Creative Loafing (Atlanta) came under criticism earlier this month when its “8 Artists To Watch” cover story failed to include any minorities. In a city that is 56 percent black, many readers found the lack of diversity particularly striking.
Editor Mara Shalhoup addressed the issue in an opinion piece in which she admitted, “We made a mistake.”
Still, she defended the process by which the artists were chosen:
Having been employed by Creative Loafing for a decade, I can tell you there are no quotas here. There is no one saying the covers need to have a certain number of people of any race, religion or sexual orientation. The people who end up on the cover land there because of an organic process by which a diverse group of writers — white, black, gay, straight, male, female — pitch ideas to editors. Aside from the “8 Artists” story, that process has naturally delivered a broad mix of people and topics. Is there still room to improve? Yes. And we will strive to do so.
In an earlier blog post, the paper’s arts columnist Cinque Hicks dug deeper, suggesting that the incident “reveals the bigger problem of racial divisions in Atlanta’s arts communities.” Specifically:
Like most cultural events, the fall arts preview represented a collection of people who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone. Otherwise known as a clique. Given Atlanta’s history of segregation, its history of separation enforced by law, custom and geography, it’s no wonder that most of the city’s cliques are profoundly race-based.