We are San Francisco’s writers conference and as such it is part of our cultural identity to embrace and elevate diverse voices. This is challenging in an industry where white privilege is heavily entrenched, but we have always embraced this challenge. It’s part of why we embrace disruptive trends like self-publishing. It’s why we work hard to have the most diverse faculty of any industry conference (which we know is still not diverse enough), why we have scholarships and volunteer opportunities to create access to underprivileged attendees, and why we are considered the friendliest writers conference anywhere.
We are always striving to do better because we know we have a long way to go. Our planning team individually make a point of connecting with our Black attendees, LGBTQ+ attendees, Latinx attendees, and other minorities during the conference to make sure they are being served in the best way possible and to discover ways we can serve them better. We’ve also had police officers who attend because they aspire to write books that create positive change. They’ve sat across the table from aspiring black authors and had the conversations America is trying to have on a national level right now. Not as a response to this crisis, but in advance of it because it’s part of our DNA to create connections that challenge our attendees and help them make their work better.
We are deeply grieved in this moment, but not surprised by it, because we have been listening to our attendees’ stories from the beginning. This is why the Writing for Change Conference exists and more special events are on the way.