Required Reading

Varian Johnson (posts)I was going to make a post today about the importance of ethnicity-based literary awards, such as the Coretta Scott King Awards. Instead, I’ve decided to post links to two articles about that very subject.

In his article, “Slippery Slopes and Proliferating Prizes” (Horn Book Magazine, May/June 2001) Marc Aronson (then editor and publisher of Cricket Books) discusses the negatives of ethnicity-based awards, stating that current ALA awards such as the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpre’ awards should honor the content of the literature, not the ethnicity of the author. Andrea Davis Pinkney, (then editorial director with Hyperion/Jump at the Sun) crafts a powerful rebuttal in “Awards that Stand on Solid Ground” (Horn Book Magazine, Oct/Sept 2001).

Being that I helped to found an initiative that highlights African-American authors, my opinion skews heavily toward Mrs. Pinkney’s assessment for the need for ethnicity-based awards. However, Marc Aronson makes some pretty powerful points as well; points that we should all keep in mind as authors, readers, and gatekeepers. I encourage you all to read both articles, and form your own opinions on the matter.

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3 Responses to Required Reading

  1. Paula says:

    Healthy discussion, me likey! While we’re at it, the following blog post talks about the issue of ethnicity and the Brown Bookshelf venture as it relates to including/excluding cultures.

    When there’s discussion, solutions tend to follow.

    http://writingya.blogspot.com/

  2. Don Tate says:

    It’s been awhile since I’d read theses articles, so thanks for bringing them to the forefront. I read them again.

    I’m not a middle-of-the-road kind of person. I’m usually on one side of an issue or the other. But with this one, I find myself walking the center line.

    Marc makes some great arguments. But so does Andrea. I’m thankful that Horn Book presented both viewpoints.

    Andrea made the point that we “don’t live in an ideal world.”

    I agree. And I didn’t write the rules. I just do my best to exist within them. Some things, I can’t change. Others, I can work to change. And I constantly seek to know the difference.

  3. marc aronson says:

    I am glad that my article, and that HB debate, are still proving useful and challenging. I spent two wonderful days with Deb Taylor earlier this month, and we revisted our old positions. Neither of has changed our views, but we are both glad we’ve had our say, and moved on. I think writing that piece freed me — I spoke what others muttered. But then I did not need to mutter anymore, and could go on to fight other battles.

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