We Need MORE Diversity In Books! (American Sign Language Vlog) | Rikki Poynter

This video is brought to
you by my Patreon pledges. Help create content
by pledging today. RIKKI:
We have no plan
for this video. AMANDA:
That’s why this
video will be fun. Because we have no plan. RIKKI:
Hello there. We’re in Winston-Salem right now. I’m at the bookstore
with my friend, Amanda. Introduce yourself. AMANDA:
What’s up? RIKKI
Who are you? AMANDA:
I’m Amanda,
that’s my sign name. Amanda McDonough. I’m a writer, actor,
and I’m deaf! RIKKI:
We wanted to go to
the bookstore today. Socialize a bit,
buy a lot… We won’t talk about that though! But! What were you thinking about
when you wanted to film this? AMANDA:
So we were walking
into this bookstore, and we were just
looking around. And, you know,
we love to read. It’s something that
connects us. And I see so many books. Beautiful books. And they’re all so diverse. But one thing I noticed
that they didn’t have, and this is at most
bookstores I go to, they don’t have books
on disability. Books written by people
with disabilities. Deaf, blind. RIKKI:
So it’s interesting
because you see bookstores- They normally lead to new
ideas, books, written words. They can lead the way to
change ways of thinking. So if bookstores aren’t ready
to include disability in their diversity, then we have a lot
more work to do. RIKKI:
Amanda just
released a book. Would’ve been cool to
see if her book was here. It isn’t. We’ve only seen one- We saw one deaf book
written about Helen Keller. We saw another by a
DeafBlind woman named Haben- BOTH:
Girma. AMANDA:
Congratulations, Haben! RIKKI: But only two- AMANDA:
Yeah, only two.
That’s it. And no ASL in the
language section. I noticed that too. I want to feel represented
in bookstores. I want deaf and other
disabled people to start writing their stories. So people understand what
life is like for disabled people. RIKKI:
Right. AMANDA:
We’re in 2019. Like I love Helen Keller- RIKKI:
Wait, I see something. Hold on one second. (BEEP) I don’t know- I just saw
this and was like, “Ahh!!” AMANDA:
That’s awesome. RIKKI:
It’s a novel. It’s called “Roll With It”. AMANDA:
It’s the same author
of “Wonder”. I want to see if
she’s disabled. The author has a son
with cerebral palsy. RIKKI:
Ohhh. That’s cool. Okay, okay, but! At the same time- It’s cool to see a novel. But I also want to see-
ah, how to spell it- Autobiographies. AMANDA:
Disabled people writing
their own stories. From our perspective. RIKKI:
We want people to learn
about disabled people. But nobody has the
books on the shelves. AMANDA:
Yeah. RIKKI:
You were here yesterday. You told them you wanted
to see more disability books. What did they say to you? AMANDA:
“Email us.” They told me I need
to email them. So I gave them my card,
my information. I mean… The only way to make
a change is education. And helping people who
don’t know realize that there’s something missing. RIKKI:
Right. AMANDA:
I’m excited to email them
and see what happens. RIKKI:
Since we’re here, I want them
to know about your own book. I mean, you be the
one to tell them! On my channel. Go, go, go! I’m sorry,
I just had coffee. AMANDA:
So I wrote a book. It was released a year ago. It’s called “Ready To Be Heard”. This is the sign name. It’s about my journey. Growing up as a
hearing child, becoming hard of
hearing, then deaf, and then accepting
my deaf identity. So, really, my whole journey. RIKKI:
And the journey with-
I’m sorry. Your journey with hearing
aids and cochlear implant. There’s a lot to teach about that. AMANDA:
Yes. Learning how to sign. Entering deaf culture
late as an adult. You know, same as you. You know a lot about that! RIKKI:
That’s why we have
such a connection. Because we have similar
stories growing up in life. AMANDA:
Of course, my story
isn’t special. So many deaf people
find the community late. Or they want to join but
they’re scared to. Because it’s new and different. So I hope my book
will encourage them. You know, come on over!
It’s not scary! If you need support,
we’re here for you. RIKKI:
Because of her, I may
want to write something. AMANDA:
I will encourage her. Come on! RIKKI:
I need your help to
set everything up. AMANDA:
I’ll help you. It’s no problem. RIKKI:
So if you have bookstores
that don’t have disability books, tell them, email them,
call them up even. AMANDA:
If you have a book you know of
that we don’t know about, those written by disabled people- RIKKI:
In the comments. AMANDA:
And you write something! I want to see it,
buy it, read it. RIKKI:
Right. Well, thank you
for being here. AMANDA:
Represent! RIKKI:
Right, right. Thank you for filming with me. AMANDA:
Of course. RIKKI:
If you want to
see her channel, I’ll have the link below. Later everyone, bye! (MUSIC)

21 thoughts on “We Need MORE Diversity In Books! (American Sign Language Vlog) | Rikki Poynter

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  2. Amazing video as always rikki! Hopefully that email goes through and they provide books written by disables people

  3. Check out local libraries, they may have older books dealing with disabilities and disabled characters.
    EDIT OH!! And surely they will have the book, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"! 🙂

  4. I used to work at one of the Indigo chain of bookstores in Vancouver, Canada, and we carried Amanda's book as well as a small section of ASL books.

  5. I was a HUGE reader growing up and I feel like if I'd had access to books about disability, about kids with disabilities of all kinds, and books written by disabled people, I might have had a better understanding of what was happening to my brain and body – and might have had an easier time coming to terms with everything a lot sooner and learning to love my disabled mind and body rather than seeing it as "Faulty" or "broken".

    Exposure in media is so so so important, and written, physical books are a part of that media that is crucial to representation.

