How many of us judge a book by their cover?
I know I do! My real question is, how often do you see a black person on a book cover? Go ahead, think about it… I bet it’s taking a minute, huh? Furthermore, how often do you see an Asian, Native American, Middle Easterner, etc., on a book cover?
Now compare that to all of the book covers you have seen with white/Caucasian people on it…(I’ll give you a moment)
Daunting, isn’t it? Throughout my years as an avid book reader I’ve noticed the lack of diversity when it came to book covers. As a reader growing up, I ran into book covers with only white people on them. I wish I didn’t have to say it so vulgar. But it’s what it is. I would choose a book and sure enough she had blonde hair and blue eyes, and didn’t look anything like me on the cover. Even my own collection of books, I’m ashamed to say, isn’t diverse as I would like it to be. As I’ve gotten older, I have steered away from book covers with only Caucasian people on them. Don’t get me wrong, I still read books with Caucasians on them, but I actively look for books with a variety of ethnicity. If I fail in finding a book with a person of color, I try to choose a book that has a generic plain cover that doesn’t have anyone on it. Then I can make up what ethnicity they are. I try to choose books that let me decide for myself what color the character is. Which means actually opening up the book first, instead of basing it off the cover.
I recently ran across something author Tomi Adeyemi said on twitter; she had been seeing more people of color on the covers of books in the past 12 months than in her entire life. For a person like myself, who worked at a library for 9 years, I can say she’s right! I can tell you that at my library, we only had a section dedicated to black authors (black book covers.) The rest ,"caucasians", had a plethora of rows, with an Asian face here, and maybe a Middle Eastern face there. But you had to search for these book covers.
But, I will admit I have noticed the subtle change in book covers. On Amazon, some books stores, and even on Goodreads (if you don’t know what Goodreads is, then you’re not a true lover of books), I see diversity being promoted more in books.
But I still wonder, why am I just now seeing this? Why aren't there more books with people of color on them?
And then I think about it - I don’t know that many black authors off the top of my head, like I do their Caucasian counter parts. I can name 10 Caucasian authors off the top of my head, but I can only name about 3 black authors I know. I think the problem is that authors in general aren’t writing enough about other ethnicities. I also think that black authors don’t saell a lot of books outside of the black community, unless it’s erotica. So what can we do about this? How do we fix this? As a writer myself, I think more stories need to be told about people of color. In every genre. That’s the only way I see anything changing.
What do you think? Drop me a line!