Writers of Color 50 Book Challenge

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FAQ
Escher Snakes
sanguinity wrote in 50books_poc

Frequently Asked Questions



General
Why make a special point of reading authors of color?
Is the challenge going to be hard (depressing, unpleasant, just like having homework)?
Who counts as a 'person of color'?
How can I find out if an author is a person of color?
Where can I find book recommendations/suggestions?
I think the comm would be interested in [book by white author]. Can I write a post about it?

Counting
Do I have to read fifty books?
Why count?
What counts as a book?
What kinds of books count?
When does the year start? Who keeps track?

Tags and Posting Reviews
What if I get behind on my reviews?
How should I hide spoilers?
Where are the tags for authors / editors / illustrators? Are these really all the posts on the community for (insert popular author here)?
Who tags the posts? How do I tag posts?


Why make a special point of reading authors of color? What does one get out of the challenge?

We're not going to even try to sum up people's reasons for being here -- it strongly depends on who you are and what background you bring to the challenge. But here, have a sampling of what some members have said about why they did the challenge:

Is the challenge going to be hard (depressing, unpleasant, just like having homework)?

If you want it to be, you can make it so. We’re not going to try to stop you from getting your hard/depressing/unpleasant/just-like-homework groove on.

However, it's not supposed to be like that. This challenge can be enormous fun. While many famous books by people of color (especially the ones you might have read in high school) are about serious topics and/or are depressing, there are also a lot of upbeat books out there. Additionally, whatever your favorite genre is, there are books in that genre that qualify for the comm. (There are probably even more than fifty of them!) There's no reason to be reading books you don't enjoy.

That said, many people find they need to make a mental shift when they first join the comm, and that shift can sometimes be an uncomfortable hump to get over. (Hump, not a mountain.) Trust that it's temporary, and if it's getting to you, consider switching up genres or topics to something a little lighter for a while. Sometimes that helps.

Who counts as a 'person of color'?

Generally speaking, the comm's mods aren't eager to police the boundaries of who's "really" POC, or who's POC "enough" -- if an author has a legitimate claim to being POC (i.e., the author is not an outright fake or wannabe) we'll default toward including them within the comm's scope.

If you're uncertain about a particular author, read through the "
who's poc?" tag to see if previous discussions are helpful. If you're still unsure about whether to include an author, it's okay to ask the comm for advice.

How can I find out if an author is a person of color?

While Google will usually tell you if an author is POC, it will almost never tell you that an author is white. If you can't figure out if an author is POC or not, that usually means the author is not POC.

Possible places to look for information:
  • Google image search could help you find an author photo (which can confirm that someone is POC, but not that they aren't, especially in the cases of mixed-race, Native, North African, and Middle Eastern authors)
  • author websites (or faculty webpages!)
  • Wikipedia article for the author (check both the bio section and the categories list at the bottom of the page)
  • author interviews
  • reference sites like Voices from the Gaps (see del.icio.us booklists for other lists of authors)
One additional note: please don't assume that names will identify someone as POC or not -- names can be acquired by marriage, adoption, or even personal choice (pseudonyms!)

Where can I find book recommendations/suggestions?

If you have links to submit to the del.icio.us account, join del.icio.us, add “50books_poc” to your network, and then save a bookmark to your account with the tag “for:50books_poc”. It’ll get to us.

I think the comm would be interested in [book by white author]. Can I write a post about it?

No. This is a comm for books written by authors of color.

"Authors of color," by the way, does not mean "authors who are oppressed." White Jewish lesbian disabled authors who write about people of color (f'rinstance) are still white authors.

As to why the comm distinguishes between authors of color and white authors writing about characters of color:


Counting

Do I have to read fifty books?

No, you don't. There are at least three ways to participate in the comm. Choose what best suits you:

  • Do the 50 Books Challenge: read fifty books by authors of color in the course of a year. Read your books, count your books, and post your write-ups/reviews/impressions.

