Black Lives Matter (and are needed in the Publishing Industry)

Black Lives Matter (and are needed in the Publishing Industry)
Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

I am writing today with a heavy but optimistic heart. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, are just a few of the many Black lives that have been taken in the long history of systemic racism, oppression, and killing of Black people in the United States and across the world. Our country, found with racial inequality, has swept these actions aside for centuries. The US has developed an egotistical culture of brutality. One that is disproportionally directed to people who are not white.

I do not know what it feels like to live with different colored skin and have my skin create a presumptive character. I am attempting to use empathy to understand what it feels like, though I will never fully comprehend. I am learning. I am trying. I am figuring out how to use my voice for meaningful change. I will fail at times, but I am not going to let that stop me from trying or forcing me into giving up.

Today, June 8th, I am joining many colleagues in the publishing industry in a protest. We are calling out the industry’s role in suppressing Black voices through its failure to hire and retain a significant number of Black employees and lack of publishing a significant number of Black authors. I love the publishing house that I work for, and they have committed to many changes within the organization to uplift more Black voices. I’m committing myself to read more by Black authors and listening to more Black voices. The protest organizers created a strong reading list that I wanted to share (plus some that I added) –

  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson
  • The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America
  • by Michael Eric Dyson
  • Race For Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor
  • Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
  • Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side by Eve L. Ewing
  • Are the Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Books by Black queer folks in recognition of Pride Month

  • Homie by Danez Smith
  • How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
  • Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix
  • Lot by Bryan Washington
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson
  • You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson
  • Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
  • The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
  • Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
  • This Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow

Book for Children and Teens

  • Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy; illustrated by Ekua Holmes
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
  • The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences by Carolyn B. Helsel and Y. Joy Harris-Smith
  • Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice By Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
  • Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
  • The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
  • Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice by Veronica Chambers, Illustrated by Paul Ryding
  • March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • Jubilee (50th Anniversary Edition) by Margaret Walker

When purchasing, consider supporting a black-owned independent bookstore.

In the opening of the letter, I mentioned that I am also optimistic. My optimism comes from the recent protests that are not only taking place in all fifty states but have reached four continents. The world is not only standing with us, the citizens across the world are standing up to the brutality that is happening in their nations as well. I feel as though this moment in time is different. I believe we are on the cusp of change, a change that will have lasting effects. I know change will not happen overnight and will not rectify or justify the lives taken. Eliminating systemic racism, oppression, and even our personal bias will take time and needs to be a global effort. We each have a part in this change, this movement. Racial discussions will be difficult, but they are not impossible.

How will you use your voice?

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