June 02, 2021

Dear IWSGers - An Announcement

Dear IWSGers,

Last month, I had announced that I was a judge for the 2021 Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology contest. (See that post here.)

This month, I am announcing that I’m no longer a judge.

I had been so excited when I was asked that I neglected to inquire if any of the judges already on board were BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) authors or agents. Later, when I requested the anthology and judges info to add to my blog post, I wasn’t given images, only text, and I didn’t look up the judges’ names. It was after I saw the May 5th announcement (which has since been updated) on the IWSG website on May 10th (I was late to participate in the hop last month) when I realized all the judges were white. After I looked into it, I noticed that appeared to reflect most panels since 2016.

For that reason, on May 14th, I respectfully requested that I be replaced as a judge by an equally qualified author of color. Or even two since a couple of past panels had eight judges.

These days, a judging panel should not be composed of all white judges. It’s crucial that judging panels (as well as groups, companies, book events, etc.) be diverse and inclusive. This is something I greatly believe in.

All voices need to be heard. All faces need to be seen. 

Diversity - the inclusion and representation of people of different identities (race, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, religious belief, etc.).

Race (defined by a person's physical appearance) is not the same thing as ethnicity (cultural heritage) or nationality (where someone claims citizenship), which is how, even with people from multiple countries, a panel can still be lacking racial diversity if all the people a part of it are white.

Racial diversity isn’t the only form of diversity, though, as the definition above states. Before I submitted my request, I was aware that the panel would lose the diversity that I brought (which isn’t common knowledge), as a disabled author who is LGBTQIA+ (i.e. Asexual).

However, I felt it was more important for the panel to not represent a single race of people than for me to stay.

I am thrilled Meka James has joined the panel. She is an awesome romance author I had recommended, and I know she will be a great judge.

I've also noticed that Loni Townsend is a judge now, too, and I’m happy my suggestion for two new judges to be added was taken. Loni is very talented and is a fabulous addition to the panel.

It is my hope that the selection process will be evaluated and that the panel next year (and all years after that) will be even more diverse and inclusive.

Diversity and inclusivity go hand in hand.

Inclusive - a set of behaviors that make everyone feel welcome and ensures that everyone has equal opportunity to contribute, speak, and be heard.

For anyone who is disappointed that I am no longer judging the anthology, my sincerest apologies to you. I hope that you can understand my request for diversity and inclusivity, and my decision.

I wish all entrants (as well as the judges) the best of luck!



P.S. I’ve closed comments on this post. I appreciate you all and thank you for being my blogging family.