MultiCultural RoundUp & Some Events

Hi everyone,

today’s post is a series of quick announcements and exciting happenings!

o First, allow me to thank journalist, author and educator Amy Bowllan for the interview gave, and for interviewing me for the Writers Against Racism series. If you are an author or illustrator, please consider contacting her to be featured in W.A.R. over at her blog hosted by the School Library Journal. The procedure and details are explained in Amy’s interview. Unfortunately and in this century, discrimination still does exist, and children are often the most hurt by it. Do you believe books make a difference? Let us hear your voice.

o I’m sure you’re all familiar with it, but I discovered that gem only this week: TEEN WRITERS BLOC, a fantastic multicultural blog, run by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012. You’ll love the theme, the tone and the writing. I hope that you take the time to read about the background of the bloggers. What a diversity! This week’s posts include an interview of Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (8th Grade Super Zero, 2010) and Crystal Allen (How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy<) Just to name a few, and I had the funnest time reading their review of the movie I AM NUMBER FOUR! I know from a good source that you won’t wanna miss tomorrow’s post.

o You’re going to ask me which planet I came from: I said and will say it again, “Good books don’t have an expiration date!” I know, I know. I’m not a publisher, and publishers are under economic restraints and obligations that my hunger and desire not to see older books die can’t necessarily, fully satisfy. *grin* That said, if there’s a book you grew up with, wish you could read your children, but are having a hard time finding, check the following website, called Buy Old Children’s Books. Thanks to illustrator Hazel Mitchell for bringing this up to my attention.

o Black History Month is close to an end. Don’t forget to visit The Brown Bookshelf to celebrate the featured writers and illustrators. TBB provided us this year with a wonderful assortment of picture books authors/illustrators, poets, comic books author and publishers. I didn’t grow up exposed books with the variety of characters that are now rising, but all that is changing now. I’m really glad for today’s generation. *Happy dance*

Now the multicultural events. Just sharing the few that came to my attention this week:

1- As usual I highly recommend checking Paper Tigers Event Page, which compiles multicultural gatherings from around the world.

2- If you live in the Big Apple, don’t miss the New York City Teen Author Festival on March 14 which, among many other prestigious names, features award winning author Kekla Magoon. The line-up is simply amazing.

3- It’s time to nominate your favorite book in the NERDS HEART YA tournament for under represented YA Literature. Here are a few details, from their website:

When can I nominate books?
Nominations are open from 14th February 2011 to midnight GMT on 7th March 2011.

What are the criteria ?
To qualify for Nerds Heart YA 2011 a book must:
Have been published between Jan 1st 2010 and Dec 31st 2010
Contain significant characters that fit into at least one of the seven categories of under represented groups that the Nerds Heart YA organisers have identified, or have been written by an author who comes from within one of these groups of people
Be young adult fiction
Be a book that you feel has been under represented by book blog coverage

How do I nominate books?
Follow the link through to the nomination form and fill it out. You will need to fill out a separate form for each book nominated.

Read the complete guideline here.

Do you know of an event taking place in the following weeks? Let me know and I will update this page. Thanks in advance. 🙂

Monday Interview: Award Winning Journalist, Author, Blogger & Educator Amy Bowllan

Hi everyone,

I’m deeply grateful to Amy Bowllan for granting an interview to Multiculturalism Rocks! You certainly know her from her activist work, as well as her amazing blog on the School Library Journal called Bowllan’s Blog. For the past two years she’s hosted a series called Writers Against Racism (W.A.R.), initiated by author Zetta Elliott, PhD, and George E. Stanley (R.I.P.).

Here’s a short biography:
“Two-time Emmy Award recipient and mother of two, Amy Bodden Bowllan, is a true humanitarian whose imprint on our society will indirectly leave its mark for generations. Understanding that knowledge is power, Amy plays an active role in building libraries for low-income families. As well, she and her family are avid walkers in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundations’s Race for the Cure. Amy began her career as a Television Investigative Producer and Reporter for WCBS-TV NY and KNXV in Phoenix, AZ. Memorable achievements include a risk-taking venture into the mind of a pedophile, resulting in a helpful list of Do’s and Don’ts for parents to safeguard their children. Currently holding the position of Director of Diversity, Amy teaches Broadcast Journalism and Technology classes at The Hewitt School in NYC, and is accredited for integrating technological resources into staff and students day-to-day programs. Amy has been a teacher (grades K-12) for 12-years and has also hosted “Internet in Action” for PBS. Visit Bowllan’s Blog at SLJ.com, where she spotlights amazing people doing amazing things, and watch for her articles as Guest Writer for the School Library Journal Magazine, beginning September, 2008.

