Interview with Executive Editor Ali Shaw, originally posted in the Ooligan Press Alumni Newsletter
I’ve always wanted to fund a scholarship. I grew up in poverty, and scholarships were the only thing that gave me hope to be able to go to college, so it’s been a goal to reach a place where I can give back too. For a long time, though, it seemed like a dream I’d never be able to achieve. I chose to fund the scholarship now for a few reasons. When George Floyd was murdered in May 2020 and there was this national boiling point and call to action to stop systemic racism, I found myself not only in tears but also in a place that I think a lot of other white people were in too—I wanted to do something, but what could that look like?Lee and Low Diversity in Publishing 2019 survey results had come out a few months before, and despite many businesses in publishing having vowed to hire more diversely after the 2015 survey results, it became clear that the publishing industry is still very white, very cis, very hetero, and very abled.Finally, I started to gain focus on what I can influence—I am an entrepreneur in publishing, and that’s a platform I can use to lift the voices of underrepresented and historically oppressed communities. The
I knew with certainty that we as an industry need to focus on opening doors to education in publishing programs for people from marginalized communities. To me that means funding a scholarship to help pay for tuition for people from these communities to go into a publishing program and hopefully join the publishing industry as well as one for Indigo clients who are from marginalized communities. I didn’t have anything set aside at the time, but I did the math and knew I could save $1,000 for each scholarship by the end of 2020, to be allocated for the first time in 2021. It wasn’t a lot, but I thought back to when I was a student, and even the $200 scholarships had helped me. I needed to start somewhere, so I stopped saying, “Next year,” and I said, “Now.”
These are small steps in the grand scheme, but my hope is that they ripple out and in two years, ten years, twenty years, we will begin to see that the publishing industry did, in fact, finally start to change. The stories we tell matter. The stories we help others tell matter. They shape the way we look at society. So it’s critical that the stories that are told and the people deciding which stories are told represent diverse races, orientations, genders, backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas. We as industry professionals have to be working toward that ideal every day.
Ooligan Alum and Diversity Scholarship Founder
If you’re an alum or a business in publishing, please join us to help the Diversity Scholarship grow. PSU’s Day of Giving is April 13.
If you’re an incoming Ooligan student and are interested in applying for the Diversity Scholarship, the essay question is: Write an essay of up to 1,000 words about how your demographic is underrepresented in the publishing industry. What effect has that underrepresentation had on you personally and on others in your community? How do you hope to contribute to publishing diverse voices to improve the book world? Applications are due by April 29, 2022. Submit your essay to firstname.lastname@example.org. The award recipient will be notified in early May.