  • Do a variant of the challenge: commit to fifty books, but take more than a year if you need to. Or read fifty poems or short stories in a year. Or don't set a target number, but keep count of the books by authors of color that you read in a year. Or some other variant that makes sense for you and pushes you to read more authors of color.

  • Skip the challenge: post recommendations and/or reviews, participate in discussions, and otherwise encourage people to read works by authors of color.
Basically, we just want people to read works by authors of color. We’re pretty open to any degree of participation that furthers that end.

Why count?

People are (generally) really bad at estimating how much they actually did something versus how much they thought about doing something. It’s just the way we’re wired. Also, most people find that the book world generally defaults toward books by white authors, so if you don’t pay attention to what you’re reading, you accidentally end up reading far fewer works by authors of color than you had intended to. Counting is an excellent way of paying attention.

However, if you prefer not to count, don’t count.

What counts as a book?

Anything bound within its own cover. Plus audiobooks and ebooks. Plus other booklike things.

What kinds of books count?

All of them. Short books count. (Who doesn't like short books?) Children's books count. Cookbooks count. Graphic novels, picture books, wordless books, anthologies, books of maps, dictionaries, prayer books, knitting pattern books, books as art, even edible books are all good. As long as they are by people of color.

That said, some participants have chosen to add extra restrictions for themselves, such as to not count manga or re-reads: that's fine. You're choosing this challenge for your own reasons; we trust you to define your terms for yourself. Just make sure that you don't make your additional rules so strict that you burn out.

When does the year start? Who keeps track?

You pick your own starting date; you keep your own count.


Posting Reviews

What if I get behind on my reviews?

Your reviews are not meant to be graded book reports. SRSLY. If you want to do a book-report-like review, go for it, but don't let the review-writing kill your enjoyment of the comm. It's okay to post a couple sentences about your impressions; it's okay to post a list of your books and let people ask about the ones that interest them. This comm is to get you reading authors of color: if participating in the comm is getting in the way, then change how you participate in the comm.

How should I hide spoilers?

Either cut-tag spoilers, or use the following code to highlight-to-read:

(<a title="Skip this Spoiler" href="#skip.firstspoiler">skip spoiler</a>)
<div title="This is a spoiler. Highlight to read." style="color:#666; 
background-color:#666; border:2px red solid"> SPOILER TEXT GOES HERE
</div> <a name="skip.firstspoiler"></a>

Please use this code exactly as written, including the hyperlinks. If you have more than one spoiler, change both instances of "skip.firstspoiler" to "skip.secondspoiler", and so forth.

The spoiler-code should render as such:(
skip spoiler)
Spoilery deliciousness is so spoilery and delicious! Yay for spoiler-codes that help people preserve the spoilery deliciousness!


Where are the tags for authors / editors / illustrators? Are these really all the posts on the community for (insert popular author here)?

Author / editor / illustrator tags are now kept on Delicious. The bulk of the tags have already been transferred; any lingering author tags you see here on LJ will probably only have very recent posts attached to them.

Who tags the posts? How do I tag posts?

The community is transitioning from keeping all tags on LiveJournal, to keeping some tags on LiveJournal and some tags on Delicious (with certain tags duplicated on both sites). We're still working out how the process is going to work in full; please bear with us. For the (extended) moment, however...

Currently, we are moving all author/editor/illustrator tags to Delicious. (LiveJournal has a tag limit that simply does not accommodate the number of authors, editors, and illustrators reviewed on this comm.) We are also working out the tag scheme for nationality, ethnicity, etc., so that those tags can be regularized and duplicated on both sites. When we finalize that tag scheme, we'll be locking down new tag creation and creating a process whereby people can tell us when a new tag needs to be created.

For now, please tag each book by
  • genre
  • subject
  • author nationality/ethnicity
  • protagonist or location nationality/ethnicity</b> (if different from that of the author)
Have a look at existing tags whenever possible to try to minimize tag duplication. (Yes, we know there are already a scad of duplicates in there. Do the best you can; as we said, we're working on getting that sorted out.)

