Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Open Letter to One Story

Dear One Story,

I have been a subscriber of your literary journal for the past two years. I will not be renewing my subscription. Please stop sending me renewal notices, and please remove me from all of your mailing lists.

The reason I will not be renewing my subscription is due to the absolute dearth of diversity represented by your journal. Below is a list of all the issues and authors you have published during this two-year period:

#167 Michael Byers
#168 Emma Donoghue
#169 Susan Straight
#170 Erin McGraw
#171 Jason Ockert
#172 E.B. Lyndon
#173 Amity Gaige
#174 Kindall Gray
#175 Emma Duffy-Comparone
#176 Halimah Marcus
#177 Douglas Watson
#178 Susan Perabo
#179 Jodi Angel
#180 Michelle Seaton
#181 Chelsey Johnson
#182 Matt Madden
#183 Elizabeth Gilbert
#184 Amy Brill
#185 Tom Paine
#186 Jen Fawkes
#187 B.J. Novak
#188 Laura Spence-Ash
#189 Maggie Shipstead
#190 Emily Ruskovich
#191 Jonathan Durbin
#192 Katie Coyle
#193 James Winter
#194 Whitney Groves
#195 Chuck Augello
#196 Diane Cook

If an extraterrestrial life-form visited our planet, and if One Story was the sole literary publication they stumbled upon, I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that they would assume that: 1) white people are the only humans who inhabit Planet Earth, and/or, 2) white people are the only humans capable of crafting story narratives, and/or, 3) white people and their stories are the only significant ones.  Judging from this list, your journal looks like a KKK-sponsored publication.  Do you not see that?  Of these writers published in your journal, the closest you get to publishing a writer of color is Susan Straight!

I earned an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve participated in several writing workshops which were far more diverse than this list of recent publications. I know, firsthand, that there are writers of color penning stories in this country. I know their work is just as worthy of publication as this all-white list of writers. To boot, your journal is headquartered out of Brooklyn, NY, one of the most diverse metropolises in the United States. You should be ashamed of yourselves for stifling literary diversity.

Juan Alvarado Valdivia


  1. I think I've been a subscriber to them for YEARS, and I've never given this a thought (I also haven't read an issue in years -- they are stacked up in my Kindle like ridiculousness). This gives me great pause...it sounds like it's time to move my subscription dollars to another journal.

    1. An overwhelming amount of pieces One Story publishes are really good; I think that's why it took me a while to notice just how lacking they were in diversity. That said, most literary journals or magazines suffer the same problem, unfortunately. So, by no means is One Story alone in that respect, but that two-year period I noted was particularly brutal.