This Saturday is Black Pound Day, an initiative aimed at helping grow Black-owned businesses across the country and a "solution-based approach to support the growth of the UK Black economy".
Whatever it was you were going to buy, wherever it was you were going to do, just direct it towards a business owned by Black entrepreneurs.
The publishing industry is very white – as few as four per cent of people working in it are Black, according to one study – but there are some great independent Black-owned publishers making space for Black writers to make their mark.
Jacaranda's focus is broad, taking in adult fiction, non-fiction, and young adult fiction, and they and their writers have racked up tons of industry awards. Their #Twentyin2020 push to publish 20 works by Black British authors has so far included Berni Sorga-Millwood's Under Solomon Skies, about two boys from the Solomon Islands whose routine boat trip turns into a nightmare lost at sea, and Maame Blue's story of a first love spanning London, Venice, Accra and Paris, Bad Love.
The characters in children's books tend to skew very white – an Arts Council report found that only four per cent of children's books published in 2017 featured even one character that wasn't white. Publishing house Knights Of has pushed back with a pop-up shop, Round Table Books, which turned into a permanent bricks-and-mortar base in Brixton dedicated to inclusive publishing.
New Beacon Books
The first Black-owned publisher and bookshop in the UK when it opened in Finsbury Park in 1966, New Beacon Books was a powerhouse publisher through the second half of the 20th century but looked like it might have to close before a crowdfunding campaign in 2017. It was saved, and its work to celebrate and preserve the history and culture of Black Britons continues in the George Padstow Institute, which shares the shop's building. Its catalogue leans towards biography and essays from prominent Black political figures, including New Beacon founder John La Rose. An institution.
Co-founded by author Abiola Bello, Hashtag BLAK's focus is developing and promoting authors from underrepresented groups. That includes Nigerian-British horror and ghost story queen Nuzo Onoh, and her A Dance For the Dead will be Hashtag BLAK's first book for adults when it arrives next year.
Founder Kerrine Bryan is an electrical engineer, and along with her brother Jason runs Butterfly Books with an ethos which is all about the big picture. That means publishing children's books with a view to closing skills gaps across the country, breaking down gender biases, and showing kids of colour that STEM careers are for them too.
Based in Banbury in Oxfordshire, Ayebia specialises in African and Caribbean writing. Alongside heavyweight literary criticism, history and economics from those perspectives, there's fiction, anthologies of short stories, collections of essays by prominent thinkers and dissections of politics and culture. Founder Becky Nana Ayebia Clarke, who's Ghanaian, picked up an honorary MBE for her work in the publishing world in 2011.
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