By Mary Haroyan
I have been a member of the Multicultural Affairs Committee (MCAC) since 2019, joining after the ACB national convention in Rochester. I am a white woman of Armenian descent and had always felt drawn toward the events that the committee had sponsored at past national conventions. Peggy Garrett, who was MCAC Chair, assisted me with the process for joining the committee. It is strange to think that my time and connection with my fellow committee members has occurred only through the virtual world.
In 2020, I along with many others listened to and participated in a number of organized forums held over Zoom through the diverse ACB community to help with understanding and talking about the racial and social justice matters brought to light. Of course, these problems were very well known to people of color, but not necessarily to those of us who are white, or at least not to the extent. I would often hear people ask for suggestions on how they could learn more about these pressing social justice and diversity concerns. I wasn’t the only person hearing these requests for deeper understanding. Cheryl Cumings, the newly appointed Chairperson of the MCAC, decided to put together a list of books that could not only inform people, but show the rich diversity of literary characters and authors. Since reading has always been a big part of my life, with books not only providing a source of great enjoyment but insight as well, I decided to join this endeavor.
Cheryl asked MCAC members to join and then reached out to the ACB Women committee and ACB’s Blind Pride International affiliate. In first thinking of titles that I had already read that might fit into our chosen diversity groups for fiction and nonfiction, I was able to offer suggestions in the African American, Latinx/Latino culture, and Native American categories. For the blindness and people with disabilities grouping, I typed in the word disability or blindness in BARD’s search field and went through many results. I read through a number of titles that if I had not been involved in this initiative, I would not have known about, let alone have perused. I would say that this introduction to a wide variety of books which I had not previously sought out and was now researching or being directed to by other committee members, has been the most important effect on me. There is now a list of nearly 140 suggested titles from the seven diversity categories which I and anyone else interested can turn to for their reading pleasure in between all the other genres we enjoy. I am very appreciative of all those who were part of this subcommittee, for their sharing of books and for their mutual commitment to thoughtful conversation.
To download the DEI book lists, visit the links below:
Book List: African American
Book List: Asian American and Pacific Islander
Book List: Blindness and People with Disabilities
Book List: LGBTQ+
Book List: Native American
Book List: Women and Feminism
Book List: Latinx/Latino Culture
You can go to the MCAC page to read all about the criteria used for choosing the fiction and non-fiction titles featured in the different list categories. Please let MCAC know your thoughts and if there are titles to be included for future updates.