Black lives matter. It seems a simple thing. An uncomplicated thing – that Black people matter. And now this country, this world, is fighting for a truth that should be self-evident and yet is not. As writers we are keenly aware that for hundreds of years Black writers have declared “our voices count, we matter.”
While the streets have become alive with the passion, chants, demands for equity, the written word has always been part of this movement. From Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Ibram X. Kendi, the core of the message has been straightforward: We matter, our lives matter, Black Lives Matter. At TWC we stand behind this. We believe this. And in every corner of our country where marginalized people are demanding equality, we support them.
It is not enough to abhor racism. It is not enough to claim diversity as a value. We have to live it. Like many other organizations, we continue to strive to live up to the values stated in our code of conduct. And for us, it means not just talking about diversity, but making it real. This means ensuring that we as an organization reflect our community. That our leadership, including our Board of Directors, staff, and workshop leaders, represent the diversity in the writing community.
We have affirmed our commitment to diversity, and have been taking, and will continue to take, concrete steps to ensure it. These include:
- Hosting the Diversity in Publishing Virtual Conference, September 19, 2020
- Featuring more Black authors at events (view videos of some of our past events)
- Continuing to invite more Black workshop instructors
- Engaging diverse student populations through our High School Writing Contest
- Highlighting the work of Black authors in The Writer’s Center Magazine
- Holding a Race Through a Literary Lens virtual symposium, as part of our ongoing TaLL series, by November 2020
- Continuing our scholarship program to ensure our workshops are available to all
- Serving as volunteer facilitator for Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County for ongoing race equity discussions
- The recent creation of a committee to deepen the diversity of the board
There is a lot of work to be done. But what has propelled generations of Black writers, and what can bring us all together as writers today, is something we always say at TWC: “Use Your Words.” Words alive on a page can bring people to an idea, can create change, and can heal. There are many ways to meet the urgency of the moment. For writers, the first steps may be simply to read, and to think, and to write.