J.T.’s publishing platform will uplift voices from Black, Indigenous, and more communities of color

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 98)

First of all, the 98th column for our series uplifts the name of Breonna Taylor, the EMT worker who was murdered in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky after a storm of police officers kicked down her door and began firing their weapons, striking Breonna eight times and ending her life. The police officers behind this heinous crime–who had a warrant to raid another home instead of Breonna’s–are still roaming free, unaccountable to justice. To sign the petition calling for their arrest, readers can go HERE.

Breonna’s murder was also in Louisville, Kentucky, the heart of the state overseen by the 2nd most consequential white supremacist in Washington D.C., Senator Mitch McConnell. But I know there are still folks in Kentucky working to have a senator one day who actually recognizes Black bodies as belonging to human beings.

To paraphrase Fannie Lou Hamer: None of us are free until all of us are free. In that regard, I also want to uplift the spirit of all my Black sisters, sending them my warmest prayers during these yet more taxing, yet more emotionally draining times. You are not forgotten.


I have shared with readers on the blog some of my experiences visiting juvenile halls throughout Southern California to facilitate writing workshops with young men and women, the vast majority of them being of Black, Latinx, and Native American roots. Each time, during the brief interval we shared together, I arrived with a commitment to create community with these young people, even as many of them were still just “in the middle” of a system invested in their incarceration and other forms of disenfranchisement.

The feeling these programs invoked in me when they came to an end was always a conflicted one; on the one hand, I was happy to see Black and Brown youth for a time, and to let them know that they were were seen and not forgotten by their peers. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel like so much of our work was only the beginning of something far bigger for our collective freedom.

Today, it’s only more clear how as Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies, we shouldn’t have to be seated inside of jail complexes guarded by chain-linked fences and barbed wire in order for us to speak at length, to write, and to visualize and thus determine our futures according to our own judgments and volition.

It’s also clear that Americans need to set new standards for themselves if they’re to create a lasting turning point during this historic time for our communities. Throughout this series, I hope it’s become apparent for readers how violence pervades nearly every walk of life where ethnic communities are concerned, including due to policing, displacement, and divestment in resources like education and affordable housing, just so more powerful interests can extend the economic engine that reproduces inequality one generation after the next.

I also hope it’s now apparent that apart from writing, I really love to read, especially the work of other Black, Latinx, and more writers of color and people whose perspectives vary from “the norm.”

But did you know, that a 2019 survey shows that more than 3/4ths of jobs in the publishing industry are held by white Americans, including predominantly by straight, non-disabled white women? What kind of message does that send? Particularly to brilliant Black & Brown youth like those we’ve seen?

Pie Chart from Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results - Lee & Low Books
Pie Chart from Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results – Lee & Low Books

The message is that while a multitude of voices exist in the most ethnically ‘diverse’ country in the world, the industry is dominated by just one segment of the population, while Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, queer, disabled and more voices are left to occupy a tiny corner with one another. If that sounds like segregation, it’s because it is.

As one comment pointed out out regarding the survey:

“The issue concerns BIPOC and LGBT people not having an equal voice in an industry that shapes education and culture. Gatekeeping is real. Essentially, the survey results show that white cis women continue to have the loudest voices in the publishing industry and continue to decide which books should be read by the masses.

– Matthew Anderson, Struck

My mind thinks back to the scores of young people I’ve met in Los Angeles, not only through its detention centers, but also at its inner-city schools, so many of whose tremendous voices can stun the world with reverberating effects.

I want all of such young people and each of their peers to know, that JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller is unapologetically a safe space for them, as our community together despite the enclosed gates and hallways of detention centers and policed space around us has constantly been. I also know that I no longer want to be able to meet my community only when surrounded by chains and barbed wire; if the online publishing world is therefore the next great ventures for yours truly, then let there be no confusion: it will prioritize Black & Brown and any other marginalized communities most of all.

The good news is that with the twenty different voices we’ve published on the blog so far, this is already true, and that therefore, as an old saying goes: we’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing.

If you know someone whose voice can continue to grow this effort, please encourage them to SUBMIT THEIR WORK.


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