No More All-White Panels: A PLEDGE

 

Our industry marginalizes people of color. We know this.

In a multitude of ways, we do not include or promote their voices as we should.  This is problematic for the authors, editors, illustrators and other people of color who must work twice as hard for far less attention and reward.  But it is also problematic for the children we claim to serve, who desperately need to hear a range of voices. Our young readers are increasingly diverse.  It makes no sense that their literature not represent them.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to improve this situation.  We Need Diverse Books has had a dramatic impact, and many now recognize the need for more inclusive literature. We give lip service to this need. We talk about mirrors and windows, as well as the importance of #ownvoices. And yet, though we now see a lot of conversations about the need for diversity, in practical terms, not much has changed.

Our industry is a complicated machine, with many moving parts.  We are authors and illustrators, editors and publicists. But we are also booksellers, teachers, and librarians. We are event organizers and reviewers. This complexity can make it extremely easy to pass the buck.  “What can I do?” each of us thinks.

For several years now, I’ve sat on the programming committee for a book festival. In the past, I’ve helped coordinate conferences and reading series as well. This has given me an interesting vantage point.  I’ve gotten to see how few people of color are supported with marketing dollars.  There are always a few superstars pitched—bestsellers and award winners—but not many.  The publishers, who I assume must answer to their company’s bottom line, send out the authors likeliest to sell lots of books. In an economy built on systemic racism, this means they send out mostly white authors.

But festivals and conferences are exactly how new authors become bestsellers and award winners.  In addition to selling books, these events bring visibility. They draw the attention of award committees and open the door to financial opportunities like school visits and other paid events. So this marginalization becomes a cycle. Success breeds success.  Money follows money.

Today, I’m calling on my fellow authors and illustrators to make a change. To refuse to play a part in this cycle.  We can’t change everything overnight, but we can refuse to participate in the marginalization of our colleagues and friends.  We can hope that our example draws attention from conference and festival organizers, from publishers, booksellers, educators, reviewers, and others. If enough of us join together, perhaps diverse panels will become the rule, not the exception.

Of course, our industry does not only marginalize people of color. We have a great deal of work to do in supporting other underrepresented populations as well.  We must strive to include LGBTQUIA authors and illustrators, those with disabilities, women, and Native authors, among others.  Until our conferences and festivals fully represent this country’s diverse population, there will be serious work to do.  However, for the purposes of this pledge, it feels useful to focus on one specific goal. One clear mission.  Which is this:

In a world of wildly talented authors and illustrators of color, there is simply no reason for an all-white panel, ever.  If you agree with me, I hope you’ll make this pledge, by leaving a note in the comments below.

***

WE PLEDGE TO SERVE ONLY ON PANELS THAT INCLUDE VOICES OF COLOR.

Due to the ubiquity of all-white panels in the professional and academic spheres of publishing, literacy, and children’s literature, we feel it has become necessary to take a stand.  We pledge to decline service on all-white panels of three or more speakers (excluding the moderator), at any conference or festival, and to decline invitations from any conference or festival without meaningful representation overall.  We know that the voices of people of color are essential to any meaningful conversation in our field, and we do not want to contribute to their exclusion.


*this post is written in partnership with #kidlitwomen, a month-long effort to highlight the voices of women authors and illustrators, and to address the issues they face.
**this post is also made in conjunction with No More All-Male Panels

 

247 Responses to “No More All-White Panels: A PLEDGE”

  1. Kelly Barnhill Says:

    An important step. I’m in.

  2. Megan Frazer Blakemore Says:

    I am in.

  3. Kate Messner Says:

    I’m in. Thank you, Laurel. This won’t solve the problem, but it’s one thing we can all do to help raise awareness.

    I’ve been doing this quietly for a few years & have a suggestion for people for whom this is new: send an email to your publisher’s publicist & school library marketing people today, letting them know that you’ve made this promise. It will help prevent an uncomfortable situation where you’ve already been promised for an event and learn later that the proposed lineup doesn’t fit with your commitment.

  4. Brianna Zamborsky Says:

    Signed!

