There’s nothing more exciting than the prospect of finally seeing myself in the books I read except, oh wait, I never do.
I look and look and search and search and all that meets me is a gap, all that meets me is the laughter track as if I am on a comedy show and I am the queer character that has just had a cruel trick played on them. All that meets me is parts of my identity dismembered and separated into different stories but never am I whole. Because according to books, I do not exist. Nobody knows me. They know depressed teenagers in young adult literature and queer ones and black teenagers and teenagers in a bunch of other countries, third world and not, although rarely Jamaica. So, when privileged writers complain about marginalized writers and readers criticizing the way they portray the marginalized, it becomes a point where we stop looking at those that are marginalized and we start paying attention to the privileged and we turn back to lifting them up and making them comfortable rather than establishing equality for those who need it within the publishing industry. Privileged writers, for the most part, have seen themselves in literature and media, so how can they still complain and fight against those who haven’t? Complain and fight against the very people that will in the end be putting money in their pockets.
I hate that there are people with the view right now that all marginalized people must do all the work. I do the work all the time and they do not even realize it. I smile when one of my gorgeous friends says something ignorant, and then take a deep breath and educate to the point where it triggers me. When you call me a slur word, if I do not hop on you and pull your hair, screaming and making you pay, I will keep on drinking because you aren’t worth my time and I am educated enough to know my worth does not decrease because you are ignorant. I do all the work, but what load do you pick up? Do you seriously not realize, after all the experience you should have had in this industry by now, that you reap all of the benefits? Could you look me in the eye when you answered these questions?
The publishing industry has always catered to those who are white cishet Americans. And the moment that we finally start looked at other groups of people, privileged writers are out there writing entire threads about why it is unwise for marginalized to critique them and complain about paying sensitivity readers and demand that we read their representation, that may be shoddy anyway, for free. It’s annoying when you go against our campaign and still claim to be our allies; you still claim to be benefactors but are you really when you attempt to smother and silence our voices? How do you feel when you say that marginalized people should not discourage you from writing our stories when people of your privileged group do a poor job? If we are talking to those who misrepresent and you are doing your research and work, then why do you feel so threatened? Do you feel strong telling us how to react to our marginalization?
Stop acting like all I do is whine, like this piece is a teenage nonbinary just whining and whining and not doing any work. I work every day. Marginalized people and their struggles are underestimated far too often for my liking. Tolerating suicide jokes is work. Fighting against homophobic and racist slurs is work. Honestly, just coming across it without saying anything will still make me feel burdened. I could work until I feel like I’m about to die, but that wouldn’t make progress any faster and even though you can bet money I will keep working, I cannot do all the work all the time, I am too tired.
I write because I want to exist. I write and write and write but it doesn’t mean I will publish immediately, everything smooth sailing. So you should stop talking like it’s so easy when you’ve never tried to live this life. It’s so easy to talk because you can count on someone being on the side of your privileged perspective. I speak because there is an entire world out there telling me not to. There is an entire world out there where people are quiet and unless I say something, nothing will be said, and then people seeing my courage to speak up can gain some of their own courage, too. I write stories about kids that I do not see enough for the younger me. For the younger kids that will be similar to the marginalized teens that are my friends and whom I love today. I write because no one else will. Because when I speak, you are still there rolling your eyes. You are still there feeling threatened and crying out like a mewling kitten to the book world for approval. You are still there saying, “Hi, I am an uncomfortable white/straight/cis/neuronormative person”, and when people see reason with you, all I can feel is rage. The first words that I wish to let off my finger tips are these: “It is not about you. Do you understand? This. Is. Not. For. You. This is about the teenagers who are suffering, the teenagers who are dying, who are alone and sheltered and afraid and are the child of immigrants and born citizens and have nowhere to turn to see themselves. This is about our kids. It has ALWAYS been about you, and it cannot be any longer.”
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader”- Margaret Fuller
Wesaun is a teenage book lion who is passionate about many things, but the main are: books, art, equality in YA lit, supporting good people in the community, women, and all things queer/lesbian, not to say the two are interchangeable.
They are a book blogger at Oreos & Books: (oreoandbooks.wordpress.com), beta/sensitivity reader of Writing In The Margins, and will forever talk about how they’ve been dubbed, “social media warrior that will eat you alive” and “volunteer publicist” by bloggers within the community, because, well, it’s true.
In their spare time, you can find them writing either in a notebook or on a computer, creating an art piece frantically from an idea that just popped into their head, watching queer Youtubers/admiring queerer fashion, or reading a book whilst walking down stairs, the streets of New York, and other unsafe places to read while walking.
You can also find well as being really overenthusiastic on their Twitter: @epicbooklover/their transitioning business email: email@example.com.