Reading and Writing are Political Acts

So. Hi. We haven’t posted in a while.

Pub Crawl is not a political website. We’re a website about reading, writing, and the publishing industry.

But reading and writing are inherently political acts. Some people are urgently searching for something to do in the wake of the American presidential election, and one of the things I choose to do is embrace the political power of reading and writing.

I am committed to becoming a better listener. As someone with enormous privilege it’s easy for me to be blind to realities that are painfully obvious to other people. Listening to marginalized voices and amplifying them is one political action that I can easily take every single day.

It’s a little early to start making New Year’s resolutions, but I have already decided that in 2017 I am going to exclusively buy and read books written by marginalized authors. That means I’ll be reading books written by people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTAQ people, and people from other marginalized or underrepresented groups. Buying and reading books written by marginalized authors and then recommending some of those books to others is one achievable way to directly support these people.

Another way I can make reading a political act is to subscribe to reliable, credible news sources. We are all aware of the struggles that print journalism faces. I can do my part to support the freedom of the press by subscribing to newspapers and magazines or donating to public news organizations.

I can write fiction that is diverse, well-researched, and above all respectful. I can write social media posts in support of vulnerable populations. I can write to my representatives at all levels of government and make sure my voice is heard. I can write checks to organizations that do work I believe in. I can write privately in a journal to examine and work to dismantle my own privilege and prejudices. I can write texts to my friends who are most at risk and ask them how they are, and make it clear that I stand with them. I can write signs to hold up in protest.

These are small, but concrete actions. There is so much more that I can and will do, but these are easy things that literally anyone can do now, today. We can all buy books written by marginalized authors. We can all write to our representatives and demand better. Change begins with us.

10 Responses to Reading and Writing are Political Acts

  1. Kim Nov 16 2016 at 7:45 am #

    I love the idea of exclusively buying & reading books written by marginalized authors for 2017. I am only reading books by marginalized authors for the rest of this year as a coping mechanism for what happened–but extending it into and thorough 2017 is a fabulous idea.

    Thank you for this post.

  2. Tom Parsons Nov 16 2016 at 7:53 am #

    So right on! Thank you.

  3. doozy donegal Nov 16 2016 at 8:24 am #

    Excuse my lack of sophistication, but, what, exactly, is a ‘marginalized author’?

    • Kelly Nov 16 2016 at 8:35 am #

      Authors who are not white, straight, cis, or able-bodied. So, people of color, LGBTAQ identifying people, people with disabilities, also, people who are marginalized for their religious beliefs like Muslims. And other groups of people who may be underrepresented in mainstream American media.

      As hard as I’ve tried to diversify my reading in recent years, I still predominantly read white authors. If I really want that balance to change (and I do) the best way to do that is to stop reading those authors for an entire year to make space for other voices in my reading list.

  4. Laura Nov 16 2016 at 9:04 am #

    If a person is white, but has disabilities and identifies as LGBTQA, does this mean she wouldn’t be considered a marginalized writer? I was just wondering since this topic comes up a lot across social media and didn’t know if someone like myself wouldn’t be considered as marginalized because I’m white (and I’m always too afraid to ask because I don’t want to come across as dumb or possibly insensitive.) Thank you for your input 🙂

    • Kelly Nov 16 2016 at 9:09 am #

      For the purposes of my personal reading project, yes, I would consider such a person marginalized. I can’t speak beyond that.

    • Abigail Dec 8 2016 at 2:28 pm #

      Privilege comes in many forms. You might be benefiting from the privilege of being white and still experience the marginalisation of, for example in my case, being female in certain situations.

  5. Chris Bailey Nov 16 2016 at 9:19 am #

    Yes! We writers need to be engaged in our communities and to act on our convictions. Thank you!

  6. Mona AlvaradoFrazier Nov 16 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    Over half of the books I read and buy are by writers of color. Although some people may think this is something ‘small,’ I believe it’s an action that will snowball into a larger action.

    Reading is much like listening and great writing immerses the reader into another time and place where the listening becomes an emphatic experience.

    It is in this exposure and education to other points of view that can lead to understanding. I hope many more people pledge to buy and read more books by marginalized writers.

  7. Abigail Dec 8 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    Thank you, Kelly! Well said.

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