Here at LEE & LOW, we believe in reading diversely year round. We know that reading diversely doesn’t happen by accident, it requires a regular and concerted effort. Ethnic heritage months like Black History Month can be a double-edged sword as people often only look at their ethnic book collections during these months. In her TedTalk, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of the dangers of a single story. By allowing for only one kind of narrative, we can fall into the danger of stereotyping.
In honor of Black History Month, LEE & LOW staff shares seven books by African American authors that we’ve read recently, as well as seven of our favorite LEE & LOW titles by African American Authors:
Today on the blog we are honored to be able to interview Joseph McGill, Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, which works to preserve extant slave dwellings and organizes overnight stays in them to bring attention to the history and experiences of enslaved people. Welcome, Mr. McGill! Continue reading
The month of February is a time when many communities pause and celebrate the great contributions made by African Americans in history. At Lee & Low we like to not only highlight African Americans who have made a difference, but also explore the diverse experiences of black culture throughout history, from the struggle for freedom in the South and the fight for civil rights to the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance.
February is Black History Month. The origins of Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson launching Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson felt that teaching African American history was essential for the survival of the African American race.
In 1969, students at Kent State University proposed expanding Black History Week to Black History Month. The first Black History Month was celebrated a year later. In 1976, Black History Month was recognized by the federal government and has been celebrated ever since.
Today, heritage months can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, relegating culturally diverse books to specific months of the year can mean these books are overlooked the rest of the year. It can also separate Black history from American history, when in fact black history is American history. Continue reading
Since its release, the Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) has become the most visited blog post we have ever produced. The DBS has been widely read and written about, and has opened up a renewed interest in how to improve staff diversity in the publishing industry. In our first piece, Behind the Scenes of Publishing’s First Diversity Baseline Survey, we covered the methodology and obstacles we faced conducting the survey. In this piece we will shed light on what happens next—and what’s already happening to improve the numbers. Continue reading
In this guest post, author and media literacy expert Tina L. Peterson, Ph.D., demonstrates how media literacy skills can help readers think deeply about diversity in books.
When I was a kid, I rarely paid attention to the ethnicities of characters in my favorite books. I probably assumed that, because I related to them, they were like me – white, suburban, and middle class. Despite the fact that many of my classmates and close friends were Latino and Asian, it didn’t occur to me that the characters in most books I read didn’t represent the mix of people in my life. Continue reading
By now it’s no secret that publishing suffers from a major lack of diversity problem. Thanks to years of research by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, we have ample data to confirm what many readers have always suspected: the number of diverse books published each year over the past twenty years has been stuck in neutral, never exceeding, on average, 10 percent.
Countless panels, articles, and even conferences have been dedicated to exploring the causes and effects of this lack of diversity. Yet one key piece of the puzzle remained a question mark: diversity among publishing staff. While the lack of diversity among publishing staff was often spoken about, there was very little hard data about who exactly works in publishing. Continue reading
2016 is the second year in a row that all the 20 nominees in the acting categories for the Oscars are all white. This prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite created by April Reign to resurface. While television has started to become more diverse, this still isn’t reflected in other media. Continue reading
On Tuesday, January 26, 2016 we will release the results of the Diversity Baseline Survey, the first major study to look at diversity among publishing industry staff. The Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) focuses on four different aspects of diversity: race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. The goal is to establish a baseline that shows where we are now as an industry, and that will help us measure progress moving forward.
The DBS was inspired by a similar movement in the technology industry, led by Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou. Tracy pointed to tech’s lack of diversity—and lack of data—and was able to galvanize the entire industry to release staff diversity figures in 2014. We posted a study on our blog called The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley that breaks down the problem and the responses. After the tech industry released their statistics, several new initiatives were announced to encourage recruitment and retaining of diverse new talent. We wondered, could publishing do the same? Continue reading
In honor of tonight’s release of Star Wars: Episode VII, we thought we’d revisit our Diversity Gap Study on sci-fi and fantasy blockbusters. Star Wars is shaping up to be not only one of the biggest movies of the year but also potentially one of the biggest movies of all time, with ticket sales already shattering records.
For Star Wars fans, there is much to celebrate. And for fans of diversity in Hollywood, even more so: the film features British-Nigerian actor John Boyega as one of the leads. Boyega has been getting a lot of buzz since his role was announced (along with some racist comments from the Dark Side – par for the course when it comes to diverse casting of franchises, it seems), and is joined by Guatamalan-American actor Oscar Isaac, who also plays a major role. Lupita N’yongo will also star as an alien pirate, though we won’t see her face. Continue reading