Wang & Jean Publishers LLC Publisher’s Memorandum No.1

June 14, 2021 Memorandum

Issue

Whether a diversity crisis in publishing exists in the United States and elsewhere with respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, and physical challenge. 

Findings

In 2015, Lee & Booker conducted the first Diversity Baseline Survey to compile statistical information related to the question of diversity in publishing. The study confirmed that the U.S. publishing sector is neither diverse nor inclusive. On the contrary, the Lee & Booker study found that the U.S. publishing sector is 76% white, 85% heterosexual, 89% non-disabled and only 5% black, 3% mixed race, 4% gay, 2% lesbian, and 11% disabled. Furthermore, the Lee & Booker study found no discernable change in these numbers between 2015 and 2019, which suggests the crisis is institutional in nature (Beckert & Jimenez, 2019). The diversity gap in children’s books is even more alarming. 

In 2015, Lee & Low Books reported that while 37% of the U.S. population are people of color, only 10% of children’s books contain multiracial content. In his scholarly work, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature and the Need for Diverse Books, Prof. Philip Nel argues that children’s literature has in the past succeeded in replicating prejudice, sneaking discredited racial ideologies into children’s culture in “gentle doses” under the cloak of innocence (Nel, 2017). Prof. Nel’s contention that the continued absence of multiracial characters and stories contributes to the transmission of unconscious racial assumptions across the generations. This finding is consistent with the foundation of the publisher’s mission to eradicate impoverished thought in each of its manifestations. 

Implications

The book industry has the power to shape culture. The people behind the books serve as gatekeepers who determine which stories are amplified and which are shut out. 

Remedy

YOU are the remedy. You have the power to influence the curve and inspire change. Exercise that power wisely. There is strength in numbers, but this strength begins with you. Will you elect to lead rather than follow?

Specifically, WJ’s Mission Statement reflects our intention to influence the curve. As a diverse and inclusive publisher with the announced mission to “foster a universal passion for reading by partnering with a diverse community of writers of all races, genders, geographic origins, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, and physical challenges to help communicate ideas that inform, educate, and inspire, and to connect them with readers everywhere,” our success depends largely on direct sales. In other words, it depends largely on community support.

Your referrals of like-minded individuals and organizations for inclusion on our direct sales database go a long way towards enhancing our ability to publish works relevant to diverse authors and readers. Referrals may be made by forwarding contact names and email addresses to us via email. Alternately, you may elect to ask your referral partners to visit our website and correspond with us directly. In either case, YOU are the remedy. 

Thank you for your attention and courtesy,

Very truly yours,

James Ciccone
Founder & Publisher