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How the Overwhelmingly White Publishing Industry Hurts Black Writers

The Difficulties of Publishing While Black

I don't think it's any surprise the publishing industry—print and digital—is overwhelmingly White. The statistics are far more upsetting than you might imagine: a recent Publisher's Weekly survey revealed the makeup of the industry to be 89 percent White, 3 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic, 3 percent mixed race, 1 percent Black, and 1 percent other. Twenty-eight percent of respondents admitted that many publishing houses suffer from a lack of racial diversity.

In a recent roundtable for Scratch, editor Manjuka Martin assessed the current state of the publishing world, writing, "most of the gatekeepers come from a place of race and class privilege. How does this skewed power dynamic affect the careers of writers of color?" Speaking with essayist Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Spiegel & Grau executive editor Christopher Jackson, poet Harmony Holiday, and author Kiese Laymon (who is a contributing editor for Gawker), the conversation touched on fostering community, staying true to the page despite an editor's advice, and the overall difficulties of publishing while Black.

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