The Ripped Bodice Romance Bookstore in America has released their fourth annual Racial Diversity Report, and the results are still as damning as they were when they released the first one in 2016.
To set some context – this is a USA based study, and the results should be compared to the USA general population. According to census data, the USA population is 60.4% White, 18.3% Hispanic or Latino, 13.4% Black, 5.9% Asian, 2.7% Biracial, 1.3% Native American, and 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
If romance publishing in America was equal, we’d see figures similar to this in the Ripped Bodice study. However, we don’t.
Only 8.3% of books published by romance publishers in the USA were by authors of colour. That’s a heck of a long way from the 39.6% expected by the general population data.
Some publishers did better than others. None managed to match the population data.
As far as Australia goes, this type of study hasn’t been done. Australia is much whiter than the USA at approximately 80% White. (The White Australia Policy existed from 1901 to 1973).
I would bet the situation in Australia is similar (or likely worse) here with a much lower percentage of non-white authors being published by traditional publishers.
Why do I care? I’m a white author, I’m advantaged by this system. I have no economic reason to care; and yet I do care very much.
I care because this is unfair and I’m missing out on wonderful books written by talented authors.
I care as a reader who wants to read amazing stories.
I care because I want to know that I’ve succeeded on my merits in a fair system. At the moment, that’s not the case.