welcome to she lit

My name is Kibby Araya (she/her/hers), and I am the voice of she lit, a literary lifestyle media brand examining diversity, equity, and inclusion in book publishing through writers who identify as female. Kibby was also a character’s name in Star Jones’ TV adaptation of her novel Satan’s Sisters loosely based on The View that became Daytime Divas on VH1.

So you must’ve picked up that I love the intersection of literary entertainment. I started she lit to document my adventures in Los Angeles studying to become a traditionally published novelist. With that blog name, I converted this space to one that recognizes female authors and their works.

I am a news editor who has covered stories in top media markets such as Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.; Seattle, and Sacramento, California, my second hometown. I graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, where I absorbed the power of existing within the campus of a historically Black women’s college. I earned a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism while culturally resetting on nearby 125th Street in Harlem. Originally from Chicago, I looked up to local innovators such as Oprah Winfrey, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Lorraine Hansberry, and Gwendolyn Brooks to pave my path as a storyteller. 

As a novelist in progress, I read tons of books. But in 2015, I noticed my reading lists contained mostly male authors based on reviews and recommendations. I also noticed many books by women, particularly women of color, failed to obtain the marketing dollars to be successful, as in their books failed to generate social media buzz, be displayed in bookstore windows, or be promoted at all. 

Like many women of color, I am overcoming the effects of an educational system that doesn’t favor us or authors who look like us. My summer reading lists at my magnet schools rarely had women writers. To excel as a student means to read the assigned books, write the essays, and take the exams. That leaves little time for pleasure reading. Now students are witnessing an avalanche of change with book bans from school libraries, public libraries, and bookstores. Many of these books are written by non-White and LGBTQIA+ authors. Reading what you want is a revolutionary act. Reading is a revolutionary act. 

I am a descendant of enslaved people who built this country and its economy with their blood, sweat, and tears. They weren’t allowed to read. Literacy is still an important issue in our current society. Because with books we learn.

Pleasure reading is not only being threatened but so is pleasure writing. Authors of color have long had trouble attaining the literary agents and the publishing contracts to see their books live and in color on bookshelves. I am still a student developing my own homework to better understand how to break into the industry when most literary agencies boast client lists without ethnic diversity and most Black authors are fighting to be paid fairly for their work. I share what I learn and what I gather here. 

Please subscribe to the newsletter and the deep dives to stay lit. Please send press releases to shewrites [at] shelit [dot] com 📚✨

she lit editor + chief content creator