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Own-voices for Black American Children’s Book Authors 6 Percent: Still Below 10.

October 28, 2017


This video done to Tee-Grizzley’s  “First Day Out!” is so empowering, with it’s “in spite of it all, I can succeed message” Girls in STEM!  It was shared to me on twitter and moved me to shot out their empowerment to the Big 5 Publishing Houses who don’t work to provide them voice and representation.  So since that is not their priortity, I thought I’d send the voices to them.  Not that I am anybody special. It’s just that every group of color was published at double digit percentages by the major publishers in 2016 except for black American authors writing for black American youth, which was at 6%. It’s been that way for 50 years. Latin American authors 61% Indigenous Nation authors 40%, Asian / S. Pacific Island authors 89% (huge increase with historical references to WWII issues, especially)… but 6% of books published for black American youth between birth and 18 years…That means 94% of the books published for black children is NOT being published by people that share their culture.
This is an issue with all our own-voice authors, but obviously there’s a critical wrong going on with black American authors, AND this is seriously NOT the time for the fragilities to emerge.  I’m sick of the race card debate.  I don’t know how to play cards anyhow.  I was not allowed at the table.   It’s not because there are no writers out there, either.
Why is this marginalization allowed? I am still sitting here waiting for these mega millionaire-music-moguls to underwrite a publishing house that specifically pushes authors of color who write for youth of color. When will they learn to use the ill-gotten or well-gotten means, whatever it is,  to establish something with a vested interest in the community…not as a money laundering interest aka Stringer Bell’s attempt on HBO’s The Wire, but at least Stringer was thinking of the needs of the many instead of the needs of the few.  Nothing in this world has worked with that philosophy.  It’s always the needs of whole that brings a stop to it.  Sometimes one entity has it with clarity aka David and Goliath.  David understood…somebody’s got to take this bully down. The consistency of marginalization from the major 5 publishing houses in this country, however does not exist in the manner they have maintained themselves, unless there is some type of under the table payoff to who ever the doorkeeper is.  So at this point I ask:
So, whose getting paid off?  I just have to go there? 52 years ago Nancy Larrick discovered 6.7% black American presence during the Era of the Civil Rights! Now here we are 52 years later still at 6%?!  Somebody’s just got to come clean.
As Chris Myers said, in a 2014 NYTimes commentary that ran simultaneously with an article by his dad…the cartography in the GPS is not working, and our youth of color, particularly our black youth, who use the books by own-voice authors, as a roadmap to a life structured guideposts, who use them as a source of strategy to help them survive navigating through their marginalized worlds….the cartography is not working because it can’t get updated…it’s not being embraced.
So many authors of color are going the route of independent and self publishing, posting their titles on amazon, but there is no platform to get a review out and many of these titles get little to zero coverage nor are they listed in the literature used by public and school librarians.

For an independently published and small press and self-published titles, unless you are the likes of Lee & Low.  Thank you Jason Lee for hearing that clarion call and crashing though with a blitz on the diversity gaps.
But I seriously think we should play a blitz the way it’s meant to be played…with one objective, and that is with the mindset of  organized chaos…all hands on deck, take the quarterback DOWN mindset , in other words, while the blitz is taking place WE HAVE TO GET BUSY and make create open up opportunities for the small voices to be heard.

…and the Big 5 is still in  Smashmouth formation.  My son calls it 3 Yards and a Cloud of Dust mode.  Come on people!  This in no way is a plea to take the majors down.  It’s a plea to get us  to start recognizing how utterly ridiculous this charade is! Teenagers lie better than this! 52% of public school children are of color and the majority of books these conglomerates publish for the largest  population of children of color that public schools have seen is 435 out of 3,400 titles?   (see 2016 count)

In organized chaos, the blitz is not distracted.  We cannot get distracted as educators…as school librarians…as children and young adult librarians…as researchers….as educators who teach the educators…persistence through the madness…Ella Baker understood it…Representative Lewis knows about it…Message to those who care:  Don’t give in and don’t give up.

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