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Dear Writing Community,

The Southampton Writers Conference and affiliated programs including YAWP, the BookEnds fellowship, and the Children’s Literature Fellows Program, say unequivocally: Black lives matter.  

Police brutality, systemic racism, and white supremacy must be eradicated across all facets of our society, not just law enforcement. We say the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, and stand with the individuals and organizations, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for justice on their behalf. 

We understand that words without action are empty. Those of us who represent the Southampton Writers Conference and affiliated programs recognize that we are part of an academic system that has historically reinforced the oppression of BIPOC, LGTBQIA+, and neurodiverse and disabled communities. As administrators, faculty and students, many of us have benefited from a superstructure that marginalizes Black voices. This is unacceptable, and we acknowledge it. 

Those of us who benefit from white privilege pledge to continue to educate ourselves about the ways that whiteness oppresses Black people and people of color. As writers, each of us must use our voice to raise awareness about whiteness and the way it silences Black voices. Each of us must work to decolonize our classrooms, confront racism within the academy and among our peers, and continuously center the voices and scholarship of Black faculty and students. 

What we do in our private lives as protesters and agents for change is not enough. Moving forward, our actions on the ground in our workplace and with our conference attendees must actively support our commitment to justice and equity. We will do better.


Christian McLean

Director, Southampton Writers Conference


Susan Scarf Merrell

Director, Book Ends


Emma Walton Hamilton

Director, Children’s Literature Fellows Program

Executive Director, Young Artists and Writers Project