Ellen Oh is a Middle Grade and Young Adult author. If you haven’t heard of her books, you’ve probably heard of her other work in the kidlit community. Oh is co-founder and CEO of We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit that advocates for representation of marginalized identities in children’s lit. I don’t think you can overstate the impact that WNDB has had on the world of MG and YA over the last five years. Huge.
More recently, Oh was one of three directors of Everywhere Book Fest, a virtual kidlit conference created during the pandemic. EBF was an amazing event, and Publisher’s Weekly recognized it in their “Star Watch” honor.
On Thursday, she explained in a Twitter thread why she would be declining the honor. [Long story short, PW recognized a project that was the work of three women, two of whom are women of color. Guess which one was the only one to be recognized. No, they haven’t apologized of publicly acknowledged the omission.]
Ellen Oh is declining the honor to take a stand on PW’s unacceptable actions, while allowing her co-directors to still be recognized for the achievement. This is not the first time that Oh has put her principles and focus on uplifting marginalized voices before her own career security.
If you need a dose of inspiration and reassurance that there are people in publishing being kind and selfless towards others, do yourself a favor and look through the replies and retweets of Kat Cho’s call for appreciation:
Many of these stories are lovely moments of Oh extending personal or professional kindnesses to individuals, which matter a lot. Many authors and publishing professionals are also acknowledging the work that Oh does for the industry as a whole. Ellen Oh’s name is often tied to controversies in the book world, not because her works or actions are the subject of controversy, but because she takes the brunt of the backlash after speaking out on issues.
Hooray for Ellen Oh.