Additionally, please duplicate those tags in the body of the post, especially the finer-grained tags such as tribal affiliations. (Again, there is not enough space on LiveJournal to have all possible tags; if you duplicate your tags in the body of the post, that info can't get lost if we need to purge the least-used tags).

One last caveat: do NOT use the "(delicious)" tag unless you have been instructed to do so. That tag is reserved exclusively for people doing the transition work.


Do you have a question not answered here? Drop it in the comments!

Tags: ,

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Is there a running list somewhere of POC authors?

or,

How can you tell if an author is a POC?

Just a thought that some people might be having that would be good for a FAQ.

I would be tempted to point people to http://www.letmegooglethatforyou.com in response. :p

But for a more serious answer, in addition to just googling it, Wikipedia is a good source. Type in the author's name and their bio will usually mention it. There are also categories for Asian authors, African-American authors, etc.

*hangs head in shame* I will go back & tag my mega-catch-up post sometime soon-ish (running off to work), eek!

Hahaha! I was toying with tagging that one "booklist" and being done with it. (Feel free to use that option yourself, if you want.)

BTW, it's nice to see you back. :-)

Maybe add that it's best not to wait until you have 50 (or some other large number greater than, say, ten) reviews and post them all at once? I mean, if you want any of them to be read. That's a definite tl;dr, at least for me.

Although my head is hurting from days of reading linkspammage, so I might just be a bit grumpy right now.

Do comics count? And do they count if only the writer or the artist is a POC?

Comics count, yes. And they count if only the writer is POC.

I'm talking to the other mods to see if they count if only the illustrator is POC.

What's the policy on re-reads?

Re-reads are perfectly fine.

What should we do with non-English language books? Especially ones that might not be available in translation?

Review them! Rec them! Create a pixel-trail of English-language interest for them!

More seriously, the mod team would like this comm to be less U.S.-centric, and more international in scope. So, please do feel free to rec and review books that are not yet available in English. Also, if you wish to do a bilingual (or even wholly non-English) post about a book, please do feel welcome to do so.

I can't remember whether it's been decided that web comics are acceptable here

because I'm a big fan of Alina Pete's Moosehead Stew. Alina is a Cree from Saskatchewan, and Moosehead Stew is essentially a blog in webcomic form. She addresses issues pertinent to PoC in that blog from time to time, and it's an all-around fun read. Alina also writes the gaming comic Weregeek, and she's produced two volumes of the collected Weregeek strips.

Re: I can't remember whether it's been decided that web comics are acceptable here

Sorry for the long delay in getting you an answer. Two of three mods say that webcomics are okay; the third mod is AWOL. Go for it.

So, stupid question time, would a Jewish author count as a PoC? What about an Argentinian?

There was a long discussion about Jewish authors: the summary is that some, but not all, Jews are white. For more nuance on that, definitely check out the comments. Suggestions; more suggestions.

Most countries in the Americas, much like the U.S.A, are not racially homogenous. According to Wikipedia:
86.4% of Argentina's population self-identify as European descent. An estimated 8% of the population is mestizo. A further 4% of Argentines were of Arab or East Asian heritage. In the last national census, based on self-identification, 600,000 Argentines (1.6%) declared to be Amerindians.
You'd have to know the author's racial self-identity to be able to answer whether the author qualified for the comm.

Also: the PoC in question, do they have to live in first world country?

I just posted for the first time and haven't been able to tag my entry. I keep getting this message:

Error
This would make you exceed your maximum of 1000 tags. Please remove some and try again.

Can anyone help?

Thanks. You should be able to add tags now -- let me know if you've still got problems.

Are we considering white translators as "w-a:", or should there be a "w-t:" (and a "t:") tag format as well?

Kind of related, I have a question about English translations (all by white people) of a classic Japanese book that I'd like to ask for opinions on (I don't know which one to pick). Is that an appropriate question for this community?

I think it would be helpful to update the tagging information, since it seems like the tag limit has been hit (I take it we need to include additional tags in the entries themselves now?), and a link to the Delicious account is kind of hard to find (I think it would also be helpful to link to the Delicious account in the community profile as well as the FAQ).

