*Part of PEN’s new and ongoing initiative, The PEN Equity Project

A reading list and resource guide concerning issues of universal narratives, tokenization, appropriation, privilege and bias in the publishing industry and the organizations working to overcome these challenges. 

Must Reads

“You Will Be Tokenized”: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing by Molly McArdle

Discussed: 50 First Hand Accounts, Monoculture, House on Fire, Privilege and Networks, 125th Street

Poet Gregory Pardlo: ‘I won the Pulitzer: why am I invisible? by Angela Chen

Discussed: Increasing Visibility, Pulitzers, Revolutions

The One Thing White Writers Get Away With, But Authors of Color Don’t by Gracie Jin

Discussed: Double Standards, Staying in your Ethnic Lane, The Fair Game of Everything

Dr. Craig’s 12-Step Program for White Poets Contemplating Ethnic Fraud by Craig Santos Perez

Discussed: How-to-Guide, Appropriation with Humor

Hatred of Publishing: A Conversation Between Industry Dropouts by Jennifer Pan and Sarah McCarry

Discussed: Asian Kids at Summer Camp, Quotas and Generalizations

When White Poets Pretend to Be Asian by Hua Hsu

Discussed: Cultural Costumes, Appropriation for Opportunity, Race Defining Lit

They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist by Jenny Zhang

Discussed: Unexceptional Pain, Ethnic Names, Failures of Imagination, Asian Success and Horror

FROM THE EDITORS: The Politics of ‘Blind Submissions’ Policies by Apogee Journal Staff

Discussed: Blind Reading, Band-Aids, Alternative Practices, Politicizing Authorship

The Worst Kind Of Groundhog Day: Let’s Talk (Again) About Diversity In Publishing by Roxanne Gay

Discussed: Groundhog’s Day, White Lists, New York Times, Monochromatic Content, Table Scraps

I Gave A Speech About Race To The Publishing Industry And No One Heard Me by Mira Jacob

Discussed: Race and Profits, Mini-Disasters, Professionalism, Audiences MIA

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing by Daniel José Older

Discussed: Diversity and Likelihood, Reflected Experiences, Changes Axes, Industry-Wide Advocates

Self-Portrait Of The Artist As Ungrateful Black Writer by Saeed Jones

Discussed: Respectability Politics, Finding Frameworks, Teaching Moments, Diversity and Self-Congratulation, Seeing

Vital Resources

Asian American Writers Workshop

Established in 1991, AAWW is a national not-for-profit arts organization devoted to the creating, publishing, developing and disseminating of creative writing by Asian Americans—in other words, they’re the preeminent organization dedicated to the belief that Asian American stories deserve to be told.


CantoMundo is a national organization that cultivates a community of Latina/o poets through workshops, symposia, and public readings. Founded in 2009 by Norma E. Cantú, Celeste Mendoza, Pablo Miguel Martínez, Deborah Paredez, and Carmen Tafolla, CantoMundo hosts an annual poetry workshop for Latina/o poets that provides a space for the creation, documentation, and critical analysis of Latina/o poetry. 

Cave Canem

Cave Canem is a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.

Kimbilio Fiction

A community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering and sustaining fiction writers from the African diaspora and their stories. Projects include readings, presentations at professional conferences, social media networking, and an annual summer retreat for fiction writers who are members of the Kimbilio community.


Kundiman is dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian American literature. Kundiman offers a comprehensive spectrum of arts programming that gives writers opportunities to inscribe their own stories, transforming and enriching the American literary landscape. Kundiman sees literature not only as vehicle for cultural expression but also as an instrument for political dialogue and self-empowerment.

Letras Latinas

Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), strives to enhance the visibility, appreciation and study of Latino literature both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame—with an emphasis on programs that support newer voices, and foster a sense of fellowship among writers.

Writers of Color

A database of writers of color brought to you by  Durga Chew-Bose, Jazmine Hughes, Vijith Assar, and Buster Bylander aimed at creating more visibility for writers of color, ease their access to publications, and build a platform that is both easy for editors to use and accurately represents the writers.

VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts

VIDA’s mission as a research-driven organization is to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture.

VONA Voices

The mission of VONA is to develop emerging writers of color through programs and workshops taught by established writers of color.