Hello there allies, archenemies, and everyone in between! This post has been a long time coming and I really was just delaying it out of fear. I hope you all won’t shame me for this but I’m also well aware that my experience is valid. This isn’t like my usual discussions where I drop a condensed list of my thoughts.
This is more of a confession and I do hope that you would all hear me out.
I started this blog mainly because of the influence of my fellow Filipino book bloggers that championed diversity. And yes, of course, it’s Shealea @ShutUpShealea and Kate @YourTitaKate. It’s thanks to them that I became more involved with the community and I gained access to books through their blog tours!
It was an exhilarating journey because I met more bloggers that also have the same advocacy. Not only am I reading more, but I also get to promote local books! The book community became a safe space for me where like-minded people are gushing over with my passion as opposed to my usual circle in real life.
Having that power to be actively promoting books as dare I say, an “influencer” was empowering but also intoxicating.
Being labeled as a POC blogger (or is it blogger of color?) magnified my voice and I enjoyed wielding it but, there are always obvious limitations.
I fell into the trap of thinking more about the label of being an advocate and how it made me entitled with policing other people’s lack of diversity in their reading.
There was a time when I judged people for their problematic favorites and have this urgency to berate them, to correct them, and to impose what I deem was right. I felt so entitled and also conflicted. The fight for diversity in literature and other forms of media won’t cease until there will be apt representation for everyone.
Inclusivity is the real deal, and while I still do support this, I was beginning to realize that my thinking process in promoting diverse books is flawed and hinged on both external and internal pressures.
I realized that I cared more about how this advocacy represented my identity than its initial purpose.
You see, there were a lot of us doing the same thing about diversity, and sometimes I felt like one blogger is trying to magnify their voice while another one tries, even more, to dampen it and magnify their own.
It became some sort of shouting competition when viewed from a different angle.
I don’t really think that the whole blogging community of POCs is like that but I do know that there are people like these who exist. Alongside this, what made matters worse for me was because I felt pressured to read and promote every other diverse book even if I don’t hold any initial interest in it and have difficulty in accessing them. I know, these are all in my head but it didn’t make me feel any better anyway.
At times the act of promoting feels performative and I just want to receive the validation from others that I am actually doing the work as a POC blogger. Yeah, pretty flawed right?
Then last year I started reading out of my comfort zone and found that I actually enjoy reading epic fantasy from white male authors. I genuinely love them but there was this nagging voice in the corner of my head that said how shameful it was for me to enjoy them.
Book twitter drama is ceaseless and while I partake in some tea-sipping along the way, I was fearful sometimes that other POC bloggers will judge my reading preferences sooner or later.
It’s like I’m just waiting for the roulette to stop on me and then I’ll get canceled indefinitely. Yeah, it’s kind of a stretch LOL but it never really left my mind. I aspire to be a well-rounded reader and I don’t want to just focus in my comfort zone all the time.
The obligation of a POC blogger and the even more demanding expectations from other non-POC bloggers (is this even a word? LOL) was finally suffocating me and I hated it.
I had a mini hiatus when I was doing my thesis work and when I came back I saw how my stats plummeted. It was then that I realized how I was hyper fixated on being a blogger with more influence rather than just enjoying the process it gave me in the first few months.
I started reading again and wanted to redeem myself by genuinely reading only the diverse books that I’m interested in. It was freeing and it was also the easiest transition that I even didn’t think was possible.
After all these realizations I resolved to not capitalize on the advocacy of promoting diverse books anymore in an offhand and general way. If I’m going to promote books by AOC I’m going to do it my way.
When I let go of the pressures I permitted myself to succumb to I began to really enjoy the process.
While there are more people raving for Young Adult, Fantasy, and Contemporary books, I wanted to promote other rosters from AOC that I have a genuine interest in. Nobody can fault me for my process because it didn’t feel like a competition anymore with other bloggers but a competition with my former self. I fell in love with blogging again and it’s the first time that I don’t actively look at my stats! Yeah, it’s a miracle and I felt like I’ve transcended HAHAHAH.
I would like to clarify that while I’ve shared some of my apprehension towards the POC blogging community, I am in no way villainizing them.
To do so, will just topple all the hard work they did and invalidate all their, take note, unpaid efforts in trying to fight the systemic oppression predominant in literature consumption. Not all POC bloggers are perfect but they all have the right intention in their hearts. I know I still have a lot to learn but I hope that in due time I could better myself as a POC blogger.
Thank you for reading this “confession” of mine and I hope you get to ponder on what I revealed here if some of them resonated with you.
- What are your struggles in promoting diverse books?
- What are the ways that you adopted that made you a more effective advocate?