Bowllan's Blog is Amy Bowllan's blog at School Library Journal. She's running a fantastic interview series, called Writers Against Racism. (Far as I can tell, there is on one easy-to-find permalink or tag for the entire series). A Blogroll of participants was posted mid-September; I'm not sure if its up to date with the interviews since then. There is also a sidebar of participants on Bowllan's Blog, but not a permalink to just the list that I can find.
From the SLJ website profile about Bowllan: "Amy Bowllan began her career as a Television Investigative Producer and Reporter for WCBS-TV NY and KNXV in Phoenix, AZ. She also snagged two Emmy awards for Broadcast Journalism and several Associated Press awards. She now is the Director of Diversity and Educational Technology at The Hewitt School in NYC and is responsible for integrating technological resources into staff and students day to day programs."
Bowllan began her series mid August 2009, with WAR: WRITERS AGAINST RACISM! by Dr. George Edward Stanley, which referenced an earlier interview of Dr. Stanley. Dr. Stanley is the author of Night Fires, a story about the Ku Klux Klan in 1920s Oklahoma. In talking about the book in that interview, Dr. Stanley said "I truly believe that we try to sanitize social history for young people, when we should be putting them right in the middle of situations such as those depicted in NIGHT FIRES and letting them feel uncomfortable."
The first formal WAR interview is with Laura Atkins, author of the essay What’s the Story? ~ Reflections on White Privilege in the Publication of Children’s Books. (Discussion of Atkins' article can be found at her blog, Tockla's World of Children's Literature).
Bowllan's series is usually interviews of the subject, asking three simple questions that demand difficult answers: Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person; Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work?; In what way can literature/art be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?. Conversation continues on in the comments to the interviews.
The interview subjects have varied greatly, including children's book illustrators, professors, young adult novelists, social activists, bloggers; men and women from a variety of backgrounds. They are people I "know" online and people I know from their books and people I don't know at all and am meeting for the first time.
Bowllan even interviewed herself!
It's easy to stay within our comfort zones; those we know. Those that think like us. Those like us. To think that's enough.To think things happen in the past, or other places, or to other people. It's harder to listen to another's truth. And to wonder how, honestly, you would answer those questions.
If you haven't been reading Writers Against Racism, now's a good time to start. Today's interview is with Uma Krishnaswami.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy