A couple of years ago, I was listening to an interview with author Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be, We Gon’ Be Alright) when he said something that startled me so much I tried to rewind the radio. He said that after he signed on his new book the person who signed him retired, effectively cutting the number of Asians in publishing in half.
Half! Meaning there were only TWO to start with.
When we say representation matters, we aren’t only saying we need more authors of color. It is also true that we need more people of color in the business of doing the publishing and producing (if you read Can’t Stop Won’t Stop you’ve already seen how that representation shapes the world of music/hip hop).
I wanted right away to be able to do something about this ridiculous news. The feeling of the world bearing down on me is frequent and fierce, and finding some kind of agency in that mess helps me hold hope. I thought about what one person can do for a long time.
My answer, in the short term, has been to read, purchase and recommend books written by people of color (almost) exclusively. Whenever I have a choice, I have opted for books written by and about people of color. Mostly this means fiction (because of the lack of representation in my professional field), but I have read some great non-fiction too.
What are you reading these days? I’d love to get recommendations.