Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everything is controversial?

I read a blog tonight about the PoC challenge and I wanted to address the issues brought up. To see the post I read head on over to and read the blog. There is a lot of great information there check it out!

I think it has been mentioned here that this is a work in progress. I know it has been mentioned loads of times that we want you to suggest books, and authors, and relevant blogs for us to link to. When that happens we here always put up the links.

I wanted to celebrate and highlight PoC literature, just so that publishers would see that we are willing to read books with covers that feature people who are not Caucasian. This includes authors who are black, Asian, Native American, of any culture. This includes Caucasian authors who write their protagonists with color. This is to celebrate harmony and culture not to offend.

The word 'challenge' is used for these types of activities. No it is a not a challenge to read PoC books, but its fun to all do it together and show people that we are willing to do so. Prizes are always available during these events.

Your blog was not on the list because I didn't know it existed. Why not reach out to us here and ask to be added and provide some titles of the books you want us to read?

This is to raise awareness. Not cause more controversy. I am really sorry you feel that way but I would like to see you read more of what goes on here before posting. There are several things wrong in the post. The use of the word challenge, the prizes, no one said read brown, it's not even all about brown. It's about every culture, it is about celebration and hope that by buying these books and reading them we can glean some understanding and have the publisher glean some information.

I hope this clears up the problems you had with this blog. In the future I would love for you to come to us here with your issues and I promise we will try our best to accommodate anything. It is a work in progress and I would kindly add blogs and books and authors you suggest, I just wish you could have given us here the chance to do that to begin with.

I also cannot say I speak for the other two who are involved with this event.

Thank you,


  1. The link has been deleted.

    Great post, glad you addressed it straight on.

  2. You have to copy paste the link into your browser.

    I visited the post. I think there are better things to get pissed off about.

    First off, we are promoting PoC books, which is never a bad thing.

    Secondly, the list is still being expanded.

    Also, I don't really care to read literary criticism. My TBR has over 1500 books which I would rather get to first. Life's too short to read books I'm not interested in.

    Also, the motto is definitely not read brown.

    And challenges are quite prevalent throughout the blogosphere, there's the YA challenge, and the 2010 Debut Author Challenge, yet I hear no one complaining about how they are called a challenge.

  3. Not reading literary criticism by people who study representations of race in children's books is a mistake, April.

    We've all got blind spots and gaps and "knowledge" that we carry with us when we read children's books. All of that means that books with major problems (stereotypes and bias) get starred reviews and awards that they do not deserve.

    An excellent essay for understanding a little about your blind spots is Peggy McIntosh's WHITE PRIVILEGE: UNPACKING THE INVISIBLE KNAPSACK. A pdf of the article is here:

  4. The POC Challenge is taking off in blog land. I started reading about it on blogs I read. One of them said it was to "read brown." I apologize for saying the challenge has a motto of "Read Brown." I will change that on my post.

  5. Just to let you know the challenge's been announced on MR! Look forward to it.

    Hi, Debbie. :)

  6. Yeah I know about white privilege. I've read that article, I took a few classes in college. Hence why I'm participating in the challenge, to read and learn about the experiences of people who don't look like me. To learn about people who get denied housing because of how they look. This challenge does not have an end date, it's ongoing. To me, this is a supportive way to change my reading habits, see what others are reading, and get book suggestions. It's also a way for me to fight the powers that be with my pocketbook, as I typically pay for most of the books I read.

    As far as prizes go, I'm donating an ARC, and hopefully a few more down the line. The ARC donation is beneficial because not only do I review/read the book, but someone else gets the chance to promote the book for the author without the publisher making an ARC. Hopefully I will also donate a few finished books which directly benefit the author as they profit from the sale of the book as well as the publicity of someone reading and reviewing their book.

    If by ethnic criticism, you mean non-fiction pertaining to ethnicity, then perhaps I can swing that, but I just am a bit burned out on the academic reading for now.

  7. I have to confess, when I first heard about the PoC challenge I did consider not joining. Although I want to make a commitment to reviewing and promoting PoC books, I wondered if it made it look as though I would just be doing so for the duration of the challenge, which definitely isn't my intention. Then I thought about the GLBT challenge, which I am also signed up for this year, and the fact that I'm not approaching that one as a 'challenge' either. I want my blog to embrace diversity, and I love the idea of sharing this aim with other bloggers. I then decided the plus points of participating outweighed this concern - for all the reasons Pam has given here.

  8. I don't think any reviewer here will write a review about a POC book and just give it endless praise. we are book reviewers, we have integrity and we write honest reviews. If I don't like a book about a POC, I review it and explain why and I will not hesitate to call a book out for inaccuracy (ahem I Am Apache), sometimes I don't know that is, but I try and rectify that once I'm informed.

