This black author just gave a truly disturbing glimpse into the book world's whitewashing ways

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Sci-fi author Nnedi Okorafor drew attention on Tuesday after she revealed a disturbing fact about her time in the publishing industry.


Okorafor wrote on Twitter that, although her 2007 book The Shadow Speaker features a black protagonist, its publishers had initially put a white person on its cover.

In The Shadow Speaker, which takes place in Niger in the year 2070, Okorafor describes the protagonist Ejii as a black Muslim teen.


But the original proposed cover featured a white girl walking. Through her contract, Okorafor has final say in her novel's covers, so she said that the novel's final cover did end up featuring a black girl, after she "threw a sh*t fit."

Okorafor's followers and readers tweeted in support of the author and her fight for the industry to be more inclusive.


Tuesday's Twitter thread isn't the first time the Nigerian-American author has challenged the publishing industry to do better. Okorafor became the first black person to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for her 2010 book Who Did That. The statuette she received featured the likeness of H.P. Lovecraft, a known racist.


"A statuette of this racist man’s head is one of my greatest honors as a writer. A statuette of this racist man’s head sits beside my Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and my Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award (an award given to the best speculative fiction by a person of color)," Okorafor wrote on her blog after receiving the award in 2011. "I’m conflicted."

"This is something people of color, women, minorities must deal with more than most when striving to be the greatest that they can be in the arts," she added. "The fact that many of The Elders we honor and need to learn from hate or hated us."


Since then, the award has stopped using Lovecraft's image on its award. And ending her thread Tuesday, Okorafor said she thinks that the days of publishers whitewashing covers could be over, too.

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