Diversity in publishing is a subject that is often given a great deal of lip service, but real change and an honest reckoning are hard to come by.
It’s still an industry where editorial departments are 82% white.
It’s still an industry that favors Ivy league graduates.
It’s still an industry where it really, really helps to have personal connections to get a foot in the door, which favors certain social circles over others.
Chris Jackson is one of those exceptions that proves the rule. Chris is the incredibly talented editor of such notables as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Eddie Huang, and Jay-Z, and in a recent post adapting a speech last year, Chris highlights his own journey in publishing as well as some of the incredibly basic steps the industry can take to diversify.
Namely: by actually prioritizing and acting on it, and by seeing people different than oneself as an opportunity for learning:
Every new hire is a chance for me to learn something new in teaching them—to question something I thought I knew, to have my ideas challenged, to have my status quo in some way shifted. And in publishing, those opportunities are far more valuable than a premastery of technical knowledge that can be easily learned on the job. And yet a lack of credentials, connections, and certain forms of experience can sometimes bar people at the entry level. They never even get in the door.
The entire post is a must read, even if you don’t work in the industry.
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Art: Advertisement for Roessle Brewing Company by Claude Raguet Hirst