  5. Phil Bildner Says:

    Yes. Signed.

  6. Christopher Healy Says:

    I wholeheartedly join you in this pledge.

  7. Brian Lies Says:

    I’m in!

  8. Brendan Kiely Says:

    Absolutely agree. Thanks for writing and posting this. I’m in.

  9. Caroline Carlson Says:

    Very happy to sign.

  10. Erin Dionne Says:

    This is a no- brainer. I’m in.

  11. Tara Dairman Says:

    I pledge.

  12. Jennifer Serravallo Says:

    I’m in.

  13. Megan Says:

    I’m in—both as a person who speaks on panels and who helps organize conferences. I should note that I’m on two panels at an upcoming conference on 4/7 at CSU, one of which includes only White people.

  14. Amy Kenney Says:

    I’m not (yet) in the position to be asked to join a panel, but I am a member of an SCBWI regional team. I make this pledge both as a panel-planner, and a potential future panel member.

  15. Joanna Marple Says:

    I’m in (if ever on the panel circuit).

  16. Kara LaReau Says:

    IN.

  17. Donalyn Miller Says:

    I’m in.

  18. Abby Cooper Says:

    Signed!

  19. Melanie Crowder Says:

    Signed.

  20. Sarah Albee Says:

    Yep. IN.

  21. Emma D. Dryden Says:

    Signed!

  22. Anne Sibley O’Brien Says:

    Signed.
    Another suggestion to add to Kate’s: I find organizers often are willing but may ask for suggestions. Get to know your iPOC colleagues, particularly those who don’t yet have national profiles, and be ready with their names.

  23. Ric Beesley Says:

    Like other’s have mentioned, I’m not currently in the position to join a panel, but if/when I am asked I will not forget this pledge.

  24. Michelle Falkoff Says:

    I’m in. Thanks for doing this, Laurel.

  25. Janet Geddis Says:

    I’m in!

  26. Deborah Kovacs Says:

    I’m in.

  27. Jo Knowles Says:

    Yes. While I have often been told, “We tried” when I bring this up (when asked for conference feedback after the fact), I think we need to be proactive and say, “Let me know if you’d like help or suggestions” at the planning phase. The more organizers know this is going to be a common expectation, the more they will try in the first place. Thank you!

  28. Laura Ruby Says:

    In.

  29. Deborah Freedman Says:

    YES. SIGNED.

  30. Ellen Wittlinger Says:

    I’m in too, but I will admit one of the proposed panels I’m on for NCTE this year (which may or may not be invited) has only white women on it. We did look for a PoC to join us, but the topic was narrow and the book needed to be one pubbed this year–we failed to find anyone. I would make a stronger effort next time.

  31. Anne Marie Pace Says:

    Signed.

  32. Aaron Becker Says:

    I am in. Absolutely.

  33. Kathy Collins Says:

    Thank you!

  34. Jennifer Ziegler Says:

    Yes! Signed. Thank you, Laurel.

  35. Asia Citro Says:

    Thank you for this! Signed!

  36. Ginger Johnson Says:

    I’m in.

  37. Sarah Aronson Says:

    IN!

  38. Jo Treggiari Says:

    Signed. Thank you.

  39. Elana K. Arnold Says:

    I’m in.

  40. Tanya Konerman Says:

    I’m in.

  41. Fiona Robinson Says:

    Yes, I’m in.

  42. Lyn Miller-Lachmann Says:

    I’m not currently published as an author of children’s books, but it the opportunity arises in the future, I will honor this pledge. In the meantime, I pledge not to attend a panel that only includes white authors.

  43. Susan Hood Says:

    Count me IN.

  44. Larissa Theule Says:

    Signed.

  45. Jennifer Mann Says:

    Signed.

  46. Melissa Manlove Says:

    Signed.

  47. Gayle Pitman Says:

    I’m in!

  48. Kristin Gray Says:

    Signed.

  49. Heidi Schulz Says:

    Count me in.

  50. Shannon Hale Says:

    Yes. Thank you.

