content by

L.L. McKinney

The Role Publishing Plays in the Commodification of Black Pain

For more than two weeks now, the United States, and much of the world, has seen daily protests and demonstrations following yet another slew of murders of unarmed Black people. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, too many others, have had their lives snuffed out by the ever-present pandemic of racial and police violence. As usual, a plethora of hashtags arose from the social media seas. Among them was #AmplifyBlackVoices, meant to highlight works by Black authors and writers.

This led to a boom in follows, subscriptions, book sales, likes, and retweets across the board. Hundreds, if not thousands of people showed up to support Black authors. At least, they showed up long enough to make a few clicks. I, like my colleagues, am grateful for the boost in visibility and sales. I’m delighted by the prospect of gaining and engaging new readers, but this moment is bittersweet. I can’t truly savor what’s happening in any real capacity, because I’m plagued by a particular question:

Where was this support before?

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5 Wonderous Wonderlands and the Lasting Impact of Lewis Carroll

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

This was the page, these were the words, and I was hooked. I mean, I’d been pulled eagerly into Wonderland already, but it was that moment when I knew I would love this story forever. I was a young girl, just a little older than Alice herself, and I had recently seen the Disney adaptation at a cousin’s house. I’ve never really been into fairy tales—not knocking them or anyone who is, that just wasn’t and isn’t my thing—but the wild world, the colorful characters, the topsy-turvy-not-really-a-story way everything came together, I was enraptured. And then, I found out it was based on a book! That was something of a novelty back then, at least to little me. So, in true Elle fashion, I begged my mom to stop at the library on the way home. Then I searched the aisles and shelves for Carroll’s name, grabbed a copy of the twisting tale and, fell head first down the rabbit hole.

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Series: Five Books About…

These Stories Are Ours, Too: Writing Black Characters into Fairy Tales

What comes to mind when you hear Cinderella?

How about Beauty and the Beast?

Snow White?

I bet each of those titles conjures up a particular vision related to a well-known cartoon mouse. Don’t feel bad if that’s the case; it is for me as well. Let’s take a look at why that is, for many of us.

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