By Michael Bracken
This is, unfortunately, the same message presented by proponents of the opposite ideology, and it divides groups into an us and them mentality.
And this ties in neatly with something Temple and I have been discussing lately.
The mystery writing writing community, just like the writing communities of other genres, have struggled in recent years to be more inclusive of people (writers, editors, publishers, booksellers, and fans) who are not like us.
While we, as a community, clearly have a long way to go, we often overlook the realities that some of us experience. For example, the people in my non-writing social and business life are quite a homogeneous group.
Within the writing community, however, I have several friends, many acquaintances, and many professional relationships with people who are not like me. They are different ethnicities, have different sexual orientations, come from different socioeconomic classes, hold (or held) a diverse number of non-writing occupations, represent various levels of formal education, come from different geographic regions and different countries, worship differently, and so on. In short, being a writer has exposed me to far more diversity than I ever have been, or likely ever will be, exposed to in my “real” life.
Do we, as a community, still have far to go to ensure equitable opportunities for and equitable treatment of everyone? Absolutely.
And I, for one, appreciate the diversity to which I have been exposed, and I look forward to growing my circle of friends, acquaintances, and professional relationships as our community expands.
But taking a moment to appreciate how being a part of the mystery writing community has enlarged my world isn’t the end of the story. A few days ago, as I write this, I attended a presentation about “Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture,” a program specifically targeting non-profit organizations that helps them through the “cycle of change as they transform from a white dominant culture to a Race Equity Culture.”
Changing the culture within an organization, according to the program, involves three steps (I am over-simplifying the steps because the hour-plus presentation only skimmed the surface of the topic):
In the Awake stage, organizations concentrate on increasing representation by the under-represented.
In the Woke stage, organizations strive for inclusion, ensuring that everyone is included in the conversation.
In the Work stage, organizations make specific changes to processes, programs, and operations to “ensure integration of a race equity lens into the organization.”
As a community, we face different challenges than formal organizations, but within our community are several organizations that can make changes, among them booksellers, conventions, publishing companies, and writers’ groups. They can implement some version or variation of the Awake to Woke to Work process within their organizations, and the changes they make will ultimately impact our entire community.
I hope someday soon we will no longer separate ourselves into us and them, because we will all be us—readers, writers, editors, publishers, and fans, all brought together by our love of crime fiction and its many sub-genres.