Amy is the recipient of:
– Several Associate Press Awards,
– An Emmy Award for exposing abortion scandal,
– An Emmy Award for going undercover into the ten worst schools in NYC.
She is also the author of the children’s ebook: The Land of Crayons.
Note: thanks to Ziana Bethune for this profile.

The three questions asked during a W.A.R. interview are:
1- Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
2- Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer/educator?
3- In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?

Click here to read her answers to these crucial questions:
http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/bowllansblog/2009/09/10/writers-against-racism-amy-bodden-bowllan/

Multiculturalism Rocks!: What type of feedback have you received from W.A.R.? (Anything from publishers? I’m curious…)

Amy Bowllan: Well, I have received an enormous amount of feedback from authors, educators, parents and young people, from all over the world.  Everyone’s voices are heard and Bowllan’s Blog is simply one platform, as there are many others out there, spreading the message that diversifying our reading lists is of paramount importance in this day and age.

As far as publishers, the smaller, independent ones have been very supportive of our efforts. However, I have not heard much from the big publishers, and have sent several e-mails asking them why there are so few authors of color in their catalogs.

As a writer and educator–Director of Diversity and teacher of broadcast journalism and technology at The Hewitt School in NYC, what are some of the changes you hope to witness in the future?

My hope for the future lies in our young people. I want them to walk into their classrooms knowing that their teachers are providing them with a full menu of literary works from across the globe, and from people of ALL ethnic backgrounds. This will help to ensure a global interconnectedness that will bridge cultural gaps, and get people talking about the lives of everyday people. When we learn about others we reach an understanding of others in ways beyond our wildest dreams. Bigotry, racism, and judging, washes away.

“I hope teachers realize their power and the importance of kindness and fairness as well as firmness. How one mixes the magic potion of the creative process, heritage, ethnicity, place and time, and language, makes the magic of words and writing.” (Virginia Hamilton)

How can we help? (Readers, writers, bloggers…)

There are many ways to help


For one, readers should definitely watch the Harlem Book Fair C-Span segment that aired two weeks ago – where panelists discussed the problem of creating greater racial diversity in the production of children’s literature. A point that Zetta Elliott made in that program is the essence of what needs to be done when she said, “It is really important that parents and librarians and educators and anyone who is a book lover become more of an advocate.”

Writers should join the W.A.R. movement, so that the conversation is ongoing, and their books are profiled. (Note from Multiculturalism Rocks: Contact Amy Bowllan with
– the answers to the following questions

1- Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
2- Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer/educator?
3- In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?
– a picture
– and a 3-sentence biography;
It’s as simple as that, and you will make a big difference).

Right now, I am asking readers to send in a jpeg image catching someone reading an Author of Color’s book.  This puts a face to the book they are reading, and hopefully this will push librarians and teachers to include them in their collections.

There are many bloggers out there who are pioneering this important cause. Please visit my blogroll for all W.A.R. contributors’ blogs.

Last but not least, what fiction and non-fiction books dealing with racism would you recommend?

These are just a few, and of course

A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT by Zetta Elliott. My review for it is on my blog.
MEXICAN WHITE BOY by Matt De La Pena
BAMBOO PEOPLE by Mitali Perkins
SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: THE SAMMY LEE STORY by Paula Yoo; Illustrated by Dom Lee

Thank you, Amy, for your time and for sharing your experience! 🙂

To keep in touch with Amy Bowllan:
o Bowllan’s Blog
o Facebook
o Twitter

Read all about the origins of W.A.R. here:
http://nilkibenitez.blogspot.com/2010/06/war-in-literature-writers-against.html