Leonardo's explicit antiracist editorial policies

By Erica Hruby

With the renewed momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and in acknowledgment that our Leonardo publications do not reflect the diversity of our local community and global network in authorship, review and editing, Leonardo/ISAST feels it imperative to implement initiatives to address where we fall short. While as individuals we uphold values of equity, tolerance and inclusion, we had not yet articulated these expectations in official policy. Taking to heart Angela Davis's imperitave, it is not enough to be nonracist, and so we must be explicitly antiracist and inclusive in our policies and guidelines. 

In June, CEO Diana Ayton-Shenker wrote, "Leonardo commits to do the work to dismantle discrimination and implicit bias at our own individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels" and in public expression of this goal we hold ourselves to be transparent about and accountable for this work. In July, we held a weeklong socially distanced virtual retreat during which Leonardo staff spent time individually and together to identify and examine biases in our organization. We were guided in this introspection by Rachel Ricketts's Spiritual Activism and by Dive In Well's Diversity, Allyship & Privilege workbooks. I reflected on an analysis done in November 2018 that highlighted the overwhelmingly white, male representation in our editorial and peer review boards.

Why, in the year-and-a-half since that analysis was run, had we not made a quantifiable impact toward correcting that imbalance? In inaction, we have caused harm. I am ashamed that our editorial office did not recognize colonialist language in a recent publication (I thank the community member who stepped forward to bring this to our attention). We must act to correct our blind spots. 

We have fallen short. And we are accountable. Here are some initiatives we are taking toward becoming an explicitly antiracist editorial office:

Peer Review Panel

While we have offered an opportunity for new members to join our peer-review panel, we now actively seek BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) representation. We have researched academic departments at HBCUs and Black professional societies and collectives, and are proactively reaching out to these institutions. If you are, or know someone, from an underrepresented community who would be a good fit for our panel, please be in touch.

Peer Review Process

Our guidelines for peer review of submitted articles to Leonardo journal now include the following point for reviewers to specifically read for and address: "The manuscript and illustrations employ bias-free communication in regard to people of all ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, religious affiliations, abilities, and ages. The text and/or imagery does not promote hatred, intolerance, or stereotyping." 

Editorial Guidelines

We have instituted an Inclusive Language Policy in our guidelines for editors, drawing from the resource provided by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, as a step toward decolonialist, antiracist, equitable and inclusive publication.

We are but a small team at Leonardo and, to echo Diana's letter, we have much work to do. We invite our community to join and to lead us. I welcome your feedback and advice. Let us know how we're doing. Let us know when we err. We're listening and we commit to act.

Erica Hruby
Managing Editor, Leonardo/ISAST

editor@leonardo.info