Monday, March 04, 2024

American Indians, Alaska Native, First Nation, Native American people and the 2023 Diversity Baseline Survey

In 2015, Lee and Low released the results of its first Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS), which is a survey to document how diverse employees in publishing entities are. That sentence feels awkward but I think you know what I mean. A second survey was done in 2019. 

On Feb 28, 2024 Lee and Low released the results of its 2023 Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS). It was created by Lee & Low Books with co-authors Laura M. Jiménez, PhD, Boston University College of Education & Human Development Language and Literacy; Betsy Beckert, PhD candidate, Boston University College of Education & Human Development Language and Literacy; Rory Polera, data analyst; and Jake C. Dietiker, undergraduate, Boston University College of Engineering.

I encourage you to go read the results. Almost 200 companies responded to the survey. That includes 11 review journals, 37 university presses, 62 literary agencies, and 81 trade publishers. 

Here, I focus on the findings about the presence of Native people in the publishing industry. 

Overall, American Indian/Alaskan Native/First Nation/Native American staff is less than 0.1%. The survey had 8,644 responses.  

0.1% of 8,644 means 8.6 people -- but the report says less than 0.1%, so is it 8 people? I don't know. I know of one Native editor at one of the trade publishers. 

As I read through the list of publishers that was sent the survey, I see Annick Press. Based in Canada, they publish some terrific books by Native writers and illustrators. Do they have an editor there who is Native? I hope so.

I don't see Kegedonce on the list of publishers. They're located in Canada and have published excellent books for children and young adults. Their founder and editor is Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm. She's of the Chippewas of Nawah Unceded First Nation. I don't see Chickasaw Press on the list (or their imprints, White Dog Press and Leaning Dog Press). They've done some great books, too. I assume they have Native people working there but I don't know. 

I mention Kegedonce and Chickasaw presses because I know about them. Including them in the next survey may push the <0.1% up a bit (my mention of them is not a criticism of the team that did the survey) but the larger issue is the need to have Native people working as editors, agents, reviewers, and interns across the publishing industry.  

I'm grateful to the teams that have done these three surveys. That is very hard and necessary work. Data helps us know what needs doing. 

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