Except that both lists are OVERWHELMINGLY white and male. Some disparity is reflective of the issues in publishing in history. But when one writes a list purporting to reflect our modern world, the practical erasure women, persons of color, and the GQBTL community is not only indicative of an narrow and over privileged point of view, it’s obtuse and just plain wrong.
By the numbers, here are the kinds of voices Newsweek thinks you should be reading now:
- 42 out of 50 writers (an ENORMOUS 84%), are white
- 39 out of 50 writers (78%) are men
- 33 out of 50 writers (66%) are white men
- 48 out of 50 writers are straight
- 49 out of 50 writers are either white or male.
And by the numbers, here are the voices that define literature for all time:
- 84 out of 100 were men
- 88 of 100 were white
- 97 out of 100 were either white or male
You’re not going to hear me claim that this is a post-racial society that Newsweek is deigning to reflect, but persons of color, women, and BQTLG-identified folks are a major and significant part of our society’s discourse today. I often do not read a diverse enough roster of writers, but’s utterly asinine to exempt or ignore their perspective on society when purporting to choose the books that represent today.
In a time in which the isms or race, sex, and sexuality are far from unsolved and making news on a daily basis, how can a list of books written primarily by white straight men "deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways"? How are we supposed to see ourselves in new ways if we're listening to the same old voices we've always privileged?