Publishing: A Game of Chutes and Ladders
Sometimes I think, "The only way to win is not to play."
And not at all because of querying, or rejection, or self publishing versus traditional publishing.
But because no matter high that ladder of discourse seems to go, there's always a chute waiting for you. In this case, the chute is that BookCon decided that the luminaries in YA who should sit on a panel together and be the rockstars of YA were all, without exception, (presumably) cishet, white men.
It's not that these men haven't contributed to YA literature (some, more than others). It's not that their books aren't excellent and worthy of discussion. It has nothing to do with that.
It has to do with the panel's makeup silently and effectively eliminating the voices of women and minorities of all types. The erasure of the importance of these voices, identities, and points of view.
Other people said it better than me, and there are so many individual posts on Tumblr that it's almost impossible to link them all thanks to an excessive amount of anonymous asks leaving hate and blind comments to a variety of people.
Here, at Meagan's tumblr, she's accused of throwing white men under the bus because she gave an all-female author recommendation list.
Here, more from Meagan's tumblr, with additional commentary from Courtney Summers.
And Renee Ahdieh had a good tumblr post here too.
And while we're at it, here's a great article by Ashley Strickland at CNN on diversity in YA. Just...don't read the comments. Unless you want to see what we're up against. In that case, take a deep breath and dive into the comments.
And Publisher's Weekly summed up the backlash to Bookcon's panel here.
Older posts (h/t to Kelly Jensen for sharing these links again on her tumblr):
When We Talk About Girl Problems on Stacked
and here, Kate Hart's Why I Write YA
Look. Asking for women, WOC, POC, and people with different sexual orientations and gender identities to be included in THESE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN YA PUBLISHING type panels isn't asking for the world. It's not 'diversity for the sake of diversity'. It's diversity because the world that we live in is diverse.
You might not think your community is diverse and maybe it isn't as diverse as others, but look: there are women and men. There are people of different ages. One of your neighbors has an autistic son. Your coworker adopted a daughter from China. The people who bought your old house are Jewish, or Pakistani, or from--you aren't sure, but they're different, alright? Yeah, and you know what? So what.
The world is not white, straight, and male.
If you aren't following Kelly Jensen at catagator (she's also part of Stacked and writes for BookRiot), Kaye M on Twitter, Sarah McCarry, and Courtney Summers, please do. They often have great commentary about these and other issues in publishing, especially gender and race in YA lit/publishing.