  51. Anne Broyles Says:

    Of course, I am in! Thanks for organizing, Laurel.

  52. Kate Milford Says:

    I’m in. Thank you, Laurel.

  53. Susan R Redmond-Vaught Says:

    Signed

  54. Henry Neff Says:

    Very happy to sign. Thank you.

  55. Matthew Cody Says:

    Signed!

  56. Susan Wood Says:

    Absolutely. I’m in.

  57. Judith Wolochow Says:

    I support this wholeheartedly.

  58. David Lubar Says:

    Sure.

  59. Stephen Bramucci Says:

    Signed! And stoked to see this pledge!

  60. Gwenda Bond Says:

    In!

  61. Adam Rex Says:

    Signed.

  62. Gaia Cornwall Says:

    I happily take this pledge. Thank you!

  63. Jeanne Ryan Says:

    I’m in. Thank you.

  64. Katie Slivensky Says:

    I’m in.

  65. Ariel Bernstein Says:

    Signed!

  66. Stephanie Lucianovic Says:

    I’m in.

  67. Erin Murphy Says:

    Signed!

  68. Kari Anne Holt Says:

    I’m in!

  69. Kevan Atteberry Says:

    Of course I’m in!

  70. Marcie Colleen Says:

    Absolutely! Together we can create change. Thank you!

  71. Tricia Lawrence Says:

    I’m in. Thanks, Laurel.

  72. Jonathan Auxier Says:

    signed

  73. David Bowles Says:

    I’m Mexican-American, but I’ll make an adjacent anti-colorism pledge.

  74. Harold Underdown Says:

    I’m signing! Thanks for putting this together.

  75. Cheryl Blackford Says:

    I’m in. Thank you Laurel.

  76. Elaine Vickers Says:

    Signed. Thank you.

  77. Linda Urban Says:

    In. Thank you.

  78. Stephanie Ruble Says:

    Signed. Thank you, Laurel.

  79. Janet Fox Says:

    I’m in. Thank you.

  80. Martha Brockenbrough Says:

    In.

  81. Audrey Vernick Says:

    So pledged!

  82. Leslie Bulion Says:

    I join the pledge. Thank you.

  83. Megan Dowd Lambert Says:

    Update to my pledge: there was a change in the 4/7 CSU panel and it now includes a woman of color. Glad to see progress here!

  84. Laura Atkins Says:

    Yes, I had already decided to do this and am happy to make it public. And agree that it’s key that we not only make this commitment, but learn about iPOC authors to recommend in our places. Thank you for creating this public pledge.

  85. Bev Katz Rosenbaum Says:

    Yup!

  86. Jodi Kendall Says:

    Yes! I’m in!

  87. Joanne Rocklin Says:

    Count me in!

  88. Alex Gino Says:

    YES YES YES!

    I am making a habit of asking who else is on a panel when I am first asked and if there are no POC confirmed to make it clear from the beginning that I will not participate on a white-only panel, and offer to make recommendations and connections.

  89. Jenn Reese Says:

    Signed.

  90. Lisa McMann Says:

    Count me in, please!

  91. David Huyck Says:

    I’m signing.

    As the illustrator of the above graphic, I was all-too-aware of my whiteness in drawing this image illustrating just how biased the industry (and the world) is – and in my favor! The boy on the right could very easily be a self-portrait.

    I have been asked if there will be an updated version of this graphic. I hope there will be. I’m prepared to update the numbers and change a few colors, but I think it would be far better to highlight the art and ingenuity of a person of color with a new illustration. I will work to make that a reality.

    For the number of times I’m asked to be on panels (none so far) it truly is the least I can do to publicly say that I won’t be on an all-white panel. On the other hand, I hope to continue to be a part of this fantastic community of smart, passionate writers and artists for years to come, and I plan to honor this pledge if I ever get the honor of an invitation.

  92. Melanie Florence Says:

    Count me in.

  93. Marika McCoola Says:

    I’m in!

  94. Danielle Smith Says:

    I’m in! Signed!

  95. Dawn Metcalf Says:

    Signed.

