By Cllr Saima Ashraf, Chair of the Pen to Print Advisory Panel.
As chair of the Pen to Print Advisory Board it has been an honour to contribute to the work of the programme. BAME and LGBTQ+ writers, and writers from working-class backgrounds, have long been underrepresented in the publishing industry. This is why back in 2014 Pen to Print was established. We wanted to support the residents in Barking and Dagenham to address imbalance by nurturing our local writing talent.
Since 2014 Pen to Print has created a supporting network of local writers from all walks of life who are making their mark in the wider publishing world. Through Write On! Extra, the volunteer team has done a superb job attracting a mix of established bestselling authors and emerging local writers here in the UK and from around the world to reflect on the unprecedented times we now live in.
During lockdown we have shared our experiences and discovered how other communities across the world have also been responding to the pandemic. In more recent weeks the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis highlighted the injustices that sadly, still occur in both the USA and in the UK for black people.
This week therefore, Write On! Extra has been celebrating writers from BAME backgrounds, highlighting the barriers they still face but are overcoming. Standing together, we can fight
This is why it is important to acknowledge the contribution made by people from BAME backgrounds. Writers and artists are in a particularly special position to record and reflect the times in which we now live, so it is important that we celebrate their contributions, thanking them for the recording the history of this time. If we can stand together and share our experiences honestly; we can help others to understand the reality and make a change and make sure discrimination and such injustices are a thing of the past.
The writers and artists we celebrate this week are shaping the future for the coming generations – and we will continue to support them to do so!
Writers and artists are in a particularly special position to record and reflect the times in which we now live...