The nonprofit initiative to have more children’s books reflect all identities in the literary industry says it will no longer use the #OwnVoices hashtag.
We Need Diverse Books announced Sunday that it has scrubbed mentions of the #OwnVoices hashtag from its website posts and plan to identify authors and their characters specifically by their race, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and gender.
The term #OwnVoices became an industry standard when fantasy and sci-fi young adult novelist Corinne Duyvis suggested the hashtag on Twitter in September 2015 to label kidlit work by mostly non-White authors writing about characters that share their identity. It has evolved into a mainstay in the book Twitterverse, particularly as a preferred hashtag in pitch parties such as #PitMad and #DVPit where authors query their books in 280 characters to attract literary agents. Many literary agents still ask for the term to be included in subject lines for authors who are querying their work via email.
“I’m thrilled that #ownvoices has taken on its own life in the years since then,” Corinne writes on her website. “It’s easy shorthand for a necessary concept, and the hashtag is filled with brilliant recommendations, questions, and discussions. That’s awesome. I’m happy to [sic] for the Tweets above to be the extent of my involvement, as the hashtag has been doing just fine without my input; I don’t want to moderate or regulate the discussion in any way.”
We Need Diverse Books says the term was never supposed to grow into an industry marketing “catchall.”
“Using #OwnVoices in this capacity raises issues due to the vagueness of the term, which has then been used to place diverse creators in uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situations,” the organization writes. “It is important to use the language that authors want to celebrate about themselves and their characters.”