Journalist and author Shea Serrano is teaming up with the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists to launch a scholarship for Latinx folks interest in publishing or journalism. Serrano donated $20,000, which will be awarded as $5,000 scholarships over the next four years.
The writer’s motivation for doing so was birthed from a disappointing, albeit unsurprising, Publishers Weekly report, which showed that in 2018, Hispanics only made up 3% of publishing houses. All in all, the study confirmed that publishing – like newsrooms for US legacy publications and on-air sources – is overwhelmingly white.
The results of 2018’s annual salary and job survey, included statistics on job satisfaction, the non-white experience, pay gap and more. But, perhaps most striking was a chart titled “Racial Makeup of Publishing,” which showed that 84% of publishing is white. The information was released on November 15, and Serrano has mulled on the data since then in an attempt to figure out what role he can play in seeing that gap close.
The only two requirements to apply for the scholarships is that the person be Latinx and have a desire to work as a writer in either of the two aforementioned fields. The person’s pedigree, school nor their GPA will be determining factors for the scholarship. “I got exactly zero scholarships I applied for,” he wrote. “My life has changed so so so much because of writing.”
On top of being a humorous writer, Serrano has built a reputation for giving back to others – many times he decides to raise money spontaneously. But he’s also dedicated his time to helping with bigger causes. Three years ago, he used the proceeds from an illustrated bookmark collection to give 150 kids back-to-school haircuts. Two years ago, he rallied the FOH Army to raise money in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Serrano is a Mexican-American writer from