Diversity and inclusivity (or the lack thereof) has been an issue that’s been present across all industries, and the publishing industry is not exempt from it. In the Fall of 2018, People of Color in Publishing and Latinx in Publishing collaborated to send out a survey to industry workers about racism on the job.
Amongst many things, the survey showed that 92% of the respondents have experienced being the only BIPOC person in a meeting, that 72.9% have experience microaggressions in the workplace, and 88.6% of them have felt like it was their job to educate others about diversity. Another statistic showed that 47.4% of responders have been asked to do sensitivity readings not related to their job or lived experience and 51% have felt like they were just a “diversity hire” while 25% have had it implied by others that they were.
The survey revealed sad truths about the industry and that there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure that publishing is not only a diverse place, but that people of color are respected and valued in it and that their voices are heard.
The survey calls people in publishing (particularly white people) to not only educate themselves on this issue, but to actively work for structural change. People of Color in Publishing and Latinx in Publishing ask people to join their companies’ diversity committees, to ask what procedures they have in place for dealing with racial harassment, and to ask managers what initiatives their company has in place for diversifying and retaining staff.
Nancy Mercado, board secretary and special events director at Latinx in Publishing and associate publisher and editorial director at Dial Books for Young Readers, said, “Every institution in the U.S. is built on white supremacy, and book publishing is no different.” She added that the industry hasn’t changed much since 2018. “Liberals and left people in the industry may be congratulating themselves, but if you work at a toxic place, these are the answers you get from the people most affected.”
Dismantling racism in publishing is a job that depends on all of us, and one that requires us to listen to the voices of those who are being affected by the current structures of power. The full result of the survey can be accessed here, where takeaways, more in depth analysis and explanations of the results, and further resources and actions to take can be read.
Featured images via Publishers weekly and people of color in publishing