image taken from users on TikTok who have been changing their profile pics to this
As we enter June, protests regarding Black Lives Matter, and the murder of George Floyd and countless other people of color continue to happen. The past few days have brought the spotlight to the problems within America involving race. However, people of all backgrounds have been coming together to fight back against the persistent racism that has been destroying our nation. While many celebrities have been using their platform to speak out against the injustice, it is interesting and imperative to look at how authors have been speaking out as well. As an author and a writer, it is almost your duty to spread your message through your greatest skill, your written word. This ranges from not only writers specifically, but also any sort of company that releases articles or books.
NetGalley, a site where book reviewers and other professional readers can read books prior to their publication, released a statement condemning racism and oppression. In a recent mailing to all their members, NetGalley wrote, “We at NetGalley believe that our role is to help elevate the voices of the oppressed, so we can all listen and learn. Our team is actively discussing ways to further raise awareness through our platform.” As a book-sharing platform, they feel that it is their duty to spread awareness through what their platform has based itself on. Not only did they provide a donation to George Floyd’s memorial, they highlight that there are many Black Charities to donate to. One major thing that NetGalley is doing, unlike other organizations, is starting a conversation about books that explain and discuss anti-racism and #OwnVoices. While many people have been spreading books on social media, NetGalley is using their platform that is meant to share books, to share books specifically to make a change.
It is even more necessary, in a sense, for Young Adult writers to spread messages against injustice, as they have a younger audience. This younger audience will one day run the world, they must know what it means to be a good human, to know right and wrong, to eradicate the racism that has controlled the country for over 400 years. While some authors have not spoken out as much, others have completely spoiled their social media profiles with education and anti-racist speech.
One such writer is J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series. Although a British writer, she has not stayed silent on the matter at hand occurring in America. Constantly retweeting, her most recent Tweet showcases a list of Black-owned bookstores and publishers first made by Third Place Books. This list also includes bookstores and publishers in the UK as well. In addition to retweeting, she has been using her own voice to speak out about the events unfolding, stating “...I've been watching what's happening in America. Anything I say feels inadequate. All I know is that the world has to change. Power structures have to change. White people have to change. #BlackLivesMatter.” J.K. Rowling has never been one to stay silent on political issues, she is using her platform to spread anti-racism and Black Lives Matter. It is also imperative to note that currently, children are drawing pictures in response to her story “The Ickabog;” she has a huge younger following alongside adult one’s as well. She can reach those readers who might be too young to truly understand what is going on.
Best-selling author Stephen King has also been extremely vocal on Twitter. While he might not be posting as frequent as Rowling, his vocal points showcase his distrust and anger with how people of color are treated in America. He criticized President Trump’s handling of the situation at hand, highlighting his Church Photo-Op and his overall response to handling the riots and protests.
Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who gave us the classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale as a warning about the rising tide of religious conservatism she saw 30 years ago, tweeting her reactions to the protests, but the most on-target response came from one of her fans.
Comedian and author Sarah Copper, who was recently retweeted by Atwood, as well as appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show and racked up over a million followers for her hilarious lip syncs of Trump, commented, “My book about how to bullshit your way through work came out October 2016. Donald Trump was elected in November 2016. Maybe if my book had come out sooner more people would’ve read it and been able to see through his bullshit tactics. Ugh this is all my publisher’s fault.”
Tochi Onyebuchi, author of the young adult novel Beasts Made of Night, which won the Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African, wrote a powerful personal essay titled “I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream: The Duty of the Black Writer During Times of American Unrest,” for his publisher’s website. Those who know science ficiton history will recognize the essay title as an homage to the classic short story by Harlan Ellison.
The essay can be found here, https://www.tor.com/2020/06/01/i-have-no-mouth-and-i-must-scream-the-duty-of-the-black-writer-during-times-of-american-unrest/