Best-selling author and writer of Marvel's Black Panther: World of Wakanda Roxane Gay has pulled her upcoming book, How To Be Heard, from publisher Simon and Schuster in protest of the publisher's $250,000 deal with controversial alt-right troll and Brietbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. The announcement of the book deal was met with criticism for giving a platform to hate speech, with some urging a boycott of Simon and Schuster. Simon and Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy has denied that the book will "incite hatred, discrimination or bullying."
Yiannopoulos's book, Dangerous, is to be published by Simon and Schuster's Threshold Editions, whose mission statement is "to provide a forum for the creative people, bedrock principles, and innovative ideas of contemporary conservatism and to chronicle the historic reforms those people and principles would bring" and which has published books by Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh. Yiannopoulos's various controversies are too numerous to list here, but include being banned from Twitter for encouraging the online abuse of Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, harassing a transgender student while speaking at her school, and starting a college scholarship exclusive to white men. In 2016, Forbes Magazine named Yiannopoulus the seventeenth edgiest person in the world.
In addition to her career as a writer that includes the best-selling 2014 essay collection Bad Feminist and a doctoral degree in rhetoric and technical communication, Gay was one of three women who became the first black women to ever write for Marvel Comics last year. Gay wrote the series Black Panther: World of Wakanda with Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Alitha Martinez. This week, Bleeding Cool reported that the comic has a new creative team for one issue starting in April, with Marvel unwilling to comment on the book's future or future Marvel projects with Gay or Martinez. Gay's new book, How To Be Heard, would have been published by TED Books, another imprint, but Gay says that she couldn't do it when both imprints are owned by Simon and Schuster.
I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation. I just couldn't bring myself to turn the book in. My editor emailed me last week and I kept staring at that email in my inbox and finally over the weekend I asked my agent to pull the book.
She also notes that Yiannopoulos has the right to say what he wants, but she doesn't need to publish her book at the company who enables it:
And to be clear, this isn't about censorship. Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn't have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it. I'm not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege.
Gay also mentions that she understands not all authors are in the position to take the same action. How To Be Heard does not yet have a new publisher, but Gay said that she hopes it will be published some day.
You can read Roxane Gay's full statement at Buzzfeed.