A Community of Cultural Producers
According to Lee and Low's 2015 Baseline Diversity Survey on publshing, Asians make up only 5% of editorial staff, African Americans come in at 1%. It's 76% white across the board.
What kind of outcomes are we expecting in light of these statistics? When one group is given (mostly) absolute power over something, there is very little incentive to change. Why would you give up your power? But then we must turn the coin over and ask the inevitable question: "What kind of outcomes do we envision and desire for publishing in the 21st century?"
Yes, we understand : the landscape must reflect the writers and readers of today and tomorrow.
As an editor of an independent press, I want to be an advocate and steward of people’s voices and stories, reshape the publishing landscape to include the historically unseen.
To be seen is an essential aspect of existing.
As agent and author Kima Jones explains it:
"We're at a beautiful place in publishing now," Jones concedes, but she offers a caveat. "What bothers me is when people say we're in a new cultural moment. We're not really ... Black people and people of color have been cultural producers across art, literature, music, for decades. It's just now that we're in a time in the history of publishing where we're starting to get more representation and pay for our work, getting the awards for our work, getting recognized."
Yes, we are "cultural producers," but that doesn't mean anyone is going to give us space, we need to learn how to make and take up space. We need to know how to make our own opportunity, and then share it with others so that we can make the tent as big as we can make it.