Hey everyone, fair warning that I may go into rant territory (which tooooo isn’t often) but I hope you will read through this post once you finish this paragraph. You may be wondering “what is that title about”? Well, the other day, A friend of mine texted me about the tweet that I posted above (the tweet is linked to the picture) asking if I knew about this. While I admittedly didn’t know about the usage of curated lists on Goodreads to target Black authors, I DID know about the targeting of POC authors on Goodreads & giving them one star. This is actually not a new practice and has been happening for many years. I have also seen this said for authors who are apart of the LGBTQIA+ community (which a lot are BIPOC) which tells me there are a lot more problems to be addressed but can’t be done in this one post (but certainly by someone who is more qualified to speak for the LGBTQIA+ family. While I consider myself an Ally, I fully acknowledge that it takes consistent WORK to truly BE an ally and I can’t speak authentically to what authors in their community experience & their readers witness.)
I remember Rin Chupeco, a Filipino-Chinese Author, talking about people giving their books 1 stars when one of their books was posted! Maybe a synopsis was there and possibly a few ARCS were out but people were PURPOSEFULLY giving their books 1 star (likely without reading it)…FOR WHAT DOE?! What is even the point of that? I know it pulls down the books ratings, making it less appealing to people who actually value the star system. It is complete and utter Bull-ish. It’s almost like a violent act against these authors. Like what do these people get out of it anyway? Is there a sick sense of joy they get? A high that can only be achieved by giving a book that doesn’t even have a title yet 1 star? Whatever they are having….keep it far away from me cause I want no parts of it!
I have been transparent in the past stating that I do not rate books (You can read that in my second blog post ever here)…I don’t believe in placing a numerical value on a book’s worth/an author’s hard work, so it simply is not my jam or ministry (no shade here if it’s yours, I can only speak my truth). If you want to know how I feel about a book, ask me and I’ll tell you in detail because I also believe that what may not have been for me could be for someone else. I actually like to assess what people’s preferences are first before I give book recs or go into great detail about how I felt about a book…but that’s just me! Words are powerful and people could be swayed away from something they actually may enjoy because you didn’t (hence why I REACT to books more so than review them). That’s another topic for another day doe.
Now, I’m not saying that when a book actually EARNS 1 star in a reviewers’ mind that it shouldn’t happen, that’s not it at all because of freewill & what not. Everyone has different taste and some books may just be trash enough for 1 star reviews…normally, those that earn 1 star to reviewers of merit (read: not [redacted]), they give some sort of explanation as to why they give them. Listen, opinions are like….noses, everyone has one but I can’t say that I wouldn’t call bull-ish on some of them but it would be for me personally. THIS is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about certain people (read: [redacted]/people who don’t want to see POC flourish) going after books by authors of color and giving 1 star ratings even if the book doesn’t have a title (see the receipt left by dear Adelina…whoever they are), haven’t had ARCs distributed, that doesn’t have a pub date that all equates to them not having read the book yet…like how can you form an opinion/rate something you don’t even have a synopsis for?! This is a practice that Goodreads has yet to give a solution as to how to end it. There is a statement somewhere on their website but NOTHING has actually been done about attempting to stop it from what could be seen from my end so the statement is just a collection of possibly nice sounding words in my opinion.
Now what can we do to combat this, you ask? Well, you can go look at Authors Of Colors books you’ve read to see what their ratings are. If you haven’t already, rate their work 3 & up stars (if you feel their work deserves it, of course) and possibly do a write up. By doing this, you would help offset some of those 1 star reviews, bringing up their overall rating which would help them a bit. You could also recommend their work to others who would actually appreciate their stories and encourage those people to add ratings for that book/those books. Word of mouth, better known as social media these days, is the best way to get these books into reader’s hands that would enjoy them and hopefully spread more positive opinions about them.
Authors of Color deserve their flowers, not unjustified 1 star ratings. They are doing the underrepresented masses a service by giving them stories that they could actually see themselves in. As I said in the blog post I linked earlier, I have had 30+ years of books that I didn’t & couldn’t see myself in because those stories weren’t ever written for me or anyone who looks like me/has similar life experiences. I would love to see this generation and all the generations after it continue to receive books that serve as mirrors for them and windows for others & sliding glass doors for all (Angie Thomas spoke about this but I can’t find where she said it). This is why I invest my time, energy AND MONEY…not just coins but bills that fold & obscene balances at the end of most bookstore visits (I got mad receipts layin’ around to prove it), into POC authors and their books. I’m not new to this, I’m true to this and I’m on a mission y’all…just sayin’.
Now that you all know that this is a thing on book rating sites (I heard this happens on another platform, it may not be for the same reason or action but the intent is pretty much the same), there is something that we all can do to stand behind these authors. Besides what I suggested earlier, we can post about their books on these sites, shout all over social media/blogs/videos hyping up their work, gift their books to people who could ACTUALLY appreciate whats being placed in their hands and call out the defamation of these author’s works when we see it (get a little gully if you need to but not so much so that you end up in an orange jumpsuit in need of bail, we’re not tryin’ to catch charges outchea). We can rally around these authors while they continue to bust their tails to break through the publishing ceiling to give us all books that we can connect with & truly represent so many people. We should want to protect them like we want to protect Betty White and any living legends we have (which, I’m here for too).
Okay y’all, I’mma hop off my soapbox now. I hope you all join me in lookin’ out for these authors and raising awareness of not just their works but the injustices they suffer on a daily basis (I didn’t even skim the surface of the ish they go through)…let’s hype them up the way Black Women hype each other (we are hella effective at this) and booster their spirits so they can continue to push through for not just us but themselves too (writing is taxing y’all…and I don’t do it nearly as much as they do). If you want to continue this chat, then lets! You can find & follow me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can find me mostly in book centered clubs/rooms (primarily on Tuesdays and Fridays). Also subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already because it makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in the warmest fleece planet on the planet! Later Y’all & Don’t forget to hype up your fav authors on these e-streets!