We wish to respond to concerns expressed about the breakout session entitled “From Beyoncé to Erica Garner to Starr Carter: Using The Hate U Give to Address Emotional Labor in Black Women’s Lives,” at the 2018 ALAN Workshop and thank everyone who has spoken out about the situation. In short, we are sorry for the harm this caused to our community and appreciative of the people of color who generously took up the work of educating those who erred. We apologize for the breakdown in the vetting process, as well as failure to cancel the session after it was presented at NCTE, and we hope to learn and make concrete changes moving forward. Again, we wish to thank those who were present in the session who offered critical feedback during and following the session.
An ad hoc Equity and Inclusion committee has been meeting over the past year to write a diversity statement and to construct a concrete plan of action to meet goals stated in the diversity statement. On November 18, 2018, the ALAN Board of Directors passed a resolution to create a permanent Chair of Equity and Inclusion to serve for a term of three years and an Equity and Inclusion Committee of six people. This group will use the brainstorming of the ad hoc committee as a starting point for specific steps that will move ALAN toward greatly improved equity and inclusion.
The Equity and Inclusion Committee members and the ALAN officers have been conferring in-person online and will soon finalize a new regimen for proposing and selecting ALAN break-out sessions going forward. Currently, suggested plans for the regimen include:
- A training session on equity and inclusion for new members, possibly required in the hour before the Y2A reception.
- A mandatory online learning module and competency quiz before submission (Similar in function to the human subjects training and testing for university institutional review boards).
- A final vetting of selected proposals by representation from the E&I committee before the chosen proposals are announced.
We are reflective of the powerful words about equity, inclusion, and cultural competence that came in Bill Konigsberg’s talk about standing up against hate speech and actions against LGBTQ youth. An anonymous donor has offered to fund a new ALAN Award, the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and Inclusion through Young Adult Literature (which will be colloquially known as the Papa Bear Award).
Young adult literature has great power to make the world a better place and life better for all young people, but ALAN must wield it with thought and intention so that it helps rather than harms. Thanks for your guidance and patience.
James Blasingame, ALAN Executive Director
Mark Letcher, ALAN President