There are two fantastic reports on our diversity panel at the NYPL. You can read Mahnaz Dar’s article over at School Library Journal (which includes a great photo of all of us) and Lucine Kasbarian has written a thorough summary for the We Love Children’s Books blog. Lucine is an author and advocate for greater diversity in children’s literature and she’ll be continuing the conversation next month at the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, MA. You can find details about the April 2 event featuring Lucine in dialogue with Library Journal editor Wilda Williams on ALMA’s calendar.
Archive for the ‘NYPL’ Category
Posted in activism, bookstores, children's literature, Children's Literature Salon, equity, feminism, history, libraries, middle grade novels, multicultural literature, NYPL, race & gender, racism in publishing on March 3, 2013| 2 Comments »
If you were at the NYPL yesterday for Betsy Bird’s Children’s Literature Salon then you know that we had a full house (all 80 seats were filled!) and people came ready to both listen and share their insights and experiences. Betsy is an expert moderator, which made it easy for those of us on the panel to share our thoughts on diversity in children’s literature. I met editor Connie Hsu for the first time, and learned about how her experience growing up in Alabama continues to influence her decisions as an editor. Connie’s aware of the importance of tradition but she’s also looking for what’s new, which is encouraging. I was *so* excited to finally meet Sofia Quintero, fierce author/filmmaker/activist and cancer survivor—I had to stop myself from reaching over to high-five her every time she made a brilliant point about the coded terms (“mainstream,” “cross-over”) used to conceal racialized power dynamics in publishing. Sofia works with Book Up and she told us about an experience taking a group of kids from the Bronx into the Barnes & Noble in Tribeca. “Why are there more pictures of zombies on book covers than people of color?” After the panel ended, I met Allie Jane Bruce, a children’s librarian at Bankstreet College of Education who let me know that she works with children who are just as outraged about the lack of diversity in publishing. I’m hoping to meet those young people and hear about their strategies for creating change. During the Q&A session we revisited the issue of David Levithan’s Teen Author Festival, which continues to be overwhelmingly white despite repeated complaints. So how DO we create change?
I watched Makers: Women Who Make America last week and at the end of the 3-hour documentary on the women’s movement found myself feeling rather blue. A couple of black feminists were included in the film and one Latina, but no Asian Americans and no American Indians. It was basically white middle-class women talking about white middle-class women. One scholar was asked to identify the movement’s limitations and she said that the feminist movement had failed to address the needs of working-class women, which has only increased the suffering of women and children living in poverty. White middle-class women have a long history of working with people of color to create change (abolition, the civil rights movement), but there have also been times when white women chose to throw people of color under the bus in order to preserve their own privilege. White middle-class women seem to dominate the children’s publishing industry, and so it was heartening to have several white women approach me after the panel to share their activism and/or to ask about where to start. When white women rise up, they’re a formidable force so I do hope we can stir them out of complacency and into action. We need more allies!
Speaking of allies, it was great to see Lyn Miller-Lachmann at yesterday’s event. Lyn is an award-winning YA author and core committee member of See What We See, the social justice advocacy group that generated a lot of interest during the panel. She’s got a new book, Rogue, coming out next month and I was thrilled to get a copy yesterday. Please support the writers who are fighting for change!
Posted in children's literature, Children's Literature Salon, equity, LGBTQ, libraries, minority issues in publishing, multicultural literature, NYPL, racism in publishing on March 2, 2013| 5 Comments »
This afternoon I will be on a diversity panel at the NYPL. I thought I’d post some of my slides for those of you who are unable to attend. A full report will be posted tomorrow…
The US Children’s Publishing Industry:
Is the door open or closed?
My thoroughly unscientific, simplified representation of diversity in publishing in 2013 (based on observation and anecdotal evidence):
I believe there’s a direct link between limited diversity in the publishing profession and the lack of diversity in books for young readers. Although it is important for white authors to learn how to accurately represent people of color in their work, that alone will NOT change the status quo. I’m wary of groups whose goal is to “celebrate diversity” without also promoting equity.
What IS the difference between diversity and equity? Diversity focuses on difference but equity focuses on fairness. These definitions come from the UC Berkeley website:
Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term “diversity” is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.
Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all…while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.
What would YOUR ideal children’s literature community look like?
The UK Publishing Equalities Charter offers specific actions groups can take to promote equality and diversity. Learn more at equalityinpublishing.org