A Minnesota writing conference was canceled Wednesday after people complained about the lack of diversity in the line-up of writers that were going to attend.
The organizers of the Loft Literary Center’s conference, aimed at teaching people how to write young adult novels, scrapped their plans when they learned that all the speakers but one were white, reports the Star Tribune.
“We have set a goal for ourselves to be inclusive and to work toward equity, and we didn’t think the conference would live up to that mission,” Britt Udesen, executive director of the Loft, said Wednesday. “We made a mistake.”
Twenty-two authors were set to speak at the event, but only one had an ethnic background. William Alexander, winner of a National Book Award, is a Cuban-American author. Udesen said the event was canceled in part because of the lack of diversity in the line-up, but also because not enough people were going to attend.
Udesen added that they invited more than 30 people of color to speak at the conference, but none accepted the invitation.
“It’s MEA [teachers’ conference] weekend, so a lot of local writers were unavailable, or a lot of them had just recently taught with us and they thought it would be repetitive,” Udesen said.
One author criticized the children’s conference for not having enough diversity in the line up in general.
“The times I’ve been to that conference it has felt stiflingly white, definitely stiflingly older white woman, stiflingly suburban,” young adult author Shannon Gibney said. “And because of that it hasn’t been a space where, as a newer writer of color, it is really useful for me.”
A gaming conference also ran into a similar problem last year. The University of Southern California canceled its game design program because all the speakers were men.
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