Yesterday was the ALA Youth Media Awards, or the “Oscars of Children’s Literature” as they’re sometimes called. It was a big day for diversity. Diverse books and authors were honored across the board and we couldn’t be happier. Continue reading
On October 11, 2014, I attended a colloquium called Mind the Gaps, hosted by The Horn Book at Simmons College in Boston. There was an all-star line up consisting of Peter Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild), Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints), Andrew Smith (Grasshopper Jungle), and Steve Sheinkin (The Port Chicago 50), to name a few. Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, played a big part in pulling all these folks together for a day.
One of the highlights was the keynote by author/librarian Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (No Crystal Stair). Here’s a snippet from her speech:
“We are here at Simmons trying to solve this problem while one of the biggest stories in the news is that Apple released a new iPhone. Yet ALA struggles to get a one-minute spot on one network to announce the nation’s most prestigious children’s book awards. Is this our world now? To quote one of my favorite library patrons, ‘Have we dumbed down society so much that what is truly significant is not considered important?’ This conversation is significant. So how do we make it important?”
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #geeksofcolor hashtags were well represented at Comic Con this year, with three panels discussing diversity and several more panels where the subject came up. Publishers were showcasing their diverse titles among their frontlist promotions. And panels about diversity topics, even those held in large rooms at inconvenient times, were standing room only all weekend—a clear sign to me that this subject is on the minds of more and more people lately.
I missed the #WeNeedDiverse(Comic)Books panel, but you can see a recap of it here. Read on for recaps of the panels I attended:
Geeks of Color Go Pro panel
I arrived early, wanting to be able to get a good seat, and only two people were waiting in line—which made me nervous. Last year, the Geeks of Color panel was packed full. Would they repeat that this year the 8pm Thursday time slot, which admittedlywas less than ideal?
I needn’t have worried. Soon the room filled to capacity, perhaps 400-500 people, mostly people of color who were fans, interested in writing or illustrating themselves, or who had family members interested. Diana Pho, an editor at Tor, moderated the panel. Panelists were LeSean Thomas (BLACK DYNAMITE: THE ANIMATED SERIES; THE LEGEND OF KORRA; THE BOONDOCKS), Tracey J. John (MTV.com; Gameloft), Alice Meichi Li (Dark Horse), Daniel José Older (Author, HALF-RESSURECTION BLUES); and I. W. Gregorio (Author, #WeNeedDiverseBooks).
Most of the time was taken with each panelist sharing their story of how they went pro. Their answers for how they became an animator, a writer and editor, an illustrator, a video game writer, and a surgeon and writer were as diverse as the panelists themselves, showing how many paths there are to a professional creative career. For example, Boondocks and Legend of Korra animator LeSean Thomas grew up in the projects and never attended college, but instead got into comics because the materials to draw were pretty cheap, he said. He found opportunities when he showed his work to his boss at a sports store where he worked after high school, and learned as he worked his way up.
The Legend of Korra’s fourth and final season, Book 4: Balance, returns this Friday! You’ll be able to watch here. Trying to catch up with all three seasons in one day is a pretty tall order, but luckily the weekend will soon be here! The first three books (as seasons are called Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra) are available streaming on Nick.com.
Avatar: the Last Airbender follows Aang, the last airbender, who survived the Air Nomad genocide from the Fire Nation. Together with his friends Sokka, Katara and Zuko, Aang fights to prevent the Fire Nation from taking over the whole world, all the while mastering all four elements.
The Legend of Korra is the direct sequel to Avatar: the Last Airbender, taking place 80 years after the end of ALTA. Korra, upon discovering she was the avatar at the age of four, was placed under the direct care of the Order of the White Lotus and learned to water-, fire-, and earthbending. Korra sneaks away from the Order of the White Lotus compound to learn airbending from Tenzin, the son of Avatar Aang, in Republic City.
Elements: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire.
Bending: The ability to control one of the aforementioned elements, i.e. waterbending. A person who bends an element is known as a bender.
Avatar: one person who has the ability to control all four elements. The avatar is born into one of the four nations and learns to bend the four elements. The Avatar is supposed to help maintain balance between the Four Nations and the spirits.