Here we are, at the end of 2016. For many this has been a hard year, experiencing one tragedy after the next. 2016 exposed a lot of what we intellectually knew about the United States and the culture here, but in real ways we have not necessarily seen. 2016 brought systemic oppression out from the abstract, out from the intangible, into the spotlight. And blogging almost seemed trivial to me, trying to expose books from different cultures and identity. Trying to push the board game hobby and industry to a more inclusive space. But as I am writing this, I realize the importance of the little things we do as bloggers and as people that will impact and change a larger culture and system. We are already seeing changes in the book world, particularly YA. Even with all of the issues that have happened and have been very public on social media, YA is changing. And other spaces can change similarly but will probably go through similar growing pains.
Some days, I look at what is happening and I am a total pessimist about institutional, cultural, and systemic change. But most of the time, I do have optimism that we can create a culture that is not just accepting of difference, but truly inclusive. I know we will never be perfect in this work, but I hope we can come to a place where we can take ownership of our missteps and take responsibility for the harm we cause. I have seen this in 2016 but I have also seen privilege used to focus us on the intent and not on the impact or actions and words.
To be honest, I am scared of 2017 as much as I want to be optimistic and hopeful and I am sure you all reading share similar fears. But 2017 is inevitable and it will come with all the crap it will come even if we sit here close our eyes and wish it will not come. So, I pledge to continue to stand up for inclusion, to continue to work towards a more socially just country and world. And I hope you all do the same. This work (even just with book blogging) can be tiresome and there can be a lot of burnout. BUT it can be very life-giving and we read and share experiences from all identities. For all the tragedies and injustices that will indeed happen in 2017, I hope we can hang on to the positive things about our differences and identities, the things that make us strong and proud to be ourselves.
With that I want to talk a little bit about my end of the year posts in terms of inclusion, diversity and social justice:
Top 25 Board Games
I really enjoy all the games in my top 25 (part 1 / part 2). I have noticed that most of the games I included on my list were designed by White men – a lot of European White men. A couple of those games were designed by API men, but other than that… This is why I started this blog on board gaming and social justice. I am in the process of constructing a ‘challenge’ or a system to help me seek out, play, and highlight games designed by women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and differently abled. And to seek out and highlight games that have diverse representation in their artwork and theme.
Now this challenge is not to say diversity is a fad. This is simply to push me and keep me accountable to seek these designers out and talk genuinely about the game designs and the designers themselves. You are more than welcome to join me on this challenge and I am in the process of working some collaborations to make this happen. Like with any initial inception, this year may be rocky, but I am committed (just like with books) to diversify by experiences. Along with this challenge, I plan to do something else with board games, but I am still figuring it out. I will include more details about my challenges and goals in my 2017 goals post.
Top 10 Books Read
I was pretty happy when I looked back at all the books I read. And when constructing my top 10, I was overwhelmed with the amount of fantastic books I could have selected from. For me (the same with board games), there are fantastic authors out there with fantastic stories (a lot of #OwnVoices) and it’s about finding them, reading them, talking about them, and just reveling in the experience of the book. I want to continue this trend of reading diverse books because I know there are stories I am missing from my reading history. I know I have not read a lot of books with trans MCs or disabled MCs. I know I am severely lacking with diverse characters from the LGBQ+ community, specifically ace, aro, bi, pan, and demi characters. AND I hope to be more intentional with finding books that represent the intersections of marginalized identities.
Goals for Next Year
I will be posting on January 2, 2017 more in details about my goals for my blog, reading, and gaming for 2017, specifically when it comes to this blog. I want to continue to network across social media, but also start meeting people in person. I know this means I need to get out and get to conventions or meet ups, which in truth is a bit difficult for me. I also want to change some of my posts and bring in new ideas about what to write about, particularly when it comes to board games. I will probably start doing more board game reviews and continue with my board game series, but I also want to start something new. I have ideas but I will also love to hear what ideas you have!
Thank you again for reading and chatting this year. Here’s to a great 2017 in books and board gaming!