Onto a New Year with the BIPOC Feature
By Shaniah Shields, Leanne Francis and Jia Wen Ho
Happy New Year! As of today, the BIPOC feature has been celebrating and shouting about creative people of colour at The Publishing Post for one and a half years! Although the magazine always covers a diverse and wide range of authors, publishers and creatives across all columns, it has always dedicated specific space to celebrate under-represented communities, such as the LGBTQ+ community and those who identify as BIPOC.
For this issue, we thought we’d introduce a bit about ourselves, what we have gained from writing articles for the feature and our hopes for the feature as we move into this year. We hope you have been enjoying these articles as much as we have enjoyed writing them.
I’m Shaniah, a recent MA Publishing graduate and publishing hopeful from the North-West of England. My family heritage is Jamaican, Bajan and English, and I am a big advocate for representation and inclusivity in publishing and in books. A passion of mine is children’s books and I aspire to work in children’s publishing in the future, where I would love to help to inspire the next generation of readers.
I joined The Publishing Post because I wanted to connect with other publishing hopefuls and to also help be a voice for those trying to break into the industry. I love contributing to the BIPOC feature and showcasing the unbelievably vast talent that people of colour have to offer. I particularly enjoy learning about cultures, voices, and the talent that the world has to offer, and this is something we try to communicate in our articles.
Through contributing to the BIPOC feature, I have developed my understanding of the big issue of the lack of representation for people of colour in all aspects of the publishing industry – senior roles, staff, in books, there is an inherent lack of representation and that needs to change. People of colour deserve to have their stories shared and to see themselves reflected in the books they read. The BIPOC feature will continue to highlight important publishing news, to showcase the vibrant and diverse talent the world has to offer and to advocate for more representation, more opportunities and more transparency in the publishing industry.
Hi! I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is a lovely city with wonderful people and amazing food. I started contributing for The Publishing Post right after I finished my law degree in the UK. Looking back, I knew very little about publishing, except that I loved books and publishing was related to the field of writing.
Contributing to the magazine has really helped me explore the big world of publishing. In celebration of diverse voices, my team and I have interviewed authors, researched about publishing in other countries and showcased many books. If there is one thing that has truly impacted me, it is that stories are everywhere and there are just so many voices that need and should be heard. I also got to discover independent presses that focus on publishing local and diverse voices. After only reading mostly white/western centric stories, it was such a pleasant surprise to find books that speak from my background and culture.
It was disheartening to find that working in publishing wasn't as wonderful as I thought. From the shocking statistics that only 5% of children books have a BAME protagonist to the severe underrepresentation of BAME individuals in management positions, so much change is needed in the publishing industry to be more inclusive and diverse! I hope this feature will continue to be as loud as ever, so that our voices can be heard too.
I’m Leanne, an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate from the North-East of England, originally from South Africa and St Helena. I joined The Publishing Post in February 2021 after completing my degree, when I began to feel slightly scared about breaking into the publishing industry. Joining The Publishing Post helped ease some of my anxiety by allowing me to connect with other publishing hopefuls; however, it also made me aware of the lack of representation within the industry.
Between us, we have shone a spotlight on the work of the fantastic BIPOC authors Maame Blue, Stella Oni and Berni Sorga-Millwood in our interview series on Jacaranda’s #Twentyin2020 initiative. We also wrote about the global publishing scene in our ‘Writing the World’ series, which explored the incredible work of publishers and BIPOC authors across the globe, with the intention of amplifying the voices of those typically kept out of the spotlight.
My hopes for the BIPOC feature in 2022 are that we will continue to talk about the issue of diversity and inclusion in publishing whilst showcasing the brilliant work of publishers and writers. I’m particularly excited to continue our ‘BIPOC Book Club’, where we will be reviewing all kinds of literature by writers of colour. I’m hopeful that, in 2022, we will inspire people to listen, create space and celebrate the big (and little) wins with us.