I find myself in the unenviable position of being totally on the defensive. It concerns me that anyone can think BEA does not care about diversity. I am referring to is this Tweet from @RebeccaSchinsky: Seriously, what the fuck are the Reed Expo people doing? How do you just continue to not notice all-white programming? Her Tweet is a response to today’s announcement of the Children’s Author Breakfast that will bring Nathan Lane, Oliver Jeffers, Rainbow Rowell and James Patterson together on stage.
BEA utilizes a group of program advisers who pore through the authors that are submitted for events by the participating publishers. Their task is to assemble the most compelling events while striking a balance of authors who are either new and established, celebrity and literary - race, gender, history (have they appeared before), genre, publisher are all weighed - there truly are a myriad of factors considered in assembling the best and most compelling lineup. It is indeed more art than science.
Singling out one author event out of what will be hundreds of events does not do justice to BEA’s body of work. BEA cares about diversity and is backing it up. We have been working with We Need Diverse Books and the Children's Book Council to specifically help BEA create programming that highlights diversity. There will be a good number of terrific high profile panels that address diversity in a substantive way. Those panels will be announced as planned along with the rest of BEA’s program in the coming weeks.
The BEA program will reflect our effort to support diversity in books. BEA is proud to invest both time and effort to make positive change. Do not to judge BEA until you see the final program. When completed and announced in the coming weeks, it will be clear that BEA does care deeply about diversity in books and is doing something about it.
I think, and I say this from a place of I've attended every BEA for the last 8 years and will be attending this year again, part of the problem is that the author breakfasts are seen as "high profile" events by a lot of people. These are events we have to pay extra to attend, that are held before the event itself each morning and include highly anticipated titles (in whichever category the breakfast is part of).ReplyDelete
For many of us attending the various sessions throughout the show is almost impossible. We're too busy having meetings, making connections and networking. Add to the fact that rarely do they get the same amount of HYPE as the Author Breakfasts, nor feature as many "prominent" names in one place at one time, the "hundreds of events" you mention don't rank the same height. Plus this is, to my knowledge, the first news of any author event for the show. First impressions stick.
And this is far from the first time you guys have been called out (BookCon-troversy: Uproar Over Lack of Diversity at BEA’s Consumer Day; SLJ 5/2/14 http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/05/shows-events/bea/bookcon-troversy-uproar-over-lack-of-diversity-at-beas-consumer-day/).
While I'm sure there is plenty of diversity for the rest of the show, that's not what you chose to promote and use to tempt us to spend more money. What was promoted was not diverse, did not mention anything about the rest of the show and did not reflect your commitment to diversity in books.
If you have a POC panelist, you'll be assailed for not featuring a gay panelist also. You feature a POC and a gay person, and they'll get upset you haven't featured someone who is trans. Even if you feature one POC, people will be upset there's not another. There is no going far enough to satisfy the social justice warriors so I wish people would stop listening to them.ReplyDelete
Way to go Anonymous! You add so much to the conversation, as per usual.Delete
There is a big difference between making an attempt and making zero attempt. Reed makes zero attempt, year after year, until someone calls them out. I guess good job shoehorning a woman in there.
Are you white, straight, able-bodied, neurotypical, American, and Christian or maybe atheist? Because you sure sound like it. Enjoy knowing you'll always be represented without even needing to satisfy "social justice warriors"!Delete
Original Anonymous's argument is illogical: no don't give in to people asking for diversity, because then they'll ask for more! OMG, what if the WHOLE PANEL were PoC?!Delete
I assure you, a white person would not lose out just because one time there was a panel that was not all-white. But it might be kind of nice for a PoC to see that, because we don't see that, unless there's some special "diversity" event. Meanwhile the business-as-usual, mainstream events: no PoC seems to be the default. What people are saying is maybe it shouldn't be the default? The United States is 22% non-white. NYC is over 50% non-white. That's plenty of people that are not represented over and over again, and it means a lot to them when they are.
Also I believe Nathan Lane is gay.
Just adding that the United States is 37.4% non-white, considering Hispanics as people of color. (2013 US Census)Delete
One reason so many think that BEA does not care about diversity: "... a good number of terrific high profile panels that address diversity" is NOT the same as the high-profile, much-hyped Children’s Author Breakfast.ReplyDelete
If you truly cared about diversity, you would include it naturally instead of having to highlight it in panels only about diversity (which is othering). In other words, you would INVITE DIVERSE AUTHORS for the Children's Author Breakfast. You couldn't even bother to get one in there?ReplyDelete
Keep breaking our hearts, and those of the kids who need to see themselves reflected in the books they read and the authors who write those books.
Until high profile events like the children's breakfast show any solid attempt at diversity (one white female on a panel of all white men isn't that), it'll be hard to convince people of any commitment to diversity. And you're being called out because your actions aren't matching your words.ReplyDelete
Please be aware that by defining diversity only by race or gender, you're presenting an incredibly narrow view of diversity, eliminating many diverse authors and readers (including the entire LGBT and disabled community) and it is not exactly helping your claim of being so open and diverse.ReplyDelete
So, hang on. Is BEA saying that it has plenty of *separate* diversity panels that it nonetheless considers to be *equal*?ReplyDelete
Hm. Separate but equal. That's a catchy phrase. If it hasn't been used before, BEA should put it on their banners.
Thank you for hosting me with Richard Peck, Cory Doctorow, and Sarah Ferguson. I loved being there and have always felt supported and celebrated by indie booksellers.ReplyDelete
I am a self-published pastor and author, with books for everyone, especially books for African-American children and youth and I come to the BEA every year and every year I feel invisible. While it is aptly noted that there is none other like BEA and it is to be applauded for its literary grace and prowess, I would like to be included and invited to participate in a forum where my voice can be heard. Thank you Steven for trying to include diversity. However, as a fellow 'doer', trying is not good enough. Please go the extra mile and make us an integral part of the best literary expo in the world. The now non existent African-American Pavilion needed revamping and I would love to help you do that.ReplyDelete
Wah wah wah. Nobody is impressed with your whining about how your feelings are hurt because someone has called you out on your racism. We'll all be impressed when you STOP BEING RACIST instead. The day you include authors of all kinds as a matter of course, rather than as a reactionary tactic and in an otherizing manner ensuring that everyone sees it as Those People Events versus Ticketed Events Featuring People BEA Actually Cares About is the day we'll actually care about what you have to say. Until then, come out and say it: you don't care about people of color. At all.ReplyDelete
If you were actually a 21st century organization instead of a 1950's organization you would never have answered condemnation of your out-of-touch elitism with more out-of-touch elitism - BUT YOU DID. #OWMREReplyDelete