On December 6th, I began searching for upcoming book festivals in hopes of escaping to a warmer climate for a few days. For those who follow my blog, you may recall how I fell head over heels in love with Savannah, GA while on my book tour this past summer. Imagine my glee when I saw their book festival will take place in just a couple if months.
I looked at the site, http://www.savannahbookfestival.org and was immediately shocked by what I saw. As one who celebrates multiculturalism and loves learning about the traditions and views of other ethnicities, I was actually hurt by the display of all white authors; 37 authors, not one of another race. I was so taken aback, I was compelled to contact the coordinator. The following are our communications:
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 10:45
Subject: SBF Website Contact
NAME: DR D L TEAMOR
COMMENTS: It would really be nice to see at least a bit of diversity amongst the authors. Perhaps you could take that into consideration at next year’s event. I was in Savannah a few months ago for a book signing event for my latest release and became very excited by the prospect of returning just to relax and see other authors when I saw an ad for this event. I am left despondent at this point, because the representation makes it seem that there is no interest in writers of other ethnicities. This is very unfortunate in 2013. This is precisely why the south has a continued reputation of blatant racism. Inconsideration is no different than exclusion.
On Dec 9, 2013, at 8:55, Robin Gold wrote:
Dear Dr. Teamor:
We agree that there should be a more diverse representation of authors at the Festival.
I can assure you that we have invited NUMEROUS authors of a broad representation of ethnicities and have been turned down by them for various reasons.
We will continue to seek authors who would be a good fit for the Festival regardless of race or ethnicity. The 2014 Festival is an exception, but it’s not because we didn’t invite a number of authors of minority races.
Thank you for your concern, but I can assure you that we try very hard to have a balanced representation of authors and genres.
Savannah Book Festival
Thank you for your response. However, being an African American author who spends the majority of her time amongst largely diverse groups of authors around the country, I find your dilemma very hard to believe. Your search for ethnic authors could be done by simply visiting Amazon author pages. There are literally thousands of African descended, Latino, Asian and Native authors who long to be included in this kind of event.
Mitch Albom, your keynote, is a white author from DETROIT. He is always included on lists with African American and Latino authors and could easily have suggested ethnic peers. I wonder if the authors you say you’ve contacted are as turned off as I am and that’s why they’ve declined.
I certainly will not press the issue and will not contact you again, but when I see these kinds of situations, I am deeply saddened. Your web page for this event could easily be an ad for a 1940’s or 50’s event. I’m sure that I don’t stand alone amongst my counterparts.
Dr D L Teamor
Sent from my iPhone
When I read her response, I was immediately reminded of Romney’s, “Binders full of women” that were brought to him when he was governer.
More recently, I think of Saturday Night Live’s, Lorne Michaels stating that there are no African American women on the show but, “It’s not like it’s not a priority for us…It will happen, I’m sure it will happen.”
To me, all these hold as much water as a bucket with a hole in it. We live in, “the melting pot,” right? There are no shortages of men, women, children, races, nationalities, religions or sexual orientations. Anyone and everyone can be represented if there is a desire to do so. It’s time to STOP WITH THE EXCUSES. After all, an excuse is, was and will always be nothing but a dressed up lie.