Monday Interview: Award Winning Journalist, Author, Blogger & Educator Amy Bowllan

Hi everyone,

I’m deeply grateful to Amy Bowllan for granting an interview to Multiculturalism Rocks! You certainly know her from her activist work, as well as her amazing blog on the School Library Journal called Bowllan’s Blog. For the past two years she’s hosted a series called Writers Against Racism (W.A.R.), initiated by author Zetta Elliott, PhD, and George E. Stanley (R.I.P.).

Here’s a short biography:
“Two-time Emmy Award recipient and mother of two, Amy Bodden Bowllan, is a true humanitarian whose imprint on our society will indirectly leave its mark for generations. Understanding that knowledge is power, Amy plays an active role in building libraries for low-income families. As well, she and her family are avid walkers in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundations’s Race for the Cure. Amy began her career as a Television Investigative Producer and Reporter for WCBS-TV NY and KNXV in Phoenix, AZ. Memorable achievements include a risk-taking venture into the mind of a pedophile, resulting in a helpful list of Do’s and Don’ts for parents to safeguard their children. Currently holding the position of Director of Diversity, Amy teaches Broadcast Journalism and Technology classes at The Hewitt School in NYC, and is accredited for integrating technological resources into staff and students day-to-day programs. Amy has been a teacher (grades K-12) for 12-years and has also hosted “Internet in Action” for PBS. Visit Bowllan’s Blog at SLJ.com, where she spotlights amazing people doing amazing things, and watch for her articles as Guest Writer for the School Library Journal Magazine, beginning September, 2008.

Amy is the recipient of:
- Several Associate Press Awards,
- An Emmy Award for exposing abortion scandal,
- An Emmy Award for going undercover into the ten worst schools in NYC.
She is also the author of the children’s ebook: The Land of Crayons.
Note: thanks to Ziana Bethune for this profile.

The three questions asked during a W.A.R. interview are:
1- Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
2- Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer/educator?
3- In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?

Click here to read her answers to these crucial questions:
http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/bowllansblog/2009/09/10/writers-against-racism-amy-bodden-bowllan/

Multiculturalism Rocks!: What type of feedback have you received from W.A.R.? (Anything from publishers? I’m curious…)

Amy Bowllan: Well, I have received an enormous amount of feedback from authors, educators, parents and young people, from all over the world.  Everyone’s voices are heard and Bowllan’s Blog is simply one platform, as there are many others out there, spreading the message that diversifying our reading lists is of paramount importance in this day and age.

As far as publishers, the smaller, independent ones have been very supportive of our efforts. However, I have not heard much from the big publishers, and have sent several e-mails asking them why there are so few authors of color in their catalogs.

As a writer and educator–Director of Diversity and teacher of broadcast journalism and technology at The Hewitt School in NYC, what are some of the changes you hope to witness in the future?

My hope for the future lies in our young people. I want them to walk into their classrooms knowing that their teachers are providing them with a full menu of literary works from across the globe, and from people of ALL ethnic backgrounds. This will help to ensure a global interconnectedness that will bridge cultural gaps, and get people talking about the lives of everyday people. When we learn about others we reach an understanding of others in ways beyond our wildest dreams. Bigotry, racism, and judging, washes away.

“I hope teachers realize their power and the importance of kindness and fairness as well as firmness. How one mixes the magic potion of the creative process, heritage, ethnicity, place and time, and language, makes the magic of words and writing.” (Virginia Hamilton)

How can we help? (Readers, writers, bloggers…)

There are many ways to help…

For one, readers should definitely watch the Harlem Book Fair C-Span segment that aired two weeks ago – where panelists discussed the problem of creating greater racial diversity in the production of children’s literature. A point that Zetta Elliott made in that program is the essence of what needs to be done when she said, “It is really important that parents and librarians and educators and anyone who is a book lover become more of an advocate.”

Writers should join the W.A.R. movement, so that the conversation is ongoing, and their books are profiled. (Note from Multiculturalism Rocks: Contact Amy Bowllan with
- the answers to the following questions

1- Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
2- Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer/educator?
3- In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?
- a picture
- and a 3-sentence biography;
It’s as simple as that, and you will make a big difference).

Right now, I am asking readers to send in a jpeg image catching someone reading an Author of Color’s book.  This puts a face to the book they are reading, and hopefully this will push librarians and teachers to include them in their collections.

There are many bloggers out there who are pioneering this important cause. Please visit my blogroll for all W.A.R. contributors’ blogs.

Last but not least, what fiction and non-fiction books dealing with racism would you recommend?

These are just a few, and of course…
A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT by Zetta Elliott. My review for it is on my blog.
MEXICAN WHITE BOY by Matt De La Pena
BAMBOO PEOPLE by Mitali Perkins
SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: THE SAMMY LEE STORY by Paula Yoo; Illustrated by Dom Lee

Thank you, Amy, for your time and for sharing your experience! :)

To keep in touch with Amy Bowllan:
o Bowllan’s Blog
o Facebook
o Twitter

Read all about the origins of W.A.R. here:
http://nilkibenitez.blogspot.com/2010/06/war-in-literature-writers-against.html

About Nathalie Mvondo

Nathalie Mvondo lives in Northern California and studies anthropology and nutrition. She is a Christian and children's story writer. Nathalie Mvondo vit dans le nord de la Californie, aux Etats-Unis, et fait des études d'anthropologie et de nutrition. En tant qu'écrivain, elle se spécialise en litérature chrétienne et pour enfants de tous âges.
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8 Responses to Monday Interview: Award Winning Journalist, Author, Blogger & Educator Amy Bowllan

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Monday Interview: Award Winning Journalist, Author, Blogger & Educator Amy Bowllan « Multiculturalism Rocks! -- Topsy.com

  2. Linda Covella says:

    Thanks Nathalie and Amy for this interview. I wasn’t aware of all the amazing things Amy’s done, and is doing!

  3. Amy Bowllan says:

    Thank you for this profile. It means a great deal that we are ALL in this together and for the long haul. Onward…

  4. Pingback: round UP « Fledgling

  5. Nathalie,
    I enjoyed reading your interview on WAR (Writers against Racism). We all need to keep up the fight.

    JoAnne

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