Books, News

The Thursday Book Beat: Working Towards Diversity in Every Space We Have

Hey there, dear readers! I’m back from an amazing weekend in New York City, where I spent my Sunday with lots of bookish people at Blogbound. It was so invigorating to be surrounded by readers, authors, and book lovers for an entire afternoon, and I’m definitely looking forward to any future events that Nicole Brinkley, Julianne Daly and Kaye M. might have in store for us.

But on to the news! It’s been a busy and heartwrenching week, and a couple of our news pieces are in response to the terrible things happening to the African-American community. We start with a string of conversations around #BlackLivesMatter, as teen writer Camryn Garrett’s MTV piece on said movement led to harassment by a white YA author, Julia Nielsen. Nielsen sent several racist tweets to Garrett, prompting the YA community into action to defend Garrett and her work. Rather predictably, Nielsen later claimed she was hacked, and that her tweets to Garrett weren’t representative of her real opinions on #BlackLivesMatter and of black people in general.

Jenny Trout offers a succinct summary of what happened, highlighting the dismissal and racism in Nielsen’s words, and the unsettling fact that Nielsen was targeting a teenager, her audience as a YA writer. Nielsen later tried to claim that bullying was the real problem, turning a vague apology to Garrett and the YA community into a defense of her opinions. Needless to say, the community did not respond the way Nielsen had hoped. Speaking for myself, I stand with Camryn Garrett, her brave words, and her activism.

For those of us working to be supportive allies to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, resources and knowledge are great ways to start. Chelsea Couillard-Smith, a librarian at the Hennepin County library in Michigan, has curated a list of books for teens trying to learn about #BLM. Walter Dean Myers, Marilyn Nelson, and Ta-Nehisi Coates all make appearances on the list, and I’m definitely adding all of these books to my own TBR pile.

Finally, I bring a plea from an indie bookstore in my backyard. Glad Day Bookshop is the oldest existing LGBTQ bookstore in the world, serving a community that’s only grown since its inception in 1971. But with rising rental costs, the bookshop is looking at moving from Yonge and Wellesley to Church Street, and has started an IndieGoGo campaign to ask for help with the move. Michael Erickson, co-owner of Glad Day, sees the store as not just a place to buy books, but a place for the community to gather and interact and grow:

We want this to be a space for everybody. We’re thrilled that we’re going to have a space that’s wheelchair accessible and can be a gathering point for people across ages, genders and ethnicities — something we built at the current location over the past four years. But now we can expand it to the whole community without a barrier.

The campaign has 10 days left to go, and just over 50% of its goal has been met. Support Glad Day if you have the capacity to do so–I know they’ll be incredibly grateful for whatever we can spare to keep this space open!