ATR 113 – Whitewashed book covers, street lit, race and family

The protagonist of Justine Larbalestier’s novel Liar is a young black woman with short, natural hair. So why is there a white girl with long, straight hair on the cover? Why does the publishing industry assume that blacks don’t like reading, or only read street lit? What does the story of the reconciliation of one family tell us about how to make progress when it comes to race in America? Carmen Van Kerckhove, Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson, and Liz Dwyer discuss.

Addicted to Race is broadcast live every Sunday afternoon at 12 pm Eastern. You can listen live on our BlogTalkRadio page and call in by dialing 347-996-3958.

Right-click here to download an MP3 of Addicted to Race Episode 113
Click here to never miss an episode by subscribing to us in iTunes

click the button below to play it immediately

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Current
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter

3 thoughts on “ATR 113 – Whitewashed book covers, street lit, race and family”

  1. I have a pretty large collection of books by African-American authors, so I went through the covers to see if any of them have black faces on them. Some of them do, but the ones that do are either by big names (Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Alice Walker) or they’re from small presses (Samuel R. Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water). Then there’s also Dave Eggers’s What Is The What, which is a book that could probably be a discussion topic all its own.

    I’ve always had rather mixed feelings over the existence of African-American sections in bookstores. On the one hand, it is nice to have a space for AA authors. On the other hand, it’s kind of messed up when the Literature section includes Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton but not James Baldwin.

  2. Thank you for sharing your personal story Liz! That was so touching. It takes people real courage to put themselves in a vulnerable position and talk about stories that are really meaningful. 1969 is really not that long ago, people keep forgetting that racism is still around and going strong and we need to be able to talk about it.

  3. Re: “…Why does the publishing industry assume that blacks don’t like reading, or only read street lit?…”

    I, as a Black man, think it has less to do with assuming that Black people don’t read, and more to do with publishers believing that white people (the largest market) will avoid “black titles”.

    They probably assume 1) that Black readers will probably learn through the usual channels (Essence, EUR, Vibe, etc.) that the title has relevance to Black people, 2) that people of color will not be deterred by white faces on the cover, 3) that white people WILL be deterred by non-white faces, 4) that the non-white market is small enough to risk alienating.

    All big problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>