More in white privilege in children's publishing and W.A.R
I've been meaning for ages to respond to the many comments left on the last blog entry which links to my essay on white privilege in children's publishing. And thanks to the many people who have addressed each others' comments, I think much has already been said for me. So here are a few more general musings from me on the subject.
Let’s talk books again.This is going to be overly simplistic so bear with me. Imagine a group of editors discussing what to publish next. Everyone in the room is female, white, mid 20-30s. They’re all educated. They’re all readers. All of them have only read other educated, white, female writers. Collectively they’re favorite genres are chick lit and books published in the last 20 years.
They get in a stack of manuscripts. Books by men, books by people of color, themes include sci-fi, horror and true crime.
The editors look at the works. They agree the writing is competent, but none of the editors have a real point of reference to compare the works. These aren’t anything they read, these are books they normally don’t check out in the bookstore. They don’t have any marketing numbers to suggest how well these books would sell.
And whether one says it or not, somebody is thinking, “Where’s the chick lit?”
Now imagine if the group of editors had males, people of color, readers who read sci-fi, horror and true crime. That person can share a different perspective.
We’re not going to debate if that editor could influence the group but being there and saying something brings something that wasn’t there before- a different experience.
Yes it does. And so does openly talking about issues that make people uncomfortable. Which segues nicely to the W.A.R. part of my title to this posting. School Library Journal blogger Amy Bowllan, along with Zetta Elliott, have been running a series of blog postings on the topic of War Against Racism (W.A.R.). I was flattered to be asked to contribute, and everyone is responding to the following three questions:
Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer/educator?
In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?
You can read my answers here. And read the many other contributors by going to Amy's blog and scrolling back. The questions and answers reveal how the personal and the political are intimately linked. Each person has their own experiences, their own stories to tell - and all of us have connected to and through literature as a way of combating racism in the ways that we can.
So thanks again for all who have commented on the essay. And please continue to add your voices. The more of us who speak, who confront the uncomfortable, who push the status quo - the higher the chance that the situation will shift and change. Working together, from all backgrounds, races, classes, and any other "others", we have a powerful voice.