. I will also supplement awareness-raising actions with donations, shopping at Black-owned businesses, signing petitions, and, when possible, attending protests.

On the Blog

  • I commit to reading more books by Black authors. I estimate I read 25-30 books per year. Ideally, I would like for 1/3 of those books — 10 books annually — to be written by POC.
  • Most of my graphics use book covers rather than stock images of models. However, in the event I use stock images on this blog, I commit to sourcing them from inclusive sites like Unsplash and featuring Black models.
  • This blog also features stationery, and occasionally fashion. I commit to being conscious of the brands I am featuring on this blog. I will no longer shop at or feature brands like ban.do, Anthropologie, or Everlane that have been exposed for their racist work culture. If sponsorship opportunities are presented to me in the future, I will ensure there is at least one Black influencer on the campaign before accepting the role.
  • In product roundups, I will always feature at least one product sold by a Black-owned business.

LGBTQIA+ Voices

smiling woman wearing shirt standing in middle of crowd

Personal

  • I am bisexual, but rarely speak about my experiences as a bi woman. Part of this has to do with unsupportive family members (I was outed by a family member I no longer speak to), and part of it has to do with the fact that I don’t feel “bi enough” because I have only been with men. However, I feel the time has come to break my silence on this issue. I would like to be as publically involved in the LGBTQIA community as I can to inspire others and promote representation, while still maintaining healthy boundaries for my protection from said family member.
  • I will not participate in rainbow capitalism. If I purchase Pride apparel, I will consciously purchase it from LGBTQIA-owned businesses — and queer Black-owned businesses whenever possible.
  • I currently have limited funds to allocate to charity, and have prioritized donating to BLM-related causes and The Innocence Project. In the future, however, I would like to set up a monthly donation to The Trevor Project, whose primary goal is to prevent LGBTQIA suicides.
    • As I mentioned previously, I do not currently make an income from The Chic Lit Blog. I work full-time as a freelance writer. However, if anything changes, I promise to be transparent about how I am using the funds from this blog to support the LGBTQIA community.
  • Given J.K. Rowling’s transphobia, I will not buy any more officially-licensed Harry Potter merchandise or books written by Rowling, the profits of which would benefit her financially. Instead, I will continue to shop at my favorite unofficial, unlicensed boutiques, like The Common Room Co. and Seeker & Slade.

On the Blog

  • I commit to reading more books by queer authors, especially trans and non-binary authors. I like to think I have done a good job of reading and reviewing books that have LGBTQIA representation, but I know that I can still do better, especially when it comes to supporting the trans and non-binary communities. Ideally, I would like for 1/4 of the books I read annually — roughly 7 books per year — to be #OwnVoices books written by queer authors.
  • This blog, and the social media accounts associated with it, occasionally feature Harry Potter merchandise, including fashion and stationery. From now on, I will only be featuring unlicensed, unofficial HP merch that does not benefit J.K. Rowling financially in any way.