How it’s going.

A few weeks into my year of non straight white men reading and I find myself challenged and surprised in different ways than expected.  Which should have been expected, of course 🙂

While home for a few days in Illinois to visit family and friends, I perused my bookshelf for titles to fill the other half of the suitcase I intended to bring back to Minneapolis, and was dismayed to find that several shelves were almost entirely composed of works by SWM.  But I did bring back a few potential gems, some already read and many not.  These include:

I’ve also revised my lens for library searches, which resulted in the discovery of the literature section that contains anthologies of works from different groups of people of color, which should prove fruitful for unearthing works I wouldn’t otherwise be alerted to.  Between my personal library, the Hennepin county collection, and the recommendations of all you wonderful people, I do believe I will have more literary works to digest than I have time for.

So rather than insights coming from the books by NSWM that I’m discovering and reading, I am consistently astounded by my sudden awareness of the featured books in popular media.  Though I’m certain it has been so for much longer than I’ve been paying attention to it, the vast majority of books reviewed and featured in nearly every form of mainstream media, from newspapers to magazines (even those that are specifically about reviewing books!) are written by SWM. And of those that are not, the second largest representation is from straight white women.  I suppose I should include some sort of disclaimer that it is sometimes difficult to discern a writer’s race/ethnicity from their name, and nearly impossible to discern their sexual orientation.  However, I have found that much of the time if the writer identifies as LGBT it is specifically mentioned at some point in the review/feature, whereas if they are heterosexual it is overlooked and unmentioned entirely.

I am glad for the challenges to my perceptions that the first month of my year of NSWM reading has brought me, and want to sit with those challenges and insights for at least another month or so before adding on any other intentional mind expanding work (though such things happen every day unintentionally, at least I should hope so!).  However, I hope to continue expanding my worldview and anti-racism work, so if anyone has ideas of other challenges, please do share, whether they are fully-fledged or only half-formed.

~Lauren

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