While in one sense the propensity in mainstream discourse to describe racial conflict with words like “tolerance” and “hate”—rather than “power” or “oppression”—has made it possible for greater numbers of people to conceive of how racism affects individuals on a psychological level, a more unsettling consequence of this turn has been that diversity has largely replaced equality as the ultimate goal for many educational and workplace settings, including the book publishing world.
Posts Tagged: diversity
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Amy Rothschild explores the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, and the many strategies advocates are using to make a lasting change in the landscape of children’s literature. While 2014 showed a hopeful bump in books penned by and depicting people of color, institutional challenges will likely make change a slow process; Rothschild cites an overwhelmingly white publishing industry, executives dubious of the market for “niche” books, and strapped budgets of the schools and libraries that once wielded major influence on overall sales....more
For the Guardian, Damien Walter applauds the growing diversity of science fiction titles in 2014, particularly the work of Kameron Hurley and Anne Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice. Of Leckie’s work Walter writes:
Its unconventional take on gender politics helped Ancillary Justice make a clean sweep of the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke and BSFA awards, a rare and deserved achievement.
Jacqueline Woodson responds to Daniel Handler’s racist watermelon joke at the National Book Awards with a moving and direct piece in the New York Times. She neither condemns nor forgives Handler, but instead focuses on her personal history with the watermelon joke, the positive direction of diversity in publishing, and her mission in writing:
This mission is what’s been passed down to me — to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of.
Daniel Handler’s (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) recent racist joke at the National Book Awards exposed an uncomfortable truth about the American publishing industry: its overwhelming whiteness. For the industry to survive, it must embrace diversity. Over at the Guardian, Carole DeSanti points out that regardless of changes in the business of publishing, what matters is the content:
…any gains in the format and pricing wars are going to be wiped out if content is less and less relevant to the way people live, who we are, and what we aspire to be.
The inaugural BookCon event just took place in New York City in conjunction with the publishing industry’s annual trade convention. When the event’s entirely white lineup was first announced, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter campaign drew attention to the problem and led the event’s organizers to put together a panel discussion about the need for diversity in literature....more
The lack of people of color in children’s book is stifling, but what’s even scarier is a generational staying of the trend. Kathleen Horning examines this stagnancy for the School Library Journal:
If we want to see change, if we want to see more diversity in literature, we have to buy the books.
Salon tracked down the syllabi of two undergrad courses the writer teaches at MIT, in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing Department....more
The disproportionally white publishing industry matters because agents and editors stand between writers and readers. Anika Noni Rose put it perfectly in Vanity Fair this month: “There are so many writers of color out there, and often what they get when they bring their books to their editors, they say, ‘We don’t relate to the character.’ Well it’s not for you to relate to!
This past week was National Library Week! Still imagine all librarians as the curmudgeonly figures you encountered in elementary school? Think again. Slate has a photo project representing the diversity of librarians—showcasing their personalities, appearances, and many vast fields of study....more
This year’s BookCon is facing a lot of heat for the lack of diversity in their speakers. BookRiot feels that popular YA author (and one of BookCon’s speakers this year) John Green needs to speak up about the controversy flying around him....more
There have been a lot of hand-wringing thinkpieces about Millennials in the media, but most of them are just wordy ways to say, “Kids these days.” As Mike Dang points out, these thinkpieces also fail to take race into account, which is a pretty big oversight considering Millennials constitute “the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history.”
Many Asian Americans are expected to regularly send money to their parents, sometimes even the entirety of their first paycheck....more
Ron Hogan, who runs the literary website Beatrice, wants to help change that by starting a new book-review column that intentionally focuses on the work of a diverse range of authors....more
After public pressure came to a head, Saturday Night Live finally added a black woman to its cast: Sasheer Zamata, a comedian, actress, and veteran of improv group the Upright Citizens’ Brigade.
I held my breath and hoped she was good enough while knowing, deep down, that for a woman in her position, there is no such thing as good enough.
“We can’t think of gender without also considering race, class, sexuality and ability,” Gay says. “As long as we keep thinking of diversity as, ‘Oh, we need more women’ or ‘Oh, we need more people of color,’ we’re not even beginning to understand diversity.
In a very powerful piece in the Guardian, Bidisha writes about how she’s tired of being the token woman in the British arts scene, and about how women are consistently underrepresented in reviews, on panels, and in other venues. Her numbers speak for themselves: “I felt it [nausea] when I saw this week’s edition of the London Review of Books....more
An interview on New American Media with writer Richard Rodriguez has a fascinating take on what’s happening to American newspapers. Using the famously provincial San Francisco Chronicle as an example, Rodriguez says, “I don’t think the Chronicle is dying so much as I think that San Francisco is dying.”...more