voces silenciadas

on

Del otro lado de la noche
Francisco X. Alarcón
qué decir
ante
el silencio

las páginas
que se quedan
sin escribir

los libros
en donde
todavia

ni somos
ni estamos
ni existimos

esta vida
condenada
al olvido

aquí
nadie sabe
ni sabrá

del mar
que llevamos
adentro

From the Other Side of Night

what to say
about silence

the pages
left
unwritten

the books
in which
we are yet

to be
appear
exist

this life
condemned
to oblivion

here
nobody knows
nor will know

of the sea
we carry
within us

So I posted a short while back about the alarmingly small number of books published this year whose authors are US-based and of African descent–thanks to Zetta Elliott at Fledgling. Well, Zetta provided a link to Doret at The Happy Nappy Bookseller. Doret “found 14 MG/YA books by Latino authors published this year in the United States”–14! Her post here. I expected low numbers (because I am not completely naive) but 14! Doret writes, “I am willing concede that I may have missed or been unaware of a few authors. Even if the number was tripled, that would only make 42, still far from respectable.”

I am republishing the list. And I think we should revisit some of Zetta’s ideas for action:

  1. READ THESE BOOKS!  I had a lot of help putting together this list and there were many titles I’d never heard of, which is precisely the problem:  publishers don’t put much marketing money behind books by writers of color.  So now that we know about these books, we need to give them a chance—and if you find a title you like, recommend it!  See what else that author may have written.  Shine some light on books that are too often left in the dark…
  2. Go through the list of MG/YA titles and see how many of these are available at your local and/or school library.  If these titles aren’t in the system, consider asking your library to acquire them.
  3. Take the list to your local bookseller—indie or big chain—and see how many of these titles are (or were ever) in stock.  Many books by black authors don’t sell well because they never even make it onto the shelf…
  4. Print out the list and visit your ten favorite book blogs.  Scan the archives and see how many MG/YA novels by black authors were featured, mentioned, or reviewed on your favorite blogs.  Another challenge black authors face is invisibility in the blogosphere; consider asking your favorite book blogger to add (more) writers of color to their review list.
  5. The next time you attend a book festival or reading at your local library/bookstore, check to see how many authors of color are included.  In 2010, it’s not acceptable for a literary event to exclude authors of color—especially when the exposure could help sales, which would then strip publishers of their excuse that “black books don’t sell.”  If you’re a parent, make sure your child’s teachers use a diverse selection of books in the classroom (and not only during various heritage months).

If you have other suggestions, please share them by leaving a comment or taking up this issue on your own blog.  Maybe we need our own designated week/month…what I’d really like to see is sustained support for MARGINALIZED WRITERS!

Doret’s List (as of this posting):

How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez

Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes

Amigas#2, Lights Camera, Quince – by Veronica Chambers

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia Mccall

The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez

Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena

Efrain’s Secret by Sofia Quintero

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

Mr. Mendonza’s Paintbursh by Luis Alberto Urrea

***    adding 2 more (18.Oct):

The F Factor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand

She’s Got Game by Veronica Chambers

 

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