‘Publishing in the Wake of Black Lives Matter’
with Margaret Busby and Anamik Saha
The Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 produced an unprecedented amount of public statements from corporate media in support of the movement. Such media usually shy away from making political pronouncements, especially around racism. This was particularly the case for the publishing industry which research shows remains the whitest and most privileged cultural sector.
In this event, Margaret Busby and Anamik Saha discussed how publishing can better engage with questions of race, and whether this recent reckoning with racism, expressed in the BLM statements realised by nearly all the major publishing houses, can lead to meaningful change and transformation.
Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she graduated from Bedford College, London University, before becoming Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. At Allison & Busby, she published notable authors including Buchi Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah, Rosa Guy, C. L. R. James, Michael Moorcock, Jill Murphy Sam Greenlee, Roy Heath, George Lamming, Andrew Salkey, Ishmael Reed and John Edgar Wideman.
A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has written drama for BBC radio and the stage, with radio abridgements and dramatisations encompassing work by Henry Louis Gates, Timothy Mo, Walter Mosley, Jean Rhys, Sam Selvon and Wole Soyinka. She has interviewed high-profile writers including Toni Morrison, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Ben Okri, judged the Booker Prize among others, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nubian Jak Community Trust and the Africa Centre in London.
A long-time campaigner for diversity in publishing, she is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of several honorary doctorates and awards, including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal, and the Royal African Society’s inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr Anamik Saha is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has held visiting fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Trinity College, Connecticut. His research interests are in race and media, with a particular focus on cultural production and the cultural industries, including issues of ‘diversity’. He is the author of Race and the Cultural Industries, (Polity, 2018). In 2019 he received an AHRC Leadership Fellow grant for Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing. Anamik is an editor of the European Journal of Cultural Studies. His new book, Race, Culture, Media (Sage), will be published in 2021.