Open Letter to Latinx in Publishing:
My name is Adriana M. Martínez Figueroa, also known as boricuareads on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. On May 27th last year, the first of my posts promoting upcoming book releases from Latinx authors was uploaded to my tumblr page. Even though it still didn’t have the #ReadLatinx tag in it, it was the beginning of my advocacy online to see more books by Latinx authors be actively promoted. I began these posts because I was tired of seeing book lists and recommendation posts that didn’t even mention a single book by a Latinx author. As a recent college graduate, I wanted to apply my knowledge of Latinx Studies as well as Women and Gender Studies into something that I wanted to give freely to others: the opportunity for Latinx readers to find themselves in literature made by people like them.
On June 1st, 2018, I started using the #readlatinx tag on a post promoting my own designs on Redbubble, wherein one of the designs told people to Read Latinx books. From that point forward, I started using the #ReadLatinx hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to promote new releases from Latinx authors. I used the hashtag to promote book announcements from Latinx authors, to congratulate authors, because indeed people needed to Read Latinx authors and books. I welcomed others to use it, and after months of promoting the hashtag and creating graphics and lists, librarians, authors, and booksellers began using the hashtag as well. It’s been more than a year, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done. Indeed, the hashtag was a community effort, because the more people use it, the more books by Latinx we get to see and read.
During this time I’ve also been searching for a job. It could be part-time or full-time, but I needed a job, especially as my grace period to be able to find a job in order to pay off my loans was looming around the corner. One of the jobs I applied to during this time was for Latinx in Publishing’s Internship position for Summer/Fall of 2018. I didn’t get the job, but I didn’t hold it against you all. In fact, the rejection made me want to continue promoting books by Latinx even harder, because I still respect your organization and what it does for Latinx working in the publishing industry.
In March of this year, I had to stop doing the weekly announcements of Latinx releases because making the graphics and then posting them on my social media accounts was getting to be too much, especially since it was all being done for free. This was exacerbated by the fact that Latinx in Publishing had used my hashtag in their own account without even crediting me (see Twitter screenshot from 3/26/2019 attached in image gallery at the end).
That same day I decided to stop posting new releases weekly, and just focused on my seasonal masterposts. Latinx in Publishing had been using my free labor and posting it on their own account, so I cut off the weekly posts as to not facilitate that from happening anymore. Around the same time I stopped posting my weekly announcements, Latinx in Pub began making their own graphics to announce new releases from Latinx authors and illustrators (Latinx in Publishing’s first post with a graphic wishing congrats on a book release was on 3/19/2019 for The Universal Laws of Marco, also the first time Latinx in Publishing used the #ReadLatinx).
This week, Latinx in Publishing announced they were going to be launching a pre-order campaign for tote bags in their website, I assume to raise money for the non-profit organization which I support. However, one of the designs said “Keep Calm and Read Latinx” (see image attached in gallery, taken from Latinx in Publishing’s Facebook account).
Latinx in Publishing purposefully used the hashtag I created and still use online without even trying to contact its creator that they were going to use it to raise funds for the organization. It’s incredibly hurtful for an organization I respect as much as I do to not even verify if its creator would permit the usage of a phrase/slogan in their own merchandise. This move especially hurts when I’ve been unemployed for almost two years all while giving free labor online. I would’ve said yes to using it if Latinx in Publishing even once credited me for my labor, which they’ve not done.
I know what my work is worth. I do not wish for my labor to be erased. I wish for my work to be respected in the same way I’ve respected your organization and its efforts.
Adriana M. Martínez Figueroa