I predict we will be accused of being a mob, of cancel culture, that they will use all the phrases white people use to protect and inoculate themselves and deflect from the racism that originally caused this situation.
I am on the Northeast SCBWI Equity and Inclusion Committee so this hit close to home for me. The SCBWI Minnesota branch apparently chose an illustration for their Facebook banner. The illustration depicts an Asian girl with slits for eyes.
When Sarah Park Dahlen, an Asian American studies KidLit expert, called them out for this racist image, the response was that the illustrator would edit the illustration so that the child would be “sleeping.” Needless to say, this was not an acceptable solution. The response from MN SCBWI went from bad to worse. Now, the entire MN SCBWI has resigned.
From the SCBWI main office:
SCBWI has accepted the resignations of the Regional Team (Regional Advisor, Co-Regional Advisors, and Illustrator Coordinator) of its Minnesota chapter, effective immediately. SCBWI thanks the team and truly appreciates the time, energy, and hard work they have put in as official volunteers. Volunteering for SCBWI is important and challenging work. We hope that SCBWI members, especially those in Minnesota, will join us in reorganizing the regional team in a way that will best serve all members.
The illustration has since been modified such that the eyes are now ovals.
According to a tweet by Cheryl Blackford of @Blackford Books, “The national org has now told us “we feel that further dialogue on Facebook around the contest illustration is no longer productive” Really?”
That really concerns me, particularly as someone who has spent quite a bit of time volunteering on a regional SCBWI Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
What tweets or posts am I missing? Please send me a link and I’ll update.
Here are the tweets:
SO THEN they update the banner image with a child who is not “sleeping” and does not have racist slanted eyes and allllll these people comment about how great it is. And one person comments, “Looks great! And it looked great before!
” I kid you not, she added a wink.
The MN SCBWI FB page remains a mess. When they deleted the first racist image, they also deleted our comments – fine, we know deleting an image means everything under it gets deleted. But then they also deleted all our comments under the “And it looked great before
Okay, I have to get back to work. My day job is working with future children’s librarians on how to be awesome youth advocates, which includes being anti-racist. We have amazing students (and alum!) and I’m thankful for their support and allyship in this. #StayAngry, friends.
This is really sad. So much energy spent skirting around and avoiding admitting fault. The picture was not sleeping and the organization needs to wake up. Thanks for posting @readingspark and for all the work you do. Do better #mnscbwi
I was one of the commenters whose posts were removed. I’m deeply disappointed in the actions of @mnscbwi and @scbwi The national org has now told us “we feel that further dialogue on Facebook around the contest illustration is no longer productive” Really?
p.s. Related Posts:
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.