The following press release was shared with Latino Rebels on Tuesday morning:
NEW YORK – Today, Presente.org, the nation’s largest online Latino organization, submitted a formal request to New York Governor Cuomo to initiate an industry-wide investigation of potential discriminatory practices in hiring staff and in contracting with authors in the publishing industry.
The request to Governor Cuomo continues more than a month of sustained nationwide action Presente.org has undertaken as part of the #DignidadLiteraria movement. A firestorm of criticism from writers and activists toward the publishing industry has intensified following the controversy-laden publication of the novel, American Dirt. In conjunction with submitting a formal request to the Governor’s office, Presente.org has also started collecting thousands of signatures supporting the call for an investigation.
“We have requested that Governor Cuomo direct the New York State Division of Human Rights Division-Initiated Investigations Unit (DII) to initiate a systematic investigation into the alarming discrimination reflected in statistical trends, as well as complaints we’ve received from both Latino employees in the major U.S. publishing houses and authors throughout the country who have contacted us since we helped launch #DignidadLiteraria,” explained Presente’s Executive Director, Matt Nelson.
The letter from Presente.org and #DignidadLiteraria includes startling statistics that the groups believe reflect potential discriminatory practices meriting an investigation by the Governor’s office of the “Big Five” (Macmillan, Hachette Livre, Simon and Schuster, Penguin/Random House and Harper Collins), all of which are headquartered in New York City and within the jurisdiction of the Governor’s DII office. Among the more disconcerting statistics are:
- Latinos constitute 18% of the total US population, but only 300 of the more than 300,000
books published each year are written by Latinos. That’s one percent representation in
terms of authorship. (SOURCE 1, SOURCE 2, SOURCE 3)
- Latinos working in publishing amount to a dismal 6% overall (versus 78% White/Caucasian).
- Latinos make up only 3% of executives in publishing, only 2% of editors, only 4% of the sales force, only 5% of the marketing team, and only 5% of interns. (SOURCE)
These abysmal figures suggest that the U.S. publishing industry may be systematically discriminating against Latino communities. The century-long pattern of exclusion highlighted in the above figures intimates pervasive, structural racism that the industry itself cannot be trusted to correct without supervision.
Presente.org is the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group, advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture.
#DignidadLiteraria is a network of committed Latinx authors formed to combat the invisibility of Latinx authors, editors and executives in the U.S. publishing industry and the dearth of Latinx literature on the shelves of America’s bookstores and libraries. #DignidadLiteraria believes in the social and political power of wholly authentic Latinx voices and that it is the duty of the publishing industry and literati to use their full power and privilege to elevate these voices.