I've been thinking of the tagging situtation as "temporary", but "long-term transition" is probably more accurate -- and you're quite right, that does warrant being updated here. And thanks for the suggestion for additional delicious links. We're at the point where we can start asking for help with the tag-porting, so I'll do a post when I update the FAQ.

Re "additional tags" in the post body: the long-term plan is to permit a finer level of race/nationality/ethnicity/geography tags than LJ's tag limit can support. I've been sticking the info related to that finer level of tagging in my post bodies for Native American authors: it can be hard, sometimes, to re-research someone's tribal affiliation, and there's really no way to support tribal designations in LJ's tags.

Hey there, I look forward to starting this challenge :). I was just wondering if you could change the tag for 'aborigine' to 'aboriginal'? Aborigine, although technically neutral, has actually become quite a pejorative term to some Aboriginal australians due to its use historically. If it's too complicated, I can tag entries as 'indigenous australian' which I see is also there. Thanks.

1) Welcome! Always happy to have a new participant! :-)

2) Done! And thanks for the info.

Eep! I thought I was being helpful by going back and adding tags to old posts I read (as suggested here), but then I hit the posts about how you're trying to tag things on Delicious instead. If you don't want more people to mess up what you're doing, that information should really, really be here in the FAQ. New people have no way to know.

I apologize for adding to your tag woes. I would love to make up for it by doing some Delicious tags if you're still looking for volunteers to do that?

And thank you for providing and maintaining this community. I'm sure it's a lot of work.

In my head, I thought the transition would be fast enough that I wouldn't need to rewrite the tag part of the faq for the transitional period. FALSELY ROSY PROJECTIONS OF THE FUTURE.

Anyway, thank you, yes, I need to rewrite that, especially since we seem to be in a holding pattern right now with respect to tags.

And I am thrilled to have another volunteer -- let me check to see if it makes more sense to have you do some stuff now, or in the next phase. Is that okay?

About what counts as a book. I've got Classic Slave Narratives which is four autobios (actually five, but one was initially published as a postscript to one of the other four and is also about two pages long) in one book binding. It counts as four books, yes?

Your choice. Some count omnibus volumes as a single volume; others count them by the original number of volumes.

Reading the community for suggestions


Last year I joined the POC Reading Challenge, which is celebrating both authors and characters of colour. Of course, this is different than your community which is focusing only on writers.

However, it does seem an active community and a way for me to gain some good recommendations of books.

My question is if I am not going to do anywhere near 50 books in a year, would it be useful for me to share my reviews here - though obviously only those by writers of colour.

Re: Reading the community for suggestions

Please do share your reviews! Many people (some who are doing the challenge, some of whom aren't) use this comm as a source for suggestions or recommendations -- the more book reviews, the merrier.

In the community profile, we explicitly say that you don't need to participate in the challenge to participate in the community, but it seems I neglected to put that info in the FAQ...

Retroactively not "counting" an author and book

Based on the discussion in one of the "who counts?" posts, (http://community.livejournal.com/50books_poc/213467.html), I've decided to take an author and book off my list. What's the policy? Delete the entry and let you, the mods, know (for tagging, etc.)? Keep the entry but make a note that the book and author are not being counted, also informing you? I know at least one other person has counted the author poc (based on tags). My post is here: http://community.livejournal.com/50books_poc/25390.html.

Re: Retroactively not "counting" an author and book

Sorry for the delay; we were discussing!

We see the same two options you laid out: delete the entry, or add an ETA that you've decided not to count the author and why. We'll leave that to the individual poster's choice -- there are decent reasons for choosing to go either way.

If you decide to delete, tell us, so that we can delete the delicious entry. We don't *need* to know if you decide to do an ETA, but we would like to know. If you choose to edit instead of delete, add a "who's poc" tag to signal that another piece of the discussion is there on that post in the ETA.

Am I allowed to have a list at the end and just link to each book/each of my reviews on Goodreads? Or do I have to post thoughts on here?

You can post lists with links, if you please. Or even lists without links, if you please -- there is no "and then discuss" requirement.

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