I Don't Need Diverse Books: On Re-defining 'We' and Making Black Art

Hi, American literary community! It's me, the diversity. I'm sure you recognize me--the face you turn to as Black history month approaches, the strategic audience to your rant about police brutality, the friend you eye during a reading when Cave Canem is mispronounced, the workshop peer you consult when you're worried your poem "might be offensive to some people of color." It's me, all of us! The majority of society.

I understand what you mean when you say you're "trying to be more diverse." You mean Native, you mean brown, you mean Black, you mean trans, you mean Blacker. Go ahead, you can say it. Say it out loud right now. Black. We also understand that our diversity excites you. That mouths water at the words "authentic" or "exotic" or "foreign." What I mean is, let's remember that there are people behind these numbers, these hashtags, these images you devour, these poems you solicit and share. What I mean is, I'm a person, and it's uncomfortable when you forget that. Sometimes I feel myself shifting from Morgan, Age 27, Brooklyn, Sagittarius into a checked box next to woman, POC, diverse, African-American. Sometimes I feel my little cousin morphing into a background photo for a #BlackLivesMatter open mic night.

I, we, don't need to read more diverse books--We're reading them, we've written them, we've lived them. We've been here. There's an audience for #WeNeedDiverseBooks, just like there's an audience for #BlackLivesMatter: and it isn't us, white male minority, it's you. You need to read and publish more diverse books and writers. You need to make space, to do the work, to be the change you wish to see, etc. etc. etc. I already know I matter.

Read the full article on the Poetry Foundation website.