Jane Recommends “You Will Be Tokenized…” via BROOKLYN MAGAZINE

Excerpts from “‘You Will Be Tokenized’: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing” by Molly McArdle:

  • “We keep bringing others through till we fill up this room.” —William Johnson
  • “We ought to be able to create classroom[s] and school libraries where a student can pick up a book and see the food that she eats, hear the sound of her family, follow her stories. That isn’t achieved by just slapping the name ‘Maria’ on a character.” Meg Medina
  • “How many stories have I not heard because this editor was in charge?” —Mira Jacob
  • “Part of what kept me in the publishing industry was—god damn it—I have my foot in the door. When my job goes they are not going to give it to another black girl. There goes a black woman’s shot at changing something.” —Megan Reid
  • “It takes a lot for a writer of color to be recognized, and then when they are recognized, every single person expects them to be the solution to their diversity problems.” —Angela Flournoy
  • “Growing up in the largest housing projects in the United States, Queensbridge, it affects everything I do, how I read.” —Linda Duggins
  • “I asked, ‘If I had worked at a magazine like Newsweek would you propose I do an internship?’ He said that’s a good question, and I said that’s a bad answer, and I walked out of his office.” —Okey Ndibe
  • “People always say, ‘good work rises’—that’s bullshit.” —Elissa Schappell
  • “Literature is a powerful thing, especially in the hands of a child. If you ask the majority of readers when they fell in love with reading, most of them will say, when they were children. And they will remember the book or the author that changed their lives.” —Shelley Diaz

*

Jane says: This article hijacked my morning, and I have never been so excited to have something stolen from me because what I was given back—immeasurable. So much of my private pain was spoken, and eased, reading these fifty experiences. I rolled out of bed and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. You’re damn right, Syreeta McFadden; as you said, we are out here, doing everything we can:

I’d like affirmative action the fuck out of that space. I’d readjust salaries for these folks. Solicit interns outside of the usual places. Train them in the culture of what a literary citizen should look like. Make them listen to Kanye. Get the United Colors of Benetton in that bitch. Empower people of color open their own bookstores. Create a literary agency. Buy a pop culture media outlet. I know a couple of people who are doing that but they need capital. I’d give it to them—a fund for affirmation. Seed money for people who are already doing that work. That’s the thing, right? We’ve been out here working.

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