Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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US publishing staff take collective action to protest industry’s role in systemic racism

In the US, more than 1100 workers in the publishing and media industries took a day off from work to spend time in service of the Black community on June 8, reports Publishers Weekly.

The collective action—which PW reports was taken by mostly junior staffers—was to protest Black lives lost to racist violence in America, and to ‘speak out against racist murder, white supremacy and racial capitalism’.

Participants donated one day’s pay to one of a number of fundraisers and were asked to use a collectively written out-of-office email statement, which organisers said was the ‘result of sustained consideration, discussion, and legal advice’, that explained the course of action and included a link to a list of fundraisers. Organisers emphasised that the final wording for the statement was created collectively by the 1100 individuals who signed on to participate.

The statement read in part, ‘We protest our industry’s role in systemic racism, its failure to hire and retain a significant number of Black employees or publish a significant number of Black authors, and its pursuit of profit through books that incite racism.’

In a letter shared via Google Docs explaining the action, organisers noted that the protest was ‘meant to be disruptive—our goal in this action is not to collaborate with corporate publishers on demands we might make but to build separate, collective power across the people who work in this industry. We are disrupting and taking action by refusing to participate in a system complicit with white supremacy and racial capitalism for a day.’

 

Category: International news