Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"The Unbearable Whiteness of Publishing"

It's not my title, I swear.

Check out this great observation from Bella Stander over at "Reading Under the Covers":
"The bigger picture is that the publishing industry is overwhelmingly white. Don't believe me? See the photo above for Exhibit #1. That's Book Promotion 101 workshop alum (and Harvard man!) Baratunde Thurston, my perennial date for the Saturday Book & Author breakfast, holding a spot for me in the endless line (more about that in another post). Every year we joke about how easily I'll be able to find him in the crowd; every year the joke gets less funny."

And EditorMom, Katherine O'Moore-Klopf, chimes in with another great inquiry:
"How skewed are the worldviews presented in American books if most of the authors who get published and most of the publishing professionals who work on those books are white and if authors of color who do get published see their books placed in ethnic sections in bookstores? And how do we make it possible for more writers of color to be published by the big publishers? How do we make mainstream book publishing more accessible and desirable as a career to people of color?"

16 Comments:

Anonymous Ancient Reader said...

There needs to be a good classaction lawsuit to help address this ongoing nonsensical race discrimination in running wild in publishing.

Saying that, what has become of the Millenia Black lawsuit?

6/27/2007 3:28 AM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Hi Ancient Reader.....good to see you. I'm as curious as you are. Millenia's blog has been silent for a while. I assume the wheels must be turning. I'm actually holding my breath for the outcome.

As for a class action lawsuit, I think more individual suits are likely to be seen before a group of us band together to that degree. Particularly if Millenia Black has a positive outcome.

6/27/2007 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Ancient Reader said...

My dear BSA people like you and Monica and few others do make our world feels preoccupying because of your substantive output.

I always feel encouraged by things you say an I'm taken to people with high self-esteem, no respect of person and who're not afraid to condemn, in our line of concerns, racist conduct by those in publishing who seem to think that the lives of authors are not as special or important as theirs.

So we'll stand together never letting the essence of racial crimes diminished while publishers laugh and authors grimiest to make ends meet - not because their products are not good but as in this thread, whereas you've shown how white authors are treated more favorably as opposed to black ones.

I have no doubt Millenia will come out with something that encourages others to follow suit. It's time authors realize that passivity, tolerance of the racist treatment will not help or change anything for their good. I know this might sounds slight but more black parents should expose their children to a few law courses.

What that does is empower them to file complaint in court and do their own discovery to vindicate arm done to them. Once one can do that and if enough people begin to flood the counts with pro se filings a lot of things would definitely change at that effort, instead of just standing around waiting, waiting on the world to change as said John Mayer song. Lets hit them where it hurts most right in the pocketbook once taken to court.

6/29/2007 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would a class action suit be effective? Would it draw more attention to this deplorable situation or would it force the publisher to act, or all of the above? Are you proposing that it target the marketing or racially skewed publishing or both?

What could be done to encourage people of all races to read fiction buy more fiction by authors of African descent? Do books by white authors about minority characters hurt or help?

I'm sorry to ask so many questions, but I can only look at this from a white perspective. I am genuinely interested in learning more.

CJ

6/30/2007 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Ancient Reader said...

Honestly, I really like most of those questions JC.

A one plaintiff lawsuit like Roe V. Wade can have enormous national impact on the way folks think of course. As is evident, what makes the difference is the type of cause one brings before the magistrate for treatment and if you have a class-action lawsuit with comparable weight that could generate more attention, however the outcome will carry the same effect.

Publishing discrimination against colored authors is a problem that lies with the publishers alone, and they are the target of remedial lawsuits not book sellers. If publishers demonstrate equal treatment of all authors black and white the market is bound to be uniform, everyone would get a fair shake and would have absolutely no reason to gripe with their publishers.

There's no need to ask people to buy and read books of any particular ethnic author when their work is classified and marketed on a level playing field, in that what you get is what you got and you can wrong nobody for true results.

That's my take JC.

6/30/2007 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Ancient Reader said...

I Apologize for posting this comment here but Monica has refused to approve it on her post, "UPFRONT AND HONEST".
----------------------------------

Ancient Reader Says:
July 3rd, 2007 at 2:48 pm

Monica, what in the suggestion discouraged you from being proactive? I am sorry but the fact you’re not able to explain yourself in a more coherent way leaves no doubt you’re a hindered core black racist who refuses to open up opportunity to whites like whites are expected to do blacks.

See, that’s why the other racist black sisters dropped you on your forehead and now you want us to respect you for taking the heat, you’re little bit better than those girls - for the most part you’re seated on the same colored bench Ms. Monica. The plan you all ventured in was a good one except for that it was racially tuned and was bound to failure from the very start, stop the niching of yourself because its a plantation mentality, open up to America. Out of many one people in America there’s no more outright legal white plantation here.

Change your racist attitude, plan on going mainstream and you’ll see what a difference it makes. You may think you’re not racist but look introspectively and I’m sure you’ll find the problem as is pointed out to you.

7/03/2007 7:13 PM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Wow....Monica's censoring? Too bad.

I do agree with your basic point, AR, it's the delivery that may be off-putting.

It's unfortunate the venture of the organization failed, but I'm in agreement that founding anything defined by race is ultimately couterproductive. Any underexposed writer should feel the organization is for them, not just AAs and it's off-putting to define the org. as forwarding "black" interests. Anyway you split the banana, it's still a banana, right?

Work on your delivery, AR. Delivery can make or break your point.

7/05/2007 8:24 AM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

CJ said:
What could be done to encourage people of all races to read fiction buy more fiction by authors of African descent? Do books by white authors about minority characters hurt or help?

The first thing that should be done is desegregating books on the basis of race. If the book has nothing to do with racial issues, why should it be geared toward a specific race group? As it's been pointed out in other commentary, this gives others the message: these aren't for you.

As to your second question, I think authors should be free to write whatever characters they want. Writing multi-ethnic definitely helps as it reflects real life, don't you think?

7/05/2007 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Ancient Reader said...

Thanks BSA, I do apologize for such raw delivery and accepts your admonition.

7/05/2007 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what I've found over by Karen Scott blog on the Millenia Black's saga.
---------

An Insider said...
Update: Parties are talking settlement now. Penguin Group is offering to re-issue Millenia Black's book to resolve the suit, possibly with a new pen name. Word is they're going back and forth on the details of a re-publication.....many wonder how far she can go representing
herself......Insider
http://karenknowsbest.blogspot.com/2007/03/racism-in-publishing-millenia-black-has.html

7/20/2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Yep....just as I suspected. Penguin will have to settle out of court. The act of racism is too overt to risk litigation. I hope we hear something from Millenia Black soon.

Thanks for the note, Anonymous.

7/21/2007 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI

Millenia Black has posted recently, have you seen that one?

Link below:


http://milleniablack.blogspot.com/

8/22/2007 5:19 PM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Anon. It's great to hear from Millenia.

8/24/2007 8:13 PM  
Blogger Karen Scott said...

Well, the case has been settled now thank goodness. You read her announcement?

5/14/2008 10:21 AM  
Blogger Karen Scott said...

Just subscribing.

5/14/2008 10:23 AM  
Anonymous books by black authors said...

This is why self publishing is so attractive!

7/30/2010 1:29 PM  

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