Children’s Books Nonprofit Official Resigns After Statement Against Antisemitism

The Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Chief Equity Inclusion Officer April Powers resigned on June 27 in the aftermath of a post condemning antisemitism.
June 30, 2021
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The Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Chief Equity Inclusion Officer April Powers resigned on June 27 in the aftermath of a post condemning antisemitism.

The post, which appeared on SCBWI’s Facebook page on June 10, stated in part: “In the last several years, antisemitism has been on the rise globally, and has fueled a 75% increase in hate speech and random violence against Jewish people in the last few weeks alone. Because antisemitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred, it has its own name. It is the example from which many forms of racism and violence are perpetrated. As writers, illustrators, and translators of children’s literature, we are responsible for promoting equity and humanizing people in our work-all children and all families.

“Silence is often mistaken for acceptance and results in the perpetration of more hatred and violence against different types of people. As proof, it saddens us that for the 4th time this year we are compelled to invite you to join us in not looking away and in speaking out against all forms of hate, including antisemitism.”

However, Palestinian-American writer Razan Abdin-Adnani, a former SCBWI member, took issue on social media with the fact that the statement didn’t address violence against Muslims and Palestinians. Powers responded that she didn’t see the same recent “uptick in violence against Arabs and/or Muslims in a way that it had with other groups.” Abdin-Adnani was blocked from corresponding with SCBWI’s social media accounts. Abdin-Anani has tweeted that while she didn’t “disagree with this statement in the slightest bit” and that “Our Jewish siblings have every right to live in safety and violence against them is real,” she did take issue with the statement’s “selective solidarity.” “The situation was *very* painful & othering for me & the Palestinian/Muslim community at large as we didn’t see similar sentiments extended toward us during a time when we’re suffering,” she wrote in a later tweet. “And then to have my voice dismissed and then deleted? Ouch.”




In the June 27 apology, SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver apologized “to everyone in the Palestinian community who felt unrepresented, silenced, or marginalized. SCBWI acknowledges the pain our actions have caused to our Muslim and Palestinian members and hope that we can heal from this moment.” Oliver also apologized to Abdin-Adnani over Powers blocking her, stating that Abdin-Adnani has since been unblocked. She announced that Powers will be stepping down from her position and board seats for Muslim members will be added to the Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Powers issued her own apology, stating that she had “removed anti-Palestinian and anti-Israeli posts, which in hindsight was not the right thing to do. I neglected to address the rise in Islamophobia, and deeply regret that omission. As someone who is vehemently against Islamophobia and hate speech of any kind, I understand that intention is not impact and I am so sorry.”

Abdin-Anani tweeted that she “didn’t feel unsafe & unheard because April Powers blocked me, but because she diminished the pain of my respective communities & deleted my voice multiple times. I didn’t care that she blocked me [because] at that point I already knew she was hostile to folks like me.” She also claimed to be “receiving death threats as a result of #scbwi Zionist smear campaign against me” and called for boycotting the SCBWI.




  Various Jewish and pro-Israel Twitter users criticized SCBWI over their apology.

“This year a head of diversity at Google didn’t get fired for antisemitism, but a Black Jewish head of diversity at @scbwi was forced to resign for condemning it,” pro-Israel activist Hen Mazzig tweeted. “We are in trouble, folks.” In an earlier tweet, Mazzig noted that Powers “didn’t bring up the Middle East, just solidarity to Jews living in fear. And she lost her job for it. Never Again is now.”

Actress Debra Messing demanded in a tweet that Powers “be given her job back.” “Condemning hate against Jews is NOT Islamophobic NOR Anti- Palestinian [sic]. If you think it is, you have a prejudice against Jews.”


Tablet Senior Writer Yair Rosenberg also tweeted, “The statement condemning antisemitism was put out by an American organization, and did not mention Israel at all. That some people would interpret it as an attack on Muslims or Palestinians says something unfortunate about their worldview, not the statement.”


Film critic Roxana Hadadi, on the other hand, tweeted, “Imagine if instead of ‘who felt unrepresented, silenced, or marginalized,’ this [SCBWI] statement read, ‘[W]e would like to apologize to those in the [P]alestinian community whom we unrepresented, silenced, or marginalized.’ [A]pologies that noticeably refuse active voice … kinda suspect.”

Powers wrote in a June 29 Facebook post, “The SCBWI did not fire me or ask me to resign. There are good, kind people who work and volunteer there, many of whom are from marginalized, minority, or underrepresented backgrounds (including Jewish) themselves-who have also been harassed and trolled relentlessly. While there is certainly more to this story, particularly horrific unmasked antisemitism outside of the SCBWI, I cannot comment further at this time other than to say I chose to resign because of the distraction this was causing.”

This article has been updated.

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