Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bowllan's Blog: Writers Against Racism. Thank You, Amy Bowllan!

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


MissA said...

I'm so glad Amy Bowllan is doing the W.A.R. series. It's been very interesting and informative. I highly encourage everyone to check it out!

Susan Thomsen said...

This is an excellent series.

Amy Bowllan said...

Thanks, Liz, Miss Attitude, and Susan! It's been a rewarding experience, and it certainly has been a group effort. Zetta, Edi, Mayra, Doret, and many others have been sending me the names of people to profile. Reading about their lives makes for such a connection...I feel blessed to be a part of W.A.R. Again, many thanks for sharing this provocative series with your readers.

Liz B said...

It's a great series. I love blogs, and what they offer, like this series. As I read the interviews, I discover new things about people, ask myself more questions, find things I have in common with people. I love it as a blog series, but I also feel like it could be turned into something more, that will reach more people. Not sure what or how.

George Edward Stanley said...

Thank you, too, Liz, for posting this information about W.A.R. on your blog. Amy is a very, very special person. I think these stories are making a difference. I hope public school reading lists will soon be changed dramatically - so that they at last reflect the makeup of this nation's classrooms.

George Edward Stanley

Richard Crasta said...

Thanks for this post. My books "Impressing the Whites" and "The Killing of an Author" focus on the subject of racism, the latter on racism in publishing, and are available at
I have also written about it at

Richard Crasta

Anonymous said...

I don't like the colour of your font, I won't read it.