It’s our anniversary! We’ve made it a year – highlighting the books and authors that are underrepresented and marginalized in publishing. During our very special birthday week, we’re bringing you posts about The Bookmark and a fantastic giveaway!
Today, I’m writing about how The Bookmark has changed us. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll share interviews, so you can get to know us a little more. On Thursday, Jess will talk about our future – personally and for the blog.
Can I just say that the blog has changed us in All The Ways?
In all seriousness, running The Bookmark has profoundly changed both of us. We’ve learned more than we could have ever imagined. Most importantly, we’ve learned about the challenges facing marginalized and underrepped communities. We weren’t very knowledgeable to start with (and we certainly don’t claim to be experts now!), but we’ve learned how to do our research, where to go to learn more, and how to navigate the learning process.
Through the blogging and twitter community, we’ve also realized how much we still have to learn. From Jess, “Through the blogging and twitter community, I’ve realized how much I still have to learn about being sensitive. I thought I was a pretty empathetic person and I try to be kind. But, I know no matter how careful I am with my words, I will always manage to say something that offends someone. Being in the community, I’m gaining a better sense of the nuances and issues that surround certain terms. And I realized that the best source for learning is from the community you’re talking or learning about.”
We’ve also learned about the incredible online community. There are tons of people dedicated to a similar goal who come out to cheerlead the stories. But we’ve also learned how divisive diversity, marginalized groups, and repping the underrepresented can be. That’s why we’re going to keep fighting the good fight.
The Bookmark has also changed the way we see our roles as allies and advocates.
Says Jess, “The blog has taught me more about being an ally than any class or lecture or scholarly book ever did. I’ll never forget reading on twitter somewhere (if you have the source, help me!) that being an ally is only good for 24 hours. No matter how hard you worked and how well you did on Monday, it expires when you go to sleep. On Tuesday you have to earn your right to be called an ally all over again. I try to remember that every morning and make the intention to do better.”
From Anisha, “I think that prior to The Bookmark, I worried that online advocacy really just focused on speaking to those who already agreed with your views – so how are you changing anything? But over the past few months, I’ve realized that even ‘good people’ – people who want to be sensitive and go about advocacy the right way – don’t know everything. And more than anything, you can help inform those people. I learn about new terms, sensitivities, and the “rules of engagement” every day by reading blogs. Advocacy comes in many forms, and writing a blog certainly matters.”
We’re trying to live up to what we’ve learned.
On a more technical level, The Bookmark has taught us the basics of blogging and podcasting. Neither of us knew how to even record a podcast prior to our launch, but we stumbled through it with trial and error – and we are finally getting the hang of it. (Even if Audacity restarts on us at least once per recording!)
Finally, on a personal note, The Bookmark has allowed the two of us to stay connected. Although we used to work in the same place (I would stalk Jessica’s cube every morning in a desperate plea for friendship), we now live a plane-ride (or very, very long car-trip) apart. The Bookmark has given us something tangible to discuss, with regular dates and deadlines. We’ve both had a very busy year – and it’s easy to see a friendship slip away if you aren’t careful. But the Bookmark has given us even more of a shared connection. And through it, we’ve grown closer.
POST AUTHOR: ANISHA
Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.