The person responsible for the Publisher’s Weekly cover and tagline “Afro Picks!” offered up a defense that many will recognize as an attempt to derail the true issue. Say it with me: “It’s not about the photo.” It’s not about the book the photo is in, or the artist, or any of that.
The photo says quite loudly and strongly that this issue isn’t for everyone. It’s about THE OTHERS. And when you make it about the Others, you instantly categorize it as not for mainstream. It instantly becomes marginalization.
Given that the article it illustrates the tough climate for black authors in publishing today, the photo is a doubly bad choice. We authors are trying to make a living from our writing just as non-black authors are. We want to appeal to the widest possible audience, to show that our words are for everyone who loves a good story.
The photo is beautiful, illustrative of a time when the African American community truly needed to be empowered and take pride in itself. But in case you didn’t realize it, Calvin, African American literature isn’t stuck in the 70’s. The publishing landscape isn’t the same, and the world sure as heck isn’t. We are a global community, and I think it’s high time that black authors join it.