    Thank you for this video Rikki!

  6. Agreed, I have a huge problem with the lack of diverse representation of deaf and disabled people and kids in bookstores and libraries.

    In fact the most common representation of deafness and deaf characters, I find are usually written by hearing people, and while I have no problems in general with hearing and non-disabled writers writing about deaf and disabled people and children. The problem is there isn't enough representation of deaf and disabled authors in bookstores and libraries, in spite of the fact there are plenty of deaf and disabled writers out there, and plenty of them are being published… so what gives?

    A very good book I do recommend for children and adults alike is 'El Deafo' by Cece Bell — Very funny, and actually about many things, including the importance of friendship. It's also an autobiography of the author/illustrator's childhood experiences of adjusting to her deafness.

  7. You look amazing rikki i have never read a book with a character with a disability love you rikki great vido i would love to buy your autobiography

  8. I think diversity may be a misleading word, if only because of ableistic culture and attitudes towards disabled people. When 'diversity' is mentioned 99.9% of the time it's about, Race or Sexuality.

    Disabilities never get brought into a conversation about 'diversity' and 'ableism' is seen as non existent. Maybe the conversation needs to be focussed on actually Disabilities, not Diversity. Idk. Society just doesn't seem to want to acknowledge disabilities and disabled people unless it's amazing Paralympic athletes… Or used as 'inspiration porn'

    Sorry for the rant haha, I'm currently writing my dissertation on Disabled Students and actual research is incredibly thin on the ground.

    Great video ladies! I'm not HOH or Deaf (I have CP) but your book sounds so interesting Amanda! Thanks for the upload and CC Rikki.

  9. My friend Erin and I (both disabled women) are running the first ever Disability Readathon this month to encourage people to read more books by and about disabled people! I've made several book recommendation videos on my channel, and we also have a website: https://www.disabilityreadathon.com/ I'm going to add these books you and Amanda talked about to our big spreadsheet of books with disability representation — thanks for making this video.

  10. I have a list on Goodreads of deaf authors and another one of books that have deaf characters, and I haven't found that much so far 🙁

  11. As an author, I can say that throwing down the gauntlet and saying write more about X is never going to be productive.

    One of the many problems has to do with historical data. An author can write any story they want, but if a book store's historical data does not show that particular subject matter sells well… They have limited shelf space, it's just not good business to shelf books that are not turning over fast enough. This is where independent publishing fills an important gap, a book that belongs to a niche with a smaller audience can sit on a digital shelf for years and it doesn't take away potential sales. While you may see fewer of the books you like in brick and mortar stores, you may find them on digital store shelves. Not a perfect solution, but it's what we have to work with for now.

    That said, there is also the added challenge that if a book features anything but the standard cast of characters people both praise and get out their pitchforks. Try to include more genders, sexual preferences, cultural backgrounds, or even disabilities when you are none of these things invites public ridicule, harassment, shaming and worse. It almost does not matter how well researched and knowledgeable the author is on a subject, there are always people that will discredit their work if they do not have the first-person experience. It's the whole stay in your lane, you are only allowed to write what you know, crap. This drives a lot of authors away from including people from a wider set of backgrounds and identities in their work. There is no easy fix here, this a reflection of the state of politics between groups, unfortunately.

    The easy go-to solution is to have individuals represent themselves in fiction because if the author is X, then group X tends to not rack them over the coals for what they view are inconsistencies that may be variations and not errors.

    I've included characters from as many backgrounds as I can, where possible. I leave descriptions open to reader interpretations. I still get lambasted over characters that are too much this, not enough that. That is the nature of criticism, everyone wants to see themselves in the stories they read, but do not take into account that other people want to see characters like them as well. I had a book available that was independently published featuring a deaf main character. (The little d is on purpose.) I ended up pulling it because the book drew so many negative reviews over trivial details that it was practically invisible on searches. Details like the character used a hearing aid in one ear that allowed her to understand spoken language, though she did point out that thick accents and people that mumble were impossible to understand. It was not a miracle fix for her hearing loss as reviewers senselessly argued. I know that is a problem with any hard of hearing or deaf characters which is why I specifically made a point about the hearing aid's limits, background noise reduction, etc. She could react to rumbling or really loud noises even without her hearing aids. Anyone with hearing loss can tell you that sometimes you feel the sound and can still be startled or have it draw your attention. I had review after review saying how unrealistic the character was because she didn't know how to sign, that she wasn't deaf enough, that what she could hear wasn't realistic.

    Most of the reviews were from people claiming to be hard of hearing or deaf.

    That is the gotcha. The harshes critiques are the same folks that are also wanting to be represented. That is a challenge no one knows how to overcome.

    In a lot of cases, it's not that authors don't want to write the characters, but that they just don't have the ability to weather a storm like that. One bad book (whether it's actually bad or not is subjective sometimes) can torpedo and sink a pen name Personal experience with that. I had to stop publishing under the name associated with the book above.

    A little more love for those that at least try might be in order. That's my point. If not love, at least pick up a smaller pitchfork.

  12. I doubt I’ll ever be comfortable enough to write an autobiographical work, BUT for awhile now I have been working on a novel with Deaf characters in the spotlight! And it does have parts that are based on my experiences as a Deaf person in general and as a Deaf femme in infosec, so that’s something, right? 🙂

  13. That was interesting video. Now that you mentioned this, I realized I didn't find them in local stores…. I'm a book girl too! I'm adding Amanda s book to my list!!

  14. Squirmy and Grubs are working on a book where they will interview 20-30 couples where one is disabled. Don't know when the book will be done (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyKnvx4JbNk but the video only has craptions).

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