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.