EA on the CSK

Editorial Anonymous’s post, The CSK is Dead (Long Live CSK) has generated a lively discussion about race and publishing.

Go, take a look

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7 Responses to EA on the CSK

  1. elliottzetta says:

    sigh…here we go again. But thanks for sharing.

  2. Paula says:

    The frustration is the notion that removing what was a solution to segregation will do anything to solve the deeply rooted systemic issues of publishing.

  3. Zetta says:

    I left a comment this morning and it still hasn’t been posted…maybe I ticked off the blogger by suggesting that all the folks who complain about the CSK awards being “racist” should put half that time and energy into critiquing the publishing industry itself, and the “racist” practices that result in less than 3% of all kids books being authored by black writers…

  4. Zetta, I didn’t get your comment; there must be a problem with Blogger. Please try again–everyone is welcome to comment on the blog, however much they disagree with me.

    I agree that the publishing industry needs critiquing for the failings you mention. I don’t see the point of doing that on my blog, though– better that I do it directly to the people I work with, yes? So I do.

    Giving an award based on race is racist– or I suppose you could call it reverse racism. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve been using reverse racism and reverse sexism for years, because those are the weapons we *had* to use in those fights. But I think it’s worth remembering that we’re fighting for a world in which we don’t have to use those weapons. And if the goal is to gradually let go of tactics like that, I would nominate race-based awards as among the first to go.

    I’d still like to see initiatives in place to encourage more minorities of all kinds to go into children’s books. That would be a kind of racism, too, but the kind that would speak directly to what we want to happen, and a fully justified one.

    I appreciate that the CSK has made important progress, but it’s naive to think that its only influence is in the goals stated in its description and mission statement. It (and the people who support it) are subtly sending the message to publishers that every time they publish something current-day and black without a black person involved, they’re running the risk of being told they were wrong to even try. So they don’t try.

    On a personal note, some of my closest family members are black. The children among them are so dear to me I can barely stand it– and I want the world to know that it stacks things against them. I want the world to make some allowance and reparation for that. But do I want those children to get an award for being black? No. That’s like saying the handicap is theirs, when in fact the handicap is the world’s.

  5. Paula says:

    And if the goal is to gradually let go of tactics like that, I would nominate race-based awards as among the first to go…I’d still like to see initiatives in place to encourage more minorities of all kinds to go into children’s books.

    Thanks for stopping by, EA. I’d love to dig a bit deeper into the systemic issues and possible initiatives you think could encourage more minorities into kiddie lit.

    By any chance you up for a guest blog here on the issue or an email interview revolved around it? We’d love to have you.

  6. Thanks, Paula. Let’s me think about an email interview. My email is editorialanonymous@hotmail.com.

  7. elliottzetta says:

    Oh, boy…taking a deep breath. I didn’t get the message that you had posted here at BB, EA, so there must be a gremlin somewhere. Luckily, I check BB every day!

    No one gets an award for being black. You don’t get an award just for showing up with the right amount of melanin. The CSK recognizes *excellence* among black authors and illustrators IN PART b/c the mainstream awards committees consistently FAIL to recognize it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how many Caldecott medals have gone to black authors/illustrators? I think ONE? In 70 years?!

    I’ve had this conversation SO many times with white friends and family members; I identify as black–I’m mixed-race and Canadian, so I find I run up on this sentiment fairly often (my home country fairly rings with multiculturalist rhetoric). What I told my friend when she suggested that Hallmark’s Mahogany line of cards was “racist” and “no better than segregation,” is this: if things were EQUAL, they wouldn’t *need* to be SEPARATE. But people of color didn’t create the system that upholds/promotes inequality, and it’s not reasonable to expect us to wait until the folks who DID create this unjust system start to “act right” and include us across the board. Perhaps we can agree that the CSK is a stop-gap measure that needs to remain in place until there is equity throughout the children’s publishing industry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the industry itself is incredibly homogeneous, and then it produces books that aren’t especially diverse. I’m glad you’re tackling the issue at work, but I think more transparency would be great–so PUBLIC conversations are still necessary, and can help build a movement instead of relying on individual editors of courage speaking out behind closed boardroom doors. Personally, I take issue with the awards system generally, in that winners get multiple awards and then multiple contracts for future projects, choking out the new authors and illustrators b/c publishers can “bank on” those who’ve already won a shiny sticker. There are lots of ways we can reform the system–including by rejecting it altogether, which I’ve done by self-publishing. It’s not either/or–we can all have multiple strategies and we don’t all have to agree on the agenda, either…just agreeing that a change is needed is HUGE!

    I look forward to your BB interview!

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