Interlude: Resources for writers on racism, diversity, & inclusion in writing and publishing

Words are powerful.

“So let’s all get a little uncomfortable.” ― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

{image from Clay Banks via Unsplash}

Greetings readers & writers,

The horrors of this past week’s news have, rightly, overshadowed any notes I had planned for this newsletter. As writers and artists, we are in a unique position: we interpret and channel the world around us through words and craft so that we can help readers, and ourselves, process difficult truths. To do that sensitively and effectively, we need to understand the many pervasive ways that racism affects our industry and our craft. We have critical work to do.

With that in mind, I wanted to take this space to point you towards some writers and industry professionals who are tackling issues of racism/anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion in this country, alongside how these issues are being approached in the world of books, writing, and publishing. There are, of course, far more individuals and organizations doing this critical work than I have highlighted here. I encourage you to share additional resources in the comments or with me directly.

Writers hold a lot of power in moments of cultural shift. Stay informed, write your truth, and support writers and institutions of color.

“You write in order to change the world ... if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” —James Baldwin


First of all…

In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.
Angela Y. Davis

What is anti-racism? Here’s an excellent primer from the National Museum of African-American History and Culture’s website if you’re not familiar with the term.

On Writing About Racial Violence

I encourage you to read this powerful essay by Tochi Onyebuchi, author of Riot Baby: I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: The Duty of the Black Writer During Times of American Unrest which vividly unspools the heartbreaking complexity of trying to write about pain in the midst of living beside and inside it:

“There was nothing beautiful or aesthetically intelligent about the destruction of his body. There isn’t a sentence in the world that can make it anything other than the abominable and heinous act it was. But the words are what to which I flee when confronted by the confusing and the hurtful and the lessening. We were both writers, this man and I. Words were how we organized the universe.”

Below you will find links to…

  • Reading Lists

  • KidLit Rally for Black Lives

  • Diversity and Inclusion Conversations and Efforts in Publishing

  • Writing Support for Black Writers

  • Understanding Inclusive Writing

  • Black-owned Bookstores

Reading Lists About Anti/Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion:

By not running from the books that pain us, we can allow them to transform us.
—Ibram X. Kendi

Reading Lists of New Titles by Black Authors

Teaching Kids about Race through Reading / Reading Lists of Books Featuring Children of Color


The Brown Bookshelf, which uplifts the voices and books of Black creators in the kidlit community, is hosting a free KidLit Rally for Black Lives featuring discussion for both kids and parents/educators from this incredible list of kidlit authors-of-color.

Diversity and Inclusion Conversations and Efforts in Publishing

[This] work necessitates honest, meaningful, and impactful conversations about who has power, who doesn’t, and why; about access and inclusion; about ensuring that our industry—one that almost certainly has white supremacist roots—doesn’t look the same moving forward. It’s not about diversity as a matter of optics—it’s about changing racist systems to forge a better, more equitable present and future. —Patrice Caldwell, Founder of People of Color in Publishing

Writing Support for Black Writers

Diversity in books is a civil rights frontier. —Jewell Parker Rhodes

Understanding Inclusive Writing

If you cannot write other without the assistance of a dedicated team of marginalized people to check your every sentence, then you should likely interrogate the writing that is about self — Brandon Taylor

And if possible, when expanding your personal library, please support indie bookstores, especially Black-Owned Bookstores, in the process (such as Frugal Bookstore in Boston, featured in this photo)!

Bookstores are doing their part to support the protests, let’s support them.

{image from Toa Heftiba via Unsplash}

Read, write, listen, and share. This is hard, impossible, but vital work. Please continue to share any projects, fundraisers, marketing efforts, and further resources so that we can signal boost.


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Allison has happily made books her life’s work. She spent four years marketing and publicizing academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a children’s bookseller and event coordinator. She is now living her dream: putting her B.A. in Creative Writing to good use as a novelist and as a writing/marketing coach for authors. She enjoys science fiction, cupcakes, and a hot cup of tea. 

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