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Ethical Representation in Writing

We all want to make our literature diverse and inclusive. But how do we ethically write about identities that we do not belong to? This panel explores how to create diverse representation without stealing the spotlight away from other authors that belong to those underrepresented groups. Writer Quartez Harris, illustrator Julia Kuo, nonfiction author and DEI leader Dr. Deborah L. Plummer, and author Abby L. Vandiver will discuss ethical boundaries in different genres and identity groups.



Quartez Harris was born in Springfield, Ohio. He is the author of the debut full-length collection We Made It To School Alive published by Twelve Arts Press and full-length poetry collection Nothing, But Skin published in 2014 by Writing Knights Press. He is the first recipient of the Barbara Smith Writer fellowship from Twelve Literary Arts. His work appeared in the “Garden of Black Joy” poetry anthology published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing. He was selected as a Baldwin House Fellow and featured reader for Cleveland Drafts Festival. His most recent features are as followed: Plain Dealer, NPR and guest speaker for Cleveland's City Club forum and Ohio Dominican University. Harris is represented by Mckinnnon Literary agency. His current work in progress is a middle age Novel. He is a public school educator and lives in Cleveland Ohio with his son.
Julia Kuo is a Taiwanese-American illustrator currently based out of Cleveland. She has taught illustration courses at Columbia College Chicago and at her alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. Julia was the visual arm of Chicago’s 2017 March for Science and has had the honor of being an artist-in-residence at Banff Centre for the Arts in 2014 and in 2017. She is currently the recipient of a 2019-2021 Gray Center Mellon Collaborative Fellowship at the University of Chicago.

Deborah L. Plummer, PhD is a psychologist, university professor, author, and speaker on topics central to racial equity, inclusion, and mutual respect. As principal consultant for D.L. Plummer & Associates (DLPA), she has provided diversity, equity and inclusion services for over 100 organizations in the U.S., Canada, U.K, and India. She is the founding director of the first master’s degree program in diversity management in the U.S. and has been named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the Top 15 Chief Diversity Officers to Know. Her book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships (Beacon Press) presents an insightful look at how cross-racial friendships work and fail within American society while encouraging readers to examine their friendship patterns and have more enlightened, meaningful conversations about race. Debbie is also the editor of the Handbook of Diversity Management (Rowman and Littlefield) and author of Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race Relations through Friendships (Pilgrim Press) which received the publisher’s Mayflower Award for best publication in the category of Church and Society. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, Michael Bussey. In her next life, she plans to come back as a master chef (think Ina Garten) or a singer, dancer and entertainer (think Beyonce).

Abby L. Vandiver, who also writes as Abby Collette, is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today and internationally bestselling author who has had success in both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Abby has penned more than thirty books and short stories. Her most recent series of Ice Cream Parlor Mysteries, set in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, is being published by Penguin Berkley. Abby has a bachelors in Economics, a master’s in Public Administration and a Juris Doctor. A former lawyer and visiting college professor of Economics, she resides in South Euclid, Ohio and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and facilitating self-publishing and writing classes at her local library.


Details: Ethical Representation in Writing takes place Sunday, July 18 from 7-8:30pm remotely through Zoom. 


Zoom Info: Register for the event and Lit Cleveland will send you an invitation and instructions on how to attend via Zoom. 

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