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The Help

Publishing is losing the race at depicting race

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I was raised in the day before the full corporatization of the publishing industry. Back then, mention publishing, and immediately names like John Updike, Joan Didion, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison came to mind. Publishing was among the intellectual gentry of the art forms—ahead of the curve, daring, pushing the socio-intellectual envelope. Today publishing houses are subsidiaries of multinational snack food manufacturers and they’re expected to return an ever-growing profit to shareholders. So, mention publishing, and you think fan fiction, self-help books and comics. Among the ugliest outgrowths of fiction publishing’s evolution is its growing segregation and retrograde assumptions on race. More than a decade ago, publishing houses spun off black imprints, essentially creating separate and supposedly equal spaces…

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