I know everyone involved means well. Good intentions and this attention WILL make a difference in what is bought, what is read, etc. Still, it unsettles me, and I'm mulling over WHY it unsettles me.
I think it bothers me because I wish we were further than that, as a society. Obviously, even though we went through the 60s, and diversity and multiculturalism are big buzz words, we've got a long way to go. And so, it is a good thing for influential people in the field to be making it a point to read books by writers of color.
The challenge is evidence, I suppose, that all the influential people who pushed this literature in the 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s were largely unsuccessful.
So! I appreciate the effort and I understand the intent.
But! One aspect of the POC Challenge that I really don't like is that prizes are now being added. There are levels in the challenge regarding how many books any given participant will read in a specific time period. All in good fun, I know, but by adding prizes, it replicates incentive programs for kids that many of us find problematic.
And, it smacks, somehow that I can't quite put into words. You get prizes for hanging with us people of color (via our books). It turns a serious issue into a game.
Now, I know that this post will get some hackles up. You're only trying to help. I know. I get it. But I hope you'll think about what I'm saying. Mull it over.
I took a look at the list of books being generated. I'm glad to see Louise Erdrich on the list, but where are her children's books? The books on the list are books she wrote for adult readers. Sherman Alexie isn't on the list. Neither is Joseph Bruchac. Lot of Native writers could be added to that list.
And! Some people should be taken off that list. The one I'm thinking of is Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He is not a Native writer.
This may come off as self-serving, but I'll toss it out there anyway.
When I look at the blog rolls of major bloggers, they list blogs they read. Do their blog rolls list critics of color? I'm uncomfortable asking the question because it can come off as defensive, but, where's my blog in those lists? On some of those blogs, things I write are taken up as conversation, and that's a good thing, but why not include a link to my blog in the blog roll?
That, I suppose, is my challenge to the people taking the POC Challenge. Read criticism by people of color.
UPDATE, JANUARY 31, 2009.
I followed up with "Second Post: The POC Challenge"