Black Lives Matter: resources for change
Posted on June 5, 2020
Black Lives Matter.
The systemic racism that has recently taken the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in the US is neither new nor exclusive to America. This article lists just some of the African American people who have died at the hands of police since 2014 in the US. Even in the days following George Floyd’s killing and the protests in response, another African American man, David McAtee, was killed by police and his body left in the street. Meanwhile, in the UK, a disproportionate amount of BAME lives have been lost during the coronavirus pandemic due to structural inequalities. This includes Belly Mujinga, who was spat on whilst working in a train station by someone who claimed to have COVID-19. She later died from the virus. Her story is one of many instances in which key workers, including a disproportionate amount of BAME people, have been left without necessary protection during this pandemic.
We must take action now, building sustained changes to ensure that history does not keep repeating itself in this way.
Meaningful change can only be made when we first look inwardly and examine the problems within ourselves and our immediate surroundings. The publishing industry, which includes us, has a longstanding problem with inclusion within its workforce, as well as the voices it publishes. This urgently needs to be addressed. The resources we have provided here, focussed on learning what the problems are in our industry, seeking out the work already being done by black publishers, and highlighting the actions we can take as first steps, are the start of our efforts to work towards real, long term change. This movement cannot be temporary, it must be a sustained commitment to fight racism in all that we do.
Learning the facts:
- In the US, only 1% of people working in editorial departments within the publishing industry are black.
- Less than 100 books by British BAME authors were published in 2016.
Decolonising our reading lists:
- Comma Press have compiled these lists of publishers, organisations and resources for black writing in the UK. We urge you to seek these voices out, follow them on social media, buy their books and donate where you can.
- Follow the work of the Diverse Book Awards, made to celebrate diversity in self-published and traditionally published books. Twitter: @The_DBAwards
- Support and read up on the work of Round Table Books, a bookshop in London which sells inclusive children’s books. Twitter: @BooksRound
- Order a book from this anti-racist reading list curated by Layla F Saad.
- Add gal-dem, an online publication written by women and non-binary of colour, to your daily news reading and become a paid member if you can.
Taking action (some first steps):
- Choose a cause from this list of places to effectively donate to the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Write to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education in the UK, about making Black histories mandatory in the national curriculum.
- Sign the petition to get these two crucial texts, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla, onto the GCSE curriculum.
- Sign this petition for Justice for Belly Mujinga.
- Donate to inclusive indies, a fund to support diversity-led independent publishers in the UK.
We must remember this should just be the start. We promise to have the difficult conversations, and to do better as a result.
Image: Black Lives Matter organisation