When publishing goes wrong

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou

It has been some time since I have written on my blog.  Most of my time has been spent writing so that my written work can be in a journal and/or a book.  As a tenure track faculty, I have to publish. 

I knew publishing in librarianship was tough but I didn’t know it was this bad especially when you get asked by the editor of the journal to write an editorial. In my ignorance, I thought that well you asked us to write something so you will trust and go with what we produce. I was naïve and now my eyes are wide open.

While let me back up and start from the beginning of my story.

A couple of months ago I was contacted by another Black Health Sciences librarian to write for the Journal of the Medical Library Association(JMLA).  I was delighted that another Black Health Sciences Librarian wanted me to write with her for a JMLA editorial. She was open to bringing another health sciences librarian into the fold so I immediately thought of someone and thankfully they were available to write with us. This was my opportunity to work with 4 other Black health sciences librarians. These women have published extensively, check their ORCID accounts.

Once we met and brainstormed about our ideas then we began to write and our manuscript came out beautifully.  We discussed so many aspects of anti-Black racism in libraries in our piece. Maybe we should have addressed publishing as well because the experience with the copy editor was terrible.  One of the authors Christian Minter wrote about our experience with JMLA in great detail. Here is the link to her blog post: A Case Study on Anti-Black Publishing Practices 

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible. Maya Angelou

After going back and forth with the copy editor about the phrasing and wording of white supremacy and the word white, we decided to withdraw our submission. And we were asked by the editor to reconsider our withdrawal and we were resolved with our NO. Once we decide on where we will publish then we will proceed. What began as an inspirational and beautiful writing experience turned ugly, disappointing,  and exhausting.  I am glad that I stuck to my principles. Our powerful article would have been published in a journal that truly has not realized that their culture needs to change.  If you truly want equity then you have to change some of your practices, policies,  procedures, and staff in order to support the different voices that you are calling for.  No longer can these organizations put out statements without doing the work.  Performativity has not worked. It is fake and it is harmful.  It has killed our stories, our dreams, our bodies, and so much more.

I have learned so many lessons from this situation. The hashtag #publishingsowhite is true! The resiliency that I have comes from being told that I can not or should not do some thing. I press through regardless of the road blocks and the closed doors.   I appreciate the bond that has been formed with the other Black librarians.  These kinds of relationships is what helps me move forward in my greatness.

You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise. Maya Angelou

8 thoughts on “When publishing goes wrong”

  1. I’m sorry to hear that your experience went so badly. I hope you are able to find another outlet that will respect your experience and your voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I respect your bravery in speaking out and sharing your story, and I’m looking forward to reading the article that you and your colleagues put your hearts into.

    Liked by 1 person

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