Fuse #8

Friday, February 09, 2007

Racism! Getcher Racism Here! Hot and Spicy Racism, Going Cheap!

Is there racism in the publishing industry? Particularly the children's publishing industry? I have no idea. None. Zippo. I don't work in publishing. So one enterprising blogger, a Ms. Karen Scott, is conducting a survey on the topic, though her view looks at all of publishing and not solely that of the kidlit variety. And I quote:
Racism In Publishing, How Does It Affect You?

Are you an African American author who’s been published for at least one year? If so Karen Scott wants to hear from you.

She’s conducting a survey based on the racism within the publishing industry, and whether or not it’s as prevalent as some believe. She’s looking for black or African American authors who have been published for at least one year.

She would like to know about your specific experiences within the industry thus far. She wants to know how AA authors feel about the current shelving policies, and niche marketing. She wants to know who you feel is to blame for the problems that you face. She also wants your suggestions on how things can be improved upon.

In all, there are twenty questions in the survey, and all that she asks is that people be as honest as possible. Confidentiality is assured if requested, but for the findings to yield more weight, she would request that she be granted permission to directly quote from the answers given by the authors.

She’s hoping to poll at least 100 AA authors, in an effort to ensure that a fair representation is achieved.

If enough authors agree to participate, (and depending on the findings) the results may well be sent to representatives within media and press. No promises that Oprah will hear about it, but all efforts will be made to get the message out.

If there are AA authors out there interested in participating in this poll, please e-mail Karen at hairylemony @ gmail. com (without the spaces) with the subject header ‘Please send me the survey'.

The deadline for the survey to be completed and returned to Karen is March 1st 2007
I'll be watching her informal poll with some interest. Certainly the number of African-American authors publishing children/YA novels in 2006 was low. I have no stats so I can't say if it was the worst it's been in years, or normal. Whatever the case, and whatever the reasons, it has to change. Maybe this will shed some light and maybe it won't. I thank Finding Wonderland for the link.

Which ties in nicely to this piece entitled The Curious Case of Curious George that MediaBistro was so kind as to bring my attention to. In it, the author of the piece is shocked SHOCKED by the inherent racism of everyone's favorite monkey. Interestingly enough, the author is under the singular impression that no one has ever brought up this idea before. They then, and here's where it gets sticky, proceed to compare it to Flotsam, and Wiesner's book comes out looking all the better. Hunhuna?

As with the anti-Maisy article I linked to the other day, this is yet another example of a parent stumbling across a book they don't like via their child. These parents finds a sticking point, decide that no one in the history of creation could have ever objected to this before (or, for that matter, written a thesis on it) and post a very old idea as new. Still, it gets people talking about children's books, and for this we should all be tentatively grateful. But to paraphrase my beloved Mediabistro on the matter, just imagine what author Jesse Kornbluth would think of Babar!

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At 7:49 AM , Blogger Gail Gauthier said...

"...decide that no one in the history of creation could have ever objected to this before...and post a very old idea as new."

I see this happening a lot, particularly with parenting issues. A new book will come out on the status of working mothers, and I'll think, Wait...didn't someone write this back in the 80s? It's as if every generation exists in isolation and thus believes what it is experiencing is unique. So we get media stories about the overscheduled child as if this is some cutting edge phenomena when it's been going on for a couple of decades--the parents of today's overscheduled children were probably overscheduled children.

This has probably been going on since the beginning of time. You would think, though, that with the amount of education and literacy we have these days books and studies would be remembered for a little while. It doesn't seem to be happening, though.

At 1:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting(-ish). One of the museums here had a big Curious George/Rey exhibit in 2005 with early drawings and original prints and stuff. One of the big topics in the exhibit was about how H.A. Rey was really kind of a ground-breaker because the C.G. books show African American kids in the crowd scenes and playing with white kids -- something that was unusual at the time, in picture books and in real life, I suppose.


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