2 thoughts on “A list of British BAME children’s authors

  1. Hi.
    It’s true British agents/publishers are slowly becoming aware that there are many talented non-caucasian writers in the UK. The problem is that I, as a mixed race afro caribbean man, am not represented by the term BAME. If I really want to be recognized as a picture book author/ illustrator I will have to become full black or Asian; maybe move to a desireable post code, and delete my Facebook ‘bald-coloured-guy-who-likes-to-keep-fit’ pictures so agents won’t search and profile me whenever I submit one of my 38 picture books, 4 novels, or 12 screenplays. Now you might say that I’m ‘crying over nothing and it’s my work that’s at fault.’ But I am published many times in film and novels and have won many awards worldwide but as a ghostwriter…a face they can’t see.
    When I was growing up in 70’s Liverpool I was called half-caste and me and others like me were overlooked. Now I’m ‘black’ but – it would seem – only in name. And why do I have to write about black subjects or people? I know of lots of caucasian writers who can write about any subject or race that pops into their head. Spielberg can make The Colour Purple, ET, Amistad, Jaws and anything he desires, but I would have to stick to slave, gangbangers, ghetto and anything else I’m obviously cut-out to do.
    I have had my work praised by companies that won’t take me as a client, and one agency has (out of the twenty+ books I’ve submitted) praised three of my picture books and even said each was the nearest miss anyone could get.
    Well I have news for the publishing world, a certain US president, a British Princes, and a highly celebrated Formula One driver managed to slip through, and now we – the mixed-race, afro caribbean, coloured, half-caste -authors will eventually slip through too anf rise to become the most celebrated children’s authors on the planet. Resistance is futile, as they say😊

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    1. Hi Vincent, thanks for your excellent post. I absolutely see where you’re coming from and agree. I am also mixed (half white British, half Asian) and I have had the experience of not ‘fitting in’ to either group and finding it weird/ frustrating that people could ‘see’ my Asian 50% but not my white, English 50% (I now have a child who is to all appearances white but is actually 1/4 Asian, to add to the complexity! Is he BAME? I have no idea!). I also grew up calling myself half-caste and not realising it was negative – I thought that was just what I was. To be honest, though, I think most people who could be categorised as BAME think the term BAME doesn’t represent them. I’ve heard the term critiqued at various events and conferences – some prefer POC, and I’ve also heard Afropean suggested. I use BAME for Megaphone, simply because it’s the term that’s most widely recognised in the UK, both by individuals and by funders. Just to be clear on Megaphone’s position:
      – applicants to Megaphone self-define, and people from mixed and complex mixed/multiple-minority backgrounds are just as eligible.
      – Megaphone isn’t about ‘Black/ Asian people writing stereotypically Black/Asian stories’: you can write whatever you want – the desired outcomes are around supporting diverse *writers* rather than diverse *books* (not that diverse books are a bad thing, but this project is about authorship). You can apply to write a novel with an all-white cast if you like. Your application would not be less valid as a result (after all, as you say, white writers frequently write novels with all-non white casts and are praised for doing so – why not the other way around?).
      – Megaphone is currently for people writing novel-length works of fiction for childreen/YAs but I am in the process of making a new application for funding to run Megaphone again and I will be looking into the possibility of making a picture-book focused element to the scheme. If/when it opens to applications again please do consider applying – men were under-represented in the applications we received so it would be good to hear from more.
      – Megaphone is a national scheme and anyone from any postcode (in England – due to the funding being from Arts Council England) is welcome to apply. There is funding available to cover fees and we would do our best to support anyone who is facing practical barriers to taking part.
      Ghostwriting: yes, you make an excellent point. I haven’t worked in film but I have ghost-written under a name that doesn’t reflect my ethnicity and I wonder how many non-white writers are working ‘below the radar’ in this sense.
      Anyway, I hope this helps and I wish you the very best of luck with your writing. As I say, I’m applying for more funding at the moment, and hope to be able to run a new version of the scheme. If you’d like to know when that happens, please follow the blog or the megaphone twitter account: @megaphonewrite .
      All the best, Leila Rasheed

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