IRSCL Statement on Racial Injustice and Plan for Accountable Action

From the IRSCL Executive Board and the IRSCL Equity and Diversity Committee

In line with the 2017 IRSCL Statement of Principles and its commitment to advocate for the inclusion of underrepresented voices, languages, and cultures, the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL) shares the collective and international grief and anger over the death of countless victims of racism and state-sanctioned violence around the world. The conjunction of long-standing economic and racial inequality, national and international histories of racism and violence, and current political tendencies in multiple regions around the world threaten the multicultural values we uphold. The IRSCL affirms its solidarity with scholars, students, writers, and all children, around the world, who are affected by racism, and expresses its support for the millions of protesters in the world who are working to change entrenched systems of inequality. Beyond words of solidarity, we also must translate our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion into concrete actions and policies.

As an organization the IRSCL commits to a plan of accountable action that includes but is not limited to the following measures:

  • Promote work by scholars of underrepresented groups while continuing to question power dynamics and privileges present in our academic field.
  • Include an IRSCL Equity and Diversity Committee Highlighted Panel at each IRSCL Congress
  • Ensure the inclusion of issues of equity and diversity in IRSCL Congress keynotes
  • Promote children’s writers and children’s literature reflecting diversity and/or addressing inequalities at the IRSCL Congress
  • Consider and address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion through the IRSCL Mentoring Program
  • Consider equity and diversity and the value of scholarship on this subject as a significant factor in determining recipients of Awards and Grants
  • Support and promote the work of the IRSCL Equity and Diversity Committee and its stated aims:
  • To recognize and respect the differences that IRSCL members bring to the organization;
  • To create an environment in which all members feel a sense of belonging and acceptance within the IRSCL, especially early career scholars, and where everyone feels safe;
  • To advocate for the inclusion of underrepresented voices, languages and cultures in IRSCL meetings and congress presentations;
  • To promote and expand the study of children’s texts from across the globe;
  • To acknowledge the existence of diverse ways of knowing, being and presenting research.

As a multicultural, multilingual, and multiethnic research society, we are resolved to stand with so many others in our scholarly community who work daily to ensure that children’s literature research and children’s literature embody our shared commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice, while giving special attention to its impact on children.

As researchers and educators, we are committed to dialogue, reflection, and public engagement. We call upon our members to use their expertise both in the classroom and in public forums to engage in discussions on inequalities and racial justice. Teaching, scholarship, and creative work can be powerful tools in the struggle against racism and the present day calls upon us to use them in this way. It has never been more important to support and expand Black and Africana studies, Postcolonial and Decolonial studies, and Indigenous studies and to teach the literatures born of struggle against racism. We affirm that the IRSCL will redouble its efforts to create a safe, equitable and just community in every place where we live, study, teach and work, beginning in our own organization and field.

Endorsed by:

Executive Board of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL)

Evelyn Arizpe (University of Glasgow, Scotland), IRSCL President

Åsa Warnqvist (Swedish Institute for Children’s Books, Sweden), IRSCL Vice-President and Treasurer

Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak (University of Wroclaw, Poland), IRSCL Board, Mentoring Coordinator

Debra Dudek (Edith Cowan University, Australia), IRSCL Board, Membership and Recording Secretary

Macarena García González (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), IRSCL Board, 2021 Congress Convenor

Sara Pankenier Weld (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA), IRSCL Board, Awards and Grants Coordinator

Lies Wesseling (University of Maastricht, the Netherlands), IRSCL Past President, Archivist

Emily Keijzer (University of Winnipeg), IRSCL Administrator

Equity and Diversity Committee of the IRSCL

Vivian Yenika-Agbaw (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Equity and Diversity Committee Chair

Laretta Henderson (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA), Equity and Diversity Committee Member

Sabeur Mdallel (Institut Supérieur des Sciences Humaines de Tunis, Tunisia), Equity and Diversity Committee Member

Xiaofei Shi (Soochow University, China), Equity and Diversity Committee Member