  96. Laura A Woollett Says:

    Signed

  97. Kim Turrisi Says:

    All. In.

  98. Tracy Holczer Says:

    I’m in.

  99. Kirsten Cappy Says:

    Thank you for making this happen.

  100. Debbie Duncan Says:

    Signed with enthusiasm!

  101. Sharon Levin Says:

    I absolutely sign this!! It’s something I always ask and often offer suggestions of other panelists.

    That said, I think I do have an all white panel coming up. It’s me in conversation with Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll about SPEAK the graphic novel. I do not know anything about Emily, but I know Laurie and I are white. I’m doing this in my position as an LA Times YA Book Award Committee member. We all have various duties and this is one I’ve (of course, very willingly) agreed to.

    Candace Fleming will be making award presentations (and on my other panel that is NOT all white) and Dr. Claudette McLinn will be in conversation with Jason Reynolds.

    -Sharon

  102. Jenn Reese Says:

    I’m in!

  103. Shannon Hitchcock Says:

    I’m in!

  104. J.J. Johnson Says:

    Count me in. Xx

  105. Josh Funk Says:

    signed.

  106. Jody Feldman Says:

    In. Thanks,Laurel!

  107. Pam Victorio Says:

    I’m all in!

  108. Alison Cherry Says:

    Definitely in!

  109. Mark Holtzen Says:

    Yep. I’m in.

  110. Tracy L Clark Says:

    It’s my hope that as long as we keep speaking and steppin’ in the right direction, and listening to and learning from POC and marginalized people, change will come. Thanks for doing this.

  111. Ellen Booraem Says:

    I’m in. Thanks!

  112. Karen Latc Says:

    All in for this!

  113. Henry Neff Says:

    Trying again. Signed and thank you.

  114. Chelsea M. Cameron Says:

    I am SO in. Thanks for this!

  115. Amy Losak Says:

    Signed. Thank you!

  116. Curtis Manley Says:

    Signed. Thanks!

  117. Dan Gemeinhart Says:

    Totally signed. Thank you!

  118. Lisa Schroeder Says:

    Signed with gratitude for the important work you and so many others are doing!

  119. Lola Schaefer Says:

    Not only will I refuse to participate in all-white panels, but as an organizer of events I will work diligently to provide representation to talent of all colors. Signed.

  120. Tom Birdseye Says:

    Signed. Thanks!

  121. Alison Goldberg Says:

    Signed. Thank you!

  122. John David Anderson Says:

    I’m on board. Thanks, Laurel.

  123. Laurie Halse Anderson Says:

    Happy to add my voice to this chorus. In addition to speaking on panels that reflect America, ask conference organizers what steps they are taking to make attendees of all kinds feel welcome and respected. If you present in front of a sea of white faces, talk to the organizers about it. They need some encouragement to do the right thing.

  124. Nanci Turner Steveson Says:

    This is my formal YES! Thanks.

  125. Sarah Lamstein Says:

    All right!!

  126. Jeanette Bradley Says:

    Yes!

  127. Adam Gidwitz Says:

    In. Thank you, Laurel, for your leadership!!!

  128. Joy Preble Says:

    I’m in!

  129. Mary Pleiss Says:

    Signed. Thank you, Laurel.

  130. Brooks Benjamin Says:

    Signed! Thanks so much for doing this, Laurel!

  131. Jacqueline Davies Says:

    Signed.

  132. Jarrett J. Krosoczka Says:

    100%

  133. Sara Nickerson Says:

    I’m in. Thanks!

  134. Julie Hedlund Says:

    Signed wholeheartedly!

  135. Anne Ursu Says:

    In.

  136. Tammi Sauer Says:

    Count me in!

  137. Jennifer Thermes Says:

    Signed. Thank you!

  138. Liz Goulet Dubois Says:

    Signed!

  139. Annette Simon Says:

    Yes!

  140. Hannah Barnaby Says:

    Signed!

  141. Lita Judge Says:

    I’m in.

  142. Eric Wight Says:

    Absolutely count me in.

