A Book Is A Dream You Hold In Your Hand” —Neil Gaiman.
This is a terrifying moment for me.
When the real world sucks with its politics, gender discrimination and general blah, I exit stage left and run off to fictional lands insides of books. I have spent lifetimes in books, computerized realms, and literary discourse. I am kind of a wallflower and observer. People who know me also say I can be opinionated, funny and a bit of ham. Both these versions of me are true. But right now, I am also an angry reader.
Angry with the “real” world I have live in sometimes. Where observing is no long interesting or pleasurable. Its world where I am frustrated with the ideas sometimes I am forced to read, listen to, and endure. When it gets too much, I still run off to my favorite fictional lands and remember when I believed in the purposeful adventure and noble hero. However, these days escape is no long as easy as use to be because I am pissed.
Historically, I have read books about white males written by men who were white and male. Later as my taste expanded, women and girls slowly walked onto the page in a limited capacity. Still rarely, did any of the characters looked like me or the people who roamed my every day life. Friends, family, neighbors were missing from the pages of these books. When asked why, it was explained that “mainstream audience” was not interested brown little girls’ stories and that weren’t that many writers of color to do the job.
Both myths I know to be lies…now. I know why readers of all stripes and the media believe these things. The myths are based on a fundamental bias. A bias so rooted deep in our history, traditions and our collective subconscious that most people don’t notice. America has a tradition of ignoring large swaths of humanity that don’t look like the founding fathers. A tradition that makes stories about “the other” invisible and unnecessary. So it makes harder for writer of color to be published. And when published, to be marketed and discovered by readers.
As reader, woman and person of color, I had been made invisible by big media, the cultural myths and the bestseller list. But late last year, I decided it was enough. It was time to read myself into existence. To see myself, my family and friends on page, screen and in the discussion.
This moment is terrifying for me because I am taking a quiet decision to change my reading habits and telling the world. No! More like declaring: I have a dream where people can read books from all genres written by writers of color. Books with characters that look and sound like me. The books and writers are out there.
Welcome to Project Mosaic!