I feel like everything I type from here on out has to be prefaced with the following; this is not an endorsement of Trump, if you read it as that you stopped reading the second you read a word that wasn’t yelling about Trump being racist.

A while ago a study circulated within the lit world that stated readers are more empathetic human beings than non regular readers. This of course caused all readers to pat themselves on the back.  I guess it makes sense, if nothing else it is an endearing notion.

A couple days after the 2016 election  Jessica Yang wrote the following post citing the study. I agree with her on a few things in here…in a way,, but……books CANNOT be racist.


She talks about the study briefly, and then goes on to ask the following questions’

“What happens when the books we read are racist? Or promote internalized misogyny?”

Nothing happens when books are racist because books cannot be racist. It is completely impossible for a book to be racist. The author can be racist, the reader can be racist, the book itself cannot be racist. It is alarming the amount of times I’ve had to point that out in comment sections or forums the past few years. It blows my mind. Also, internalized misogyny is something feminists made up to console themselves when other females disagree with them even in the slightest, so books can’t really promote that. It’s not an actual thing.

“After November 8th, I wanted to bury myself in a good book and tune out the world. Instead, I let myself get sucked into reading one post-election thinkpiece after another. I couldn’t help it. Retreating into the fictional world just didn’t feel right, not when I needed to do something, fix something. I rage-read through so many thinkpieces that they all started to blur together… and one common narrative emerged.

You know the one: That rural, working class, uneducated white people drove America into a flaming ditch. But in fact, the majority of white Americans, regardless of education or income, went to Trump — cue white dudes suddenly discovering a distrust for data and demanding that we question everything.”

If the majority of the white vote went to Trump; I wonder what that says to her? Does it mean they are all racist to her? I imagine there are plenty of people who voted for Trump because they had become tired of the ‘YOU’RE RACIST AND MISOGYNIST AND HOMOPHOBIC!’ statements that had been thrown at them every time they opened their mouth to disagree with someone on the left.

That is a horrible reason to vote for a President in my mind, but it occurred.

I wonder what she learned from that? Maybe her strategies to end racism aren’t working the way she thought they would, maybe she’s promoting the racism she seems to see everywhere more than the books she doesn’t like are.It’d be cool if these people could start taking some responsibility here and maybe even come to terms with the idea that people who voted for Trump are not all racist.

It’s ironic that a narrative meant to promote empathy managed to do just the opposite. To attribute bigotry to the uneducated is to imply that the educated and well-read are immune to it. And come on, we know that’s not true. How many politicians went to Ivy Leagues? How often are problematic books written, marketed, and bought without so much as a hiccup in the publishing process?

Good, she understands the narrative didn’t work. She understands that the educated and well-read can be just as intolerant as the un-educated and non well-read. I’m assuming shes part of the educated and well-read.But I wonder if she understands that she can be racist and bigoted as well.

I feel like she’s close here. Shes saying the narrative didn’t work. Good. But instead of saying let’s change the narrative, she’s saying we now need to apply that narrative to everyone we missed last time around.

I fully support reading as an agent of change (props to #booksfighthate — check it out!), but resting on the laurels of literacy is a mistake. If we’re going to do this thing, let’s do it properly. Be critical of your reading. Push for good representation, and hold problematic books accountable. Don’t take the shortcut of writing off everyone who isn’t as well-read or educated as you.

How exactly does one properly identify a ‘problematic book’ and hold it accountable? Has she read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. It’s a classic. It’s also one of my favorites. In that book there is a group of black teenagers who form a club that’s main goal is to kill white people in their town. Is that problematic? How would you hold it accountable? What does that actually mean?

And in everything, advocate for — and listen to! — marginalized people, whether they’re readers, writers, or not involved in the reading world at all. Reading may promote empathy, but it doesn’t end there. After all, the most important story we have is real life.


No. Listen to everyone, not just the groups you identified as marginalized. It’s kinda like what she did above. Let’s listen to everyone except for the people who are not marginalized so I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and go with those not marginalized people being white middle class and above people, probably especially men. But those are the people she sees as voting for Trump. So why wouldn’t she start to listen to them to see where they are coming from and where middle ground might be?

I don’t think she’s being as inflammatory as some are about all this. I think she might even care about fixing what is wrong. But I don’t think she is quite capable of twisting her thoughts enough to realize that she may have played a role in this and her fix it plan is kind of the last plan doubled.