September 28, 2016
#1000BlackGirlBooks founder releases limited edition ’zine for ELLE.com
by Simon Reichley
Earlier this year we wrote about Marley Dias’s quest to gather 1000 books starring black girls and women of color and send them to a low-resources library St. Mary’s, Jamaica. After surpassing her original fundraising goal, Dias has been on a roll. She’s met with the FLOTUS, Oprah, and Ellen, has expanded #1000BlackGirlBooks to communities in Newark, Philadelphia, and West Orange, NJ, and will be speaking at the 3% Conference in New York this fall.
Now, Marley has been brought on as editor-in-residence at Elle.com, where she has put together and released a special edition ’zine, titled Marley Mag. The limited edition mini-mag features interviews with Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore and “beautiful princess athlete” Misty Copeland, an excerpt from A.C. Thomas’s forthcoming novel The Hate U Give, and poetry from Amanda Gorman.
According to Dias’s editorial letter introducing the issue, #MarleyMag continues the work that began in her previous project, to “change the way we imagine black girls in books and in culture and… create new spaces for black girls to be represented.”
Considering the demoralizing lack of diversity in publishing, the timing of this piece—and Dias’s project more generally—couldn’t be better. We need to see more people of color being brought into the field and encouraged to do great, satisfying work. Of course, we really need to do so when no one is watching, and this means bringing people into the industry who have not necessarily spent time with Michelle Obama or Ava DuVernay. But if you strip away the media hubbub and production value of #MarleyMag, what you are left with is a young black woman who got an internship at a magazine, didn’t feel alienated by the experience, and did a great fucking job. That’s something we can do more of.
Simon Reichley is the rights and operations manager at Melville House.