by Linda Rodriguez
Sisters in Crime recently published this important document, Report for Change: The 2016 SinC Publishing Summit Report on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Mystery Community, that I was privileged to be a part of.
I have been so proud of SinC for this work that they initiated themselves without us "diversity" folks having to scream and beat our heads against the wall. And they're immediately putting it into action. See this year's SinC into Great Writing workshop at Bouchercon--all about writing authentically about a diverse world and people (details at the end of this post).
Most of my adult life, I have been one of the few outliers in predominantly white (and often also predominantly male) institutions and organizations--I was the director of a university women's center for decades. I have usually had to be the only voice for diversity at the table, reminding of other cultures and needs, often to patronizing remarks of "There's our Linda with her diversity again." As a writer who came to the mystery field through poetry and literary prose, I was and still am active in AWP, where I have chaired the Indigenous Caucus and am a member of the Latino Caucus and the Disability Caucus and where our fight for any kind of representation or access is often bitter and too often denied.
In the mystery field, although it's almost entirely white, I found the writers and their organizations welcoming and truly open and encouraging to the "Other." Publishing is, of course, another matter.
I can't tell you how delighted I was when the board of SinC came to me and said, "We want to do this study. Will you be one of the people who helps us--and helps us find others and resources about this, as well?" To my knowledge, none of the few of us "diverse" folks in SinC were beating this drum or taking them to task. And now, they're actually beginning to implement their own recommendations from the study. I'm so thrilled to see this happen.
I would hope that everyone who writes, reads, or publishes crime fiction would read The Report for Change and take its recommendations and suggested first steps to heart. At the end of the document is a list of good specific steps that we as crime fiction publishing, Sisters in Crime national, local SinC chapters, and individual writers and readers can take to make a real difference in this important regard.
Now, for that first important step that SinC is taking. If you're planning on attending Bouchercon in NOLA 9/15-18, come a day earlier (Wed., 9/14) and attend SinC Into Great Writing, "Writing Our Differences--Doing Diversity Right," where the fantastic Walter Mosley will keynote and workshops dealing with creating authentic diversity in dialogue, character, plotting, and setting will be taught by Frankie Bailey, Greg Herren, Cindy Brown, and me. At the end of the afternoon, all five of us will gather in a panel with other diverse writers for a freewheeling, wide-ranging Q&A session.
This is a great opportunity, and I'm so grateful to Sisters in Crime for offering it and for doing the work of The Report for Change, to which this workshop is a first response. So come join in! As always, SinC makes this easily affordable--and if you're a college student, there are reduced fees.