  143. S.F. Henson Says:

    Signed!

  144. Molly Idle Says:

    Signed.

  145. Liz Garton Scanlon Says:

    Laurel — thanks for launching and formalizing this important step and discussion. Signed.

  146. Marc Tyler Nobleman Says:

    In. Thank you.

  147. Annie Cardi Says:

    In.

  148. Robin Yardi Says:

    I’m in.

  149. Sonya Sones Says:

    Of course!

  150. Kathy M Burnette Says:

    I’m in. I also pledge to make sure my book lists and author visits are inclusive.

  151. Kathy Ellen Davis Says:

    Signed.

  152. Angele McQuade Says:

    Signed! Thank you for this, Laurel.

  153. Matthew C. Winner Says:

    I’m in as well. Thank you for organizing and advocating for this, Laurel.

  154. Heather Bouwman Says:

    Sign me up. And thank you!

  155. Ali Standish Says:

    Count me in!

  156. Jen Petro-Roy Says:

    Absolutely in.

  157. Margaret Stohl Says:

    I’m in and so happy to see this!

    Thank you!

    In a similar spirit, as a gay / trans mommy I no longer appear at events that do not openly
    Include LGBT+ diversity as well.

  158. John Schu Says:

    Signed. -John Schu

  159. Gina Linko Says:

    I’m in. Thank you.

  160. Lindsay Eagar Says:

    Signed.

  161. Wendy Wahman Says:

    I’m in too.

  162. Pernille Ripp Says:

    As someone who gets to moderate panels from time to time, I’m in

  163. Kathy Manchip Says:

    If the happy day comes and I’m ever invited to speak on a panel, I am absolutely in!

  164. Shana Corey Says:

    Signed.

  165. Gina Perry Says:

    Signed. Thank you!

  166. John Coy Says:

    I’m in.

  167. Martin Segal Says:

    Signed.

  168. Michelle Schusterman Says:

    Signed.

  169. Michael Buckley Says:

    thumbs up

  170. Andrea Tsurumi Says:

    In!

  171. Natalie Dias Lorenzi Says:

    I’m in, Laurel. Thank you!

  172. Danielle Davis Says:

    Yes!!

  173. Lori Kilkelly Says:

    I’m in! I do want to note that similar to what others have mentioned, I’m part of a 3-person breakout session at an SCBWI with one of my authors and her editor, to discuss our process from submission to publication. I’m assuming this does not constitute a ‘panel discussion’and I have confirmed there are multiple POC presenting at the same conference. Just felt I should disclose this.

  174. Miriam Busch Says:

    Signed.

  175. Kathleen Glasgow Says:

    In.

  176. Adam Silvera Says:

    Thanks so much for putting this together! I’m in.

  177. Megan Hoyt Says:

    Signed.

  178. Ammi-Joan Paquette Says:

    Yes!!

  179. Wendy McLeod MacKnight Says:

    Thank you!

  180. Tasslyn Magnusson Says:

    Yes. In. signed.

  181. Mike Grosso Says:

    I’m in!

  182. Sarah Darer Littman Says:

    Count me in.

  183. Chris Tebbetts Says:

    In!

  184. Nova Ren Suma Says:

    Signed! Thank you for putting this together.

  185. Michelle Cusolito Says:

    Signed.

  186. Katie Bayerl Says:

    Signed!

  187. Aaron Starmer Says:

    I’m in. Thanks, Laurel.

  188. Anna Alter Says:

    Thank you for this, I’m in too!

  189. Rick Riordan Says:

    Signed.

  190. Matt Tavares Says:

    I’m in.

  191. Leslie Connor Says:

    Signed!

  192. Jennifer Thermes Says:

    Signed. Thank you.

  193. Elizabeth Shaw Says:

    Signed!

  194. Will Taylor Says:

    Absolutely 100% yes!

  195. Kristy Acevedo Says:

    I’m in. Thank you.

  196. Karen Rivers Says:

    I’m definitely in. Thank you for this. <3

  197. Kate Hart Says:

    Yep.

