May Everyone Really Mean Everyone: an insight into the 34th IBBY International Congress
Contributed to CBC Diversity by Beth Cox
The 34th International IBBY Congress last month in Mexico was dedicated to the subject of reading as an inclusive experience, and thanks to a very generous bursary from IBBY UK (part of the legacy from hosting the congress in London in 2012) I was very lucky to be able to attend.
As someone who has been passionate about inclusion and diversity for many years, a three day congress on this very subject was a dream come true, and the conference motto ‘may everyone really mean everyone’ perfectly aligned with the ethos of Inclusive Minds, a collective founded in the UK by myself and Alexandra Strick to bring together all those passionate about the creation and availability of inclusive, diverse and accessible children’s books.
There’s no space to fit three days worth of inspirational talks into a short blog post, but I’d like to focus on the parts that really meant something to me. Either because they reinforced and expanded my way of thinking, or because they challenged me.
Diversity Stories Seem to Be Welcomed in the Science-Fiction & Fantasy Genrecbcbooks.org
Within publishing, editors who focus on the science-fiction and fantasy genres seem to be highly receptive to diversity stories and writers of color. Some recent examples include The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and Proxy by Alex London.
EMBRACING DIVERSITY WITHOUT QUALIFIERS – AN OBSERVATION
Last week, I came across an interesting article via one of my personal favorite pop culture websites Pajiba.com (their Walking Dead and Game of Thrones coverage makes this self-affirmed geek very happy – what can I say?) - an article that initially enraged me. And then stuck with me and made me think.
The article in question called out a recent, somewhat controversial interview with author Matthew Klickstein, creator of a new book called SLIMED! An Oral History on Nickelodeon’s Golden Age, on the site Flavorwire. In the interview, Klickstein discussed the network’s “diversity problem” and, in specific examples, pointed to current Nickelodeon shows (such as the popular Sanjay and Craig) where he criticized instances of showcasing diversity for the sake of diversity, casting lead roles in animated shows where there was no reason for said characters to be ethnically diverse.
There are plenty of hot-button points Klickstein makes in his interview specifically on topics in the ongoing diversity dialogue that I won’t get into here, but what stuck with me long after reading was a point Klickstein made that resonated with me in a way I don’t think was his intention. According to Klickstein, the strength of a good character within any medium comes down in the simplest form to the writing and development, and in that way, maybe it shouldn’t matter whether said character is Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American, or any other ethnicity, if said ethnicity doesn’t impact the show’s storyline.
'PW' Panel Warns Industry, Lack of Diversity Threatens Publishingpublishersweekly.com
At a panel about the lack of diversity in the book publishing industry, hosted by PW, a number of publishing professionals warned that the overwhelmingly white makeup of the industry threatens its long-term viability.
Two of the three amazing panelists were a part of DIBs (Diversity in Books), the group of editors who helped create the CBC Diversity Committee. Alvina Ling and Stacey Barney not only talked about some of the barriers (to entry into the publishing world along with publishing more inclusive stories), but highlighted some of the amazing bright spots in publishing that need to be celebrated in this conversation. Some of these include:
Titles written by and starring people of color that have reached the bestsellers list
Outreach to schools and universities (in-person and through virtual career fairs that introduce students early to the possibility of a career in publishing)
After about an hour of moderated discussion, the conversation was opened for audience participation. One question that was asked of the panel near the end was, “To continue to move the conversation forward, but also as a means to institute more action and change, what collaborations/partnerships/programs would you like to see instituted to help promote more diversity in-house as well as get more books supported that are written by and about people from different cultures?”
Some of the panel’s answers?
More scholarship programs for publishing programs/internships to help with the financial burden of getting your start in publishing
More partnerships with media outlets to cover more diverse offerings
Finding a way to utilize celebrities to endorse reading cross-culturally
More support systems to allow individuals to be in the publishing world (like mentorship programs)
When I was ten years old, my mom and dad made me my very own art studio. Actually, the “studio” was a walk-in closet that my parents converted so that I could have a place to call my own. It was the perfect spot for expressing my creativity without interruptions. (As one of four children, finding time to myself wasn’t always easy.)
As a budding artist, I wanted to grow up to become a children’s book creator, just like my father, illustrator Jerry Pinkney. Watching Dad, I was very fortunate to see books in which black children were front-and-center. Seeing Dad’s characters showed me, me. And it established a simple truth ― black kids in books were beautiful and could be rendered abundantly.
