In mid-2014, The American Prospect published a piece titled The Unbearable Whiteness of Liberal Media, which includes the statistics on popular liberal publications' racial diversity, or lack thereof. In autumn of 2014, Publisher's Weekly published a piece titled Publishing's Holding Pattern: 2014 Salary Survey, which revealed that even people working in publishing feel that it is not diverse; over half of the people surveyed suggested as much. In January of this year, Lee & Low Books published a piece titled Where Is The Diversity In Publishing? The 2015 Baseline Survey Results with some disappointing yet unsurprising statistics regarding children's books and publishing. All of these pieces reveal the same thing: employed writers working in the mainstream are overwhelmingly White. This is not new. I am tired of seeing photographs of almost all-White writing rooms, whether it is for Orange Is The New Black or The Huffington Post, for example. The former brags about their diverse cast yet that diversity does not translate to where the power for the show lies. The latter brags about how their staff is primarily women, but think that it being almost all White women is reasonable. These staffs are not oversights or accidental; they are deliberate.
Although the very first tweet that I have ever seen for #HireBlackWriters is from 2013, and I saw Ebony senior editor Jamilah Lemieux use the hashtag in May of last year, the hashtag really caught on only a few days ago, as quite a few Black people spoke up about the importance of hiring Black writers. Below are the tweets that I shared:
This is a topic that I could discuss all day long, although most people would purposely interrupt me to yell at me to "make my own." They repeatedly and damn near robotically do this while ignoring (even after I tell them) that I have 4 blogs, previously wrote 3 eBooks (and I am releasing a fourth one in a matter of weeks), and wrote well over a thousand essays on my globally-accessed womanist blog, Gradient Lair. See, facts do not matter to people who want Black writers like me silent on this topic altogether. They do not care if I "make my own" or not; they simply want to silence any legitimate critique of mainstream media. Further, some of these same people are extremely harmful or even exploitative once indie writers and creators do "make our own." Such people often decide that our labor is not worth anything and that it is "free range" content to be plagiarized and exploited for their personal gain. Whether or not Black writers "make our own" (which is admittedly not financially feasible for every single Black writer anyway), the power of mainstream media is not one that can be left unchecked, not critiqued and not diverse. Even so, I did not share my thoughts on the hashtag #HireBlackWriters because I am scrambling for status for myself. I did so because of the clear and present marginalization and erasure in mainstream media.