  198. Dana Alison levy Says:

    Co-signed. This shouldn’t be hard, folks.

  199. Sarah Prineas Says:

    Signed.

  200. Eric Devine Says:

    Signed! Thanks so much for doing this!

  201. Lisa Papademetriou Says:

    Signed.

  202. Ishta Mercurio Says:

    Yes. Thank you.

  203. Kristy Dempsey Says:

    Signed.

  204. Kelly Jones Says:

    Signed. Thank you, Laurel!

  205. Kathi Appelt Says:

    All in! And thanks!

  206. J. Anderson Coats Says:

    Signed.

  207. Tracy Banghart Says:

    I’m in!

  208. Nikki Loftin Says:

    A step in the right direction! My next step will be to make certain at my school visits to promote the books/author visits of the incredibly talented POC writers I know and read.

  209. Monica Clark-Robinson Says:

    Oh, I’m all in for this one! Thanks so much for taking the lead on this.

  210. William Alexander Says:

    Yes. Signed.

  211. Joy McCullough Says:

    Signed!

  212. Laurie Ann Thompson Says:

    Signing! Thank you, Laurel.

  213. Jim Hill Says:

    Absolutely.

  214. Carter Higgins Says:

    Signed.

  215. Donna Gephart Says:

    Laurel, thanks for always being on the forefront of social progress. Happy to be part of this, part of the conversation/thought process/actions of always moving toward social justice. Donna Gephart

  216. Megan Lacera Says:

    Signed. Thank you!

  217. Rebecca Behrens Says:

    Signed

  218. Kristin Mahoney Says:

    Signed.

  219. Meghan McCarthy Says:

    Signed with this caveat: I do have an autoimmune disease that can sometimes be quite serious. If I’m having a flare-up and do manage to drag myself to an event, it may be difficult to for me to take on the additional responsibility of researching and obtaining additional speakers to make the conference as a whole more diverse and/or to double check to make sure that the entire conference has a diverse representation before I attend. I hope people understand this.

  220. Lauren Castillo Says:

    Yes! Signed.

  221. jaime zollars Says:

    Thanks Laurel. I’m in.

  222. Laurie Wallmark Says:

    Signed. I’m waiting to hear back on a proposal already submitted. If accepted, I don’t know whether I can add another person.

  223. Nancy Werlin Says:

    Signed.

  224. Kit Rosewater Says:

    Signed and will absolutely uphold both as a panelist as well as an event attendee.

  225. Sarah Jane Marsh Says:

    Signed. Thank you!

  226. Lauren Eldridge Says:

    Count me in.

  227. Karen Boss Says:

    Signed.

  228. Robin Stevenson Says:

    Signed. Thanks for doing this.

  229. Emily Wayne Says:

    Signed.

  230. Elly Swartz Says:

    I’m in!

  231. Michelle Knudsen Says:

    I’m in.

  232. Iva-Marie Palmer Says:

    I’m in.

  233. Anne Nesbet Says:

    I’m in, too!

  234. Faith Conlon Says:

    Yes.

  235. Cynthia Platt Says:

    Signed.

  236. Tamara Ellis Smith Says:

    I’m in too. Thank you Laurel.

  237. Ellen Mayer Says:

    I pledge.

  238. Susanne Fairfax Says:

    About dang time. I support this 100%. Thank you Laurel!

  239. Lindsay Leslie Says:

    Agreed and signed!

  240. Henry Herz Says:

    I’m in. Been in for years. :)

  241. Lori Degman Says:

    I’m in!

  242. Julie Hedlund Says:

    I couldn’t remember if I’d signed this already. So I wanted to sign again to be sure. IN!

  243. Betsy Devany Says:

    YES! I am absolutely in. Thank you Laurel.

  244. Lisa Anchin Says:

    100%

  245. Heather Preusser Says:

    I’m in!

  246. Laurie L Young Says:

    Though I am a long way from being asked to be on a panel, this is an important point and I support it. And I will remember, if or when the day comes.

  247. Nina Crittenden Says:

    Signed. Thank you!

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