Following in Dad’s footsteps, I spent hours in my little workspace drawing all kinds of pictures. I also read lots of books, and dreamed big. Looking back, I realize now that my junior studio was a kind of retreat where I could pore over the pages of picture books. These books and their illustrations had an impact on how I perceived myself as an African American kid.
Diversity Group Announces Walter Dean Myers Award and Grantspublishersweekly.com
We are thrilled to announce that we are launching a new award/grant initiative named after the late, great Walter Dean Myers:
The Walter Dean Myers Award, which WNDB representatives have already nicknamed The Walter, will recognize published authors from diverse backgrounds who celebrate diversity in their writing and “[allow] children to see themselves reflected back” in those works
Read more about the initiative and check out our snazzy new logo in our exclusive to PW!
A huge congratulations! We love this new initiative!
When we look at the spectrum of racial stereotypes, Asians seem to have it good: We’re supposedly smart, hard-working, and obedient. We never complain. Families stick together. We don’t rock the boat (especially the fresher off the boat that we are).
What’s the Problem?
As far as stereotypes go, we’re pretty lucky. Some would say blessed. Who wouldn’t want to be prejudged as all those positive things?
the amazing Japanese child who is dismissed as “just the typical Asian whiz kid”;
the B student who is considered an “embarrassment” to his Chinese parents;
the Korean teen who “brings shame” by getting a tattoo;
the Asian family of divorce.
The problem with all stereotypes—racial, cultural, gender, whatever—is that they interfere with your ability to be seen as you. You want to play football, but the Model Minority Stereotype (MMS) says: “Try the marching band.” You want to be a hip-hop star, but the MMS says: “Math and science.” Or maybe you need help, but are unable to reach out. The MMS says: “Asians are quiet. She’s perfectly fine.”
ALSC/Candlewick Press "Light the Way" Grantala.org
The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant was formed in honor of author Kate DiCamillo–Newbery Medalist, Geisel Honoree, and current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature–and the themes found within her books.
The award consists of a $3,000 grant to assist a library in conducting exemplary outreach to underserved populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done.
Inclusive Minds to Host Diversity Event: ‘A Place at the Table’cbcbooks.org
Inclusive Minds, a collective devoted to diversity in children’s books, will host a speed-dating style event for authors, illustrators and members of the industry to discuss ways of implementing diversity initiatives. The event, 'A Place at the Table,‘ will be held on January 28, 2015, and is supported by past and present Children’s Laureates.
The concept for ‘A Place at the Table’ was inspired by CBC Diversity’s successful speed-dating style event held in May 2014, which brought together educators, librarians, authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, and others in the industry to connect over their shared mission: “to promote and develop books that more adequately reflect the demographics and realities of the world in which we live.”
Publishing Industry Annual Salary Survey Asks About Race
John Milliot of PW wrote about PW’s annual salary survey on Friday, September 19 and put a spotlight on some not so surprising, but still not very flattering, industry numbers. Make sure you read the whole article, Publishing’s Holding Pattern: 2014 Salary Survey when you get a chance, but we especially applaud John for this little tidbit:
The dearth of minority employees directly affects the types of books that are published, industry members agreed, and for this issue to be addressed, there needs to be more advocates for books involving people of color throughout the business, including in management, editorial, and marketing executives in publishing houses, as well as among booksellers and librarians.
37% of the United States is nonwhite but only 11.3% identify as nonwhite in the publishing industry. How can we change the books we create if we don’t change the make-up of the industry to reflect society?
Check out some of the other interesting pieces we thought were best served in graph form including, by publishing department, male employee vs. female employee average salary and whether or not publishing house staffers felt that the industry is properly represented.
I just took over a school library after a previous librarian’s tenure of sixteen years. I immediately hung up my “windows and mirrors” sign and set up my window-shuttered mirror beneath it. Why?
Because back in 1997 Emily Style’s concept of “windows and mirrors” shocked me out of my comfortable, unaware world. It transformed both my vision of and mission for bookshelves. Today, my windows and mirrors display both acts as a tangible reminder of my charge and also lets others know I value an inclusive library.
Before participating in a Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity (S.E.E.D) workshop, and learning about “windows and mirrors”, I took for granted that books and curriculum reflected an experience similar to my own. As a white middle-to-upper-class, heterosexual female of European descent, I saw myself mirrored everywhere. Books validated my existence.
It had never occurred to me that my Native American Hispanic colleague could have reached the same age without that bond of connection with a book. I had never thought about how books and curriculum didn’t mirror her. I had never realized that she read books that only offered her windows with unfamiliar views. Books had made her feel invisible.