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.