Now I know that people have strong feelings about this topic, "Yes boycott it's the only way to get things done!" or "No boycotting is mean and hurtful!". But hear me out. I want to start a dialogue for solutions. I just got home from school so I'm trying to catch up on emails/comments/twitter (no response from Bloomsbury yet, I will let you guys know if I get one). I'm going to list the pros and cons of boycotting Bloomsbury to help people understand why it's good AND bad. I'll also post my own suggestions. Then I want you guys to leave comments telling me what YOU are going to do and leaving the rest of the blogging community suggestions. I'll go through them and update this post constantly.
I will NOT tolerate any name calling or singling out any blogger in a negative way. It defeats the purpose and hurts potential allies. There's no need for that. Express your opinion, respectfully and without using names (unless you want to give good attention to a blogger). However, don't comment asking "what's the big deal" or tell me to leave it alone. Well you can, but I'll ignore the comment because honestly, that's ignorant. If you want to know why it's a big deal, read my letter and other people's blog posts and comments.
The problem: The same publishing company, Bloomsbury is whitewashing covers. First Liar, now Magic Under Glass. Both about POC, both received covers with white models on them (Liar's cover was changed). The deeper issue here is why does Bloomsbury think this is ok? And how will we change their minds?
Pro Boycott Bloomsbury: A great post in favor of a Bloomsbury boycott is at Black Eyed Susan's: Starting MLK Day With a Protest.
Boycotting does work. Best example: MLK's bus boycott. Enough said. Money talks and if Bloomsbury sees their sales dropping, I think they will get the memo. They will know why because people will have been blogging/emailing/writing and complaining about their whitewashing ways. If they see that people are disappointed in them whitewashing book covers and sending the message that books about POC are not important, they will have to change their ways because they want to make money.
From Eva at A Striped Armchair: I don't read/buy YA books, so my opinion on the boycott is more theoretical than actual. But I think boycotting all Bloomsbury books will send a message across. And obviously, they didn't get the message after Liar. So more dramatic action is needed. It's sad that the authors are going to be hurt as well. But Bloomsbury needs a clearer message.
I've sent them an e-mail, and I'm also planning on my e-mailing my public library system. It has a lot of teen outreach programs, and I'm wondering if they'd be interested in coordinating a protest campaign. I live in a pretty white city, but I'm hoping for the best!
Cons: It hurts the author and all the authors after him or her. If we boycott Bloomsbury and they see that Magic Under Glass (or any other book about a poc that has been whitewashed) isn't selling well, they will most likely drop the author. I don't want that to happen (and you shouldn't either) because if the author has actually written about a POC we should support them and show that yes money talks and we will buy books about POC even if we are not POC ourselves because we want a GOOD story and it doesn't have to be about a white person to be a good story. Furthermore, if Bloomsbury sees that a book about a poc is not selling, they very well may decide that publishing books about poc is a waste of time (although they have few to begin with) and stop publishing them all together. And then we'll be even worse off.
Donna at Bites says: I absolutely refuse to boycott as it would have such an adverse affect on authors with back and front lists with Bloomsbury. There's no need to punish them when they're not at fault.
I think the best course of action are letter-writing campaigns, flooding inboxes and voicemail boxes, and just making sure voices are heard. Support authors but let the publisher know they need to change their tactics. It's a sticky situation and while boycotting does work, it'll hurt more than the publisher.
1. Email or write a letter to Bloomsbury! (preferably email because it's faster)
2. Blog about it! To find excerpts and links to other blog posts about whitewashing and Bloomsbury failures go here
3. Go buy a book about a poc. And make a commitment to include more books about poc on your blog or if you don't have a blog, just diversify your reading pile. No excuses about not being able to find any books about poc. You guys have Google and a bunch of other resources (including me, Color Online, Tu Publishing, theHappyNappyBookseller, White Readers Meet Black Authors, Crazy Quilts, Gal Novelty and Fledgling). If you only blog about a specific genre and you need some suggestions for books about poc then feel free to leave me a comment or email me, I'd be happy to give suggestions, I know how hard it can be to find poc books in historical fiction or sci fi/fantasy (just two big examples). If you don't have the money to buy a book right now (believe me I understand with this economy every penny counts) then go to your library. If they have nothing, talk to the librarians, ask for books about POC. Usually if you express interest in a book they will try and get it.
5. Join the POC Reading Challenge Right now. Pam at bookalicio.us started this in response to whitewashed covers. That is so huge and beyond amazing! Thank you Pam (I wish I knew who you were =/ Anyone know?)
6. Reach out to potential allies like Ursula Le Guin who writes about POC and constantly got covers with white people on them. Read her awesome post here about her whitewashed covers and how her books were whitewashed on TV as well. Then write her letter asking her to speak out. She doesn't accept emails, I'll be writing a letter asap. I'm really sad that I've never read her books, must remedy that! Thank you to Cara at Ooh..Books! for this idea.
7. Sign a petition! I'll Buy the Book says Dear Publishing Houses,
We appreciate your work and the selection of great books you provide us with.
We do not pick books based on the color of skin on the cover. We love books for their story; so if the main character is Asian, Hispanic, African-American, gay or overweight, and is accurately represented on the cover, fear not. If we love the story, we’ll certainly buy the book!
-Covers everyone. It's short, sweet and to the point! Please, please sign :)
And for those of you who went to the Bloomsbury booth at ALA Midwinter and expressed your feelings, THANK YOU! To those of you who have blogged and emailed and wrote letters and left comments and screamed yourself hoarse, THANK YOU!
These are just quick thoughts and I really want to hear your own ideas. I'm trying to respond to emails and update posts as fast as I can, but bear with me :)