In Black Ink (IBI) creates spaces where the stories and voices of people of African heritage are celebrated, documented and archived through publications, professional development training opportunities, and public presentations.
This publishing arts initiative provides opportunities for communities that have been disenfranchised historically and continue to be presently. IBI’s cultural literacy programming mitigates the damage of economic, educational, and cultural inequities resulting from past and current prejudice and discrimination.
In Black Ink was started in 2016 and named by Rondo poet Laureate Tish Jones. IBI came out of a year of gathering authors, editors and artists in the local literary community to ask: What do we need to tell our stories to the world? Where are there holes in this industry and what is the vehicle needed to help fill those holes, bridge those gaps, and create those opportunities for this community to join the literary world?
The biggest identified needs included the creation of apprenticeship opportunities for aspiring Black editors and writers to fill a skill and knowledge gap, and lift up authentic, community-based stories and share those with the world through a Black-led publishing process.
The data backs up these needs: Only 4% of all books published in the US are about people of African heritage (Lee & Low, 2015). In the Minnesota publishing industry, there were no publishing houses owned or ran by people of African heritage from 1817 to 1990 (D. Joyce, 1991), and no documented agencies in the 30 years since. A survey of 70 publishers in the US and Canada found that people of African heritage held only 2% of leadership positions.
In Black Ink’s programs, process and leadership aim to provide consistent creation, sharing and distribution of these missing narratives and voices. Since its founding, In Black Ink has published four books, started an archival project to collect elder stories, created a literary artist database for artists of African descent, held events lifting up writers of African heritage, and paired aspiring editors and writers for apprenticeship opportunities.
Join In Black Ink’s co-founder and two local authors live during a virtual event on June 16!