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Abstract

African Americans remain marginalized within the children’s publishing industry, despite the 2014 increase in books about Africans/African Americans. This sudden spike was not paired with a comparable increase in the number of books by Blacks, however, suggesting that power remains where it has always been: in the hands of whites. The homogeneity of the publishing workforce matches the homogeneity of published authors and their books. The marginalization of writers of color is the result of very deliberate decisions made by gatekeepers within the children’s literature community—editors, agents, librarians, and reviewers. These decisions place insurmountable barriers in the path of far too many talented writers of color. In this essay I advocate for a model of community-based publishing that uses printon- demand technology to transfer power from the industry’s (mostly white) gatekeepers to those excluded from the publishing process. I will also demonstrate how public libraries place additional barriers in the path of writers of color by adhering to policies that prevent self-published books from being acquired. Indie authors and their books offer important counter-narratives that cannot easily circulate—particularly in low-income communities—without the assistance of libraries and informed, nonbiased librarians.

 

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