It can happen quiet often, the feeling of being uncomfortable. Most times, people shy away from the feeling, never wanting to be in that state of mind. An understandable position to be in. However, there are some moments when it is a good thing to be uncomfortable, as that is the point of what we are dealing with.
I want to specifically talk about books that make us uncomfortable and how this affects us as a society.
A few months back a reviewed the book Dreamland Burning, and discussed how it made me uncomfortable not just as a reader in general, but as a white reader. And you know what? I fairly certain that was the point. Lately I have been seeing more and more authors and readers speaking out against the lack of diversity within the vast world of books, and it takes books like The Hate U Give and Dear Martin to give voices to those authors that are sadly under-represented within this industry.
Yes, Dreamland Burning is by a white author, however it still helps to raise issues about race that even in 2018 are a problem that not everyone is talking about. It is not necessarily my place to speak out about these things because I am not a part of an ethnic or racial minority. But what I can do is read these books that call out white privilege and help raise them up using whatever privilege I do have.
So back to my point of why reading books that make us uncomfortable is important. Books such as the three I have mentioned, by creating tension within ourselves, can inspire us to take action, to get involved in the organizations that help support the oppressed and fight against the oppressors. It challenges us to look at the world through eyes that aren’t our own.
Do books like this making me uncomfortable make me a bad person? No. They make me uncomfortable because it’s hard to see or hear about people suffering the abuse of close minded bigots. It’s hard to think of the horrors people have gone through in the past and still fear in the present.
And this isn’t just about race. Sexual assault, homo- and transphobia, sexism, islamophobia and anti-semetism. All topics that can make people uncomfortable to talk about because it can be a hard thing to talk about – especially if you are a victim of such things. It’s alright to stop reading a book that makes you uncomfortable in a triggering sort of way (believe me, I’ve stopped reading more than one book due to poorly handled or triggering subject matter). What I’m primarily trying to say is: it’s important to be aware of such topics and create conversations that can lead to solutions for the future.
Books that tackle heavy or tough topics can often lead to more open-minded ways of thinking; something that many people are still lacking. We live in a world of such division and exclusion, but we also live in a world that is capable of being loving, understanding, and accepting of those who differ from ourselves.
Let Own Voices authors have a platform for stand on. Let them know their voices are heard, valid, and just as important as the majorities. If we want a better world for ourselves and for others, we need to listen to those who are struggling to reach equality.
So here’s my final request: Find a book that challenges your privilege and see how you can take action against inequality. It doesn’t have to be something big. But at the very least, spread some knowledge and some positivity.
Completed this task already? Have some recommendations? Leave them in the comments!