What did Zora Neale Hurston hope her essay “What White Publishers Won’t Print” would accomplish?

Updated 21 March, 2023
In her essay "What White Publishers Won't Print," Zora Neale Hurston aimed to shed light on the difficulties that African American writers face when trying to get their work published by white publishers. Hurston hoped that her essay would serve as a call to action for black publishers and encourage them to create more opportunities for African American writers to be heard. She believed that white publishers had a limited perspective on black experiences and were only interested in promoting work that reinforced negative stereotypes. Hurston wanted to challenge these ideas and advocate for a more diverse and inclusive publishing industry.
Detailed answer:

In her essay "What White Publishers Won't Print," Zora Neale Hurston hoped to shed light on the difficulties faced by black authors in getting their work published by mainstream publishers. She writes, "I do not know of any Negro who has any desire to be anything but a Negro. But I do know that there are millions of people in the world who have a desire to rob others of their birthright." Hurston goes on to explain that the white publishing industry often pigeonholes black authors into writing about the "Negro problem" and rejects works that do not fit this mold.

Hurston hoped that her essay would encourage black authors to seek out alternative avenues for publication, such as black-owned presses, and would inspire white publishers to broaden their horizons and publish a wider range of black voices. She writes, "The Negro is a full human being and is entitled to everything that full human freedom and human opportunity provide. Anything less than this is a form of slavery."

Overall, Hurston's essay aimed to challenge the systemic racism and discrimination that prevented black authors from sharing their stories and perspectives with the world. By speaking out against the status quo, she paved the way for a new generation of black writers and publishers to emerge and create a more inclusive literary landscape.

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