    You speak for me Pam!
    And go April and Lauren :)

  9. I agree with your comment about not knowing she was there, I don't know lots of blogs are there until one day I suddenly do and then I read them and my experience grows.

    What is great about blogland and where it differs from other kinds of book related lists and endeavours is that its so interactive, nothing is fixed and things can always be edited (which is different from lists in print publications and awards with judging panels). If you think something is missing you can talk to the people running the blog and they'll work on including things if they're reasonable people (which you are). Feel like she could have tried emailing you first.

    Otherwise valid suggestions and resources for your work in progress list.

  10. Blogging about the challenge again...

    Obviously, we're all pursuing the same goal, which is to increase the visibility and availability of books by and about people of color.

    My request is that it proceed in an informed and thoughtful way. Via a challenge with prizes, it doesn't feel informed or thoughtful. Instead, it is a headlong plunge into a huge pool with a lot of junk and a few gems.

    There's lot of concern that I didn't write to the sponsors before blogging about the challenge. We can do a lot of "should have" stuff, or we can say "all right. Here we are. Now, what are we going to do."

    To that end, my post today suggests resources to help POC Challenge participants be informed readers.

  11. I say brown and I say that to be inclusive. When I mean black I say black. But that's not what this is about.

    As someone who's been beating the drum, I say thank you. None of us can be everywhere, all the time and get it all done.

    Pam asked for help. I couldn't jump in the beginning and I'm glad she went ahead. I'm glad two others are here.

    This challenge deserves support. Thank Maude, we can edit, correct, and add.

    Those of us who know good books both literature and criticism, please send lists. Those who read and review, drop those links.

    Let's ask questions. Let attack messages without attacking messengers. Let's be candid and civil.

    Or we can continue circling the wagon going nowhere.

  12. One thing you could do is recommend books that have won awards such as:

    The Coretta Scott King Award.

    Given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.

    Pura Belpre Award.
    The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.,%20Grants%20and%20Scholarships&uid=B9EF73E2B7604A57


    American Indian Library Association's "American Indian Youth Services Literature Award."

    Books selected to receive the award will present Native Americans in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.

  13. There are other awards for specific groups. I hope individuals with knowledge about those awards provide links to relevant pages.

    There is a concern voiced by several people, that readers don't have time to also read literary criticism. That phrase "literary criticism" makes a lot of people, me included, cringe. It is often very dense and difficult to understand.

    In my writing, I speak as free-of-jargon as I can. If you go over to my site, you'll find that I'm writing in a straight forward voice. And, my posts are short and to the point, written to give readers some tips, thoughts to consider. Though I'm a professor, I'm not hiding out in that ivory tower we call university. I'm not a tenured professor. That may, or may not, happen. I may be getting the boot in the next couple of years. In fact, the blog works against my own job security. Instead of blogging, I should be writing articles, book chapters, and my own book. (I do that, too, but blogging does take time from that sort of writing.) But!!! Blogging means I have a much broader audience than if I limited my writing to the publications that other academics read.

    Sometimes, you'll see, I'm angry. My writing captures that anger. We've got sooooo faaaar to go with respect to the ways that Americans view American Indians. There's sooooo many cliches that Americans carry and use everyday.

    Honest Injun
    Circle the wagons
    Off the reservation
    Sit Indian style

    There's so many schools with Indian mascots. Some are "romantic" noble Indians, and some are grotesque savage Indians. Either one obscures who we really are.

    I think what I'm trying to say to all of you, is that it is really really hard to see problematic images of American Indians in books you read because American society is blanketed with problematic images that we don't even recognize as problematic.

    Here's a link to my very lengthy list of books that I recommend.

    A terrific book to help you see problems is DO ALL INDIANS LIVE IN TIPIS? It is published by the National Museum of the American Indian. Awesome book. I wrote about it here:

  14. Debbie,

    Great links! I'll be adding and reading.

    I read your blog and love what you do. I've been called angry. I admit when I'm angry so your anger is no affront to me.

    Thanks for coming back because I for one hoped you come back and share.


  15. Debbie, these are fantastic resources. Thank you for posting them. I added a link to your website and to your Recommended Children's/YA/Reference/Resource Books page in the left column of "Helpful Links for POC Reading" and will be adding the books you've suggested here and at your site this weekend when I get a chance over the next few days. Thanks again!

  16. Librarian/media specialist Edi at Crazy Quilt has compiled an extensive list of YA-African American titles here:

  17. A special thanks to Color Online for sharing information on the POC Reading. I look forward to sharing information with our readers over at RAWSISTAZ and linking to this site.

    I'm still reading the other posts, but is this challenge only for those who don't already read books with POC? Our site specializes in African-American books, authors, book reviews, events, etc.


  18. Tee

    If you are an expert please join in and recommend books!


    Thank you so much for those links