Some of you may know of the reading challenge I set myself a few years ago to have read at least 100 authors of colour by the time I turned 30. I was always a little nervous that this challenge would come across as some white woman trying to do box-ticking, but the challenge itself came about when I looked through my Goodreads and realised just how many white authors I’ve read throughout my life. I don’t like to say ‘that’s to be expected’ for fear of sounding lazy, but I have to accept the facts: I am a white British person who grew up in the British countryside, in towns that were 99% white. When I went into libraries as a child, there was barely any chance I was going to pick up a book by an author of colour – especially when I was still young enough not to realise just how privileged I was to not have to look very far to find myself in stories.
Well, friends, I am now 30-years-old (and I still feel 15), and according to the list I set up for myself to keep track of my progress, I have read 84 authors of colour.
Considering I’ve been on the earth for three decades, that’s pretty abysmal, but I’m not going to feel bad about it. Why? Well, the challenge wasn’t to read 100 authors of colour by my 30th birthday and then make no further effort. More than anything else, I set myself this challenge to make myself more aware of the authors that I read so that I can make an effort to not only read white authors.
So I didn’t reach my goal, and it’s a bit disappointing, but there are so many authors on that list that I have read since I set myself the challenge and, without it, I’m not sure I would have read them when I did. So even though I didn’t reach my goal, I’m also not going to class this as a failure. Instead it’s a stepping stone towards my ultimate goal of being at a point where I’m reading just as many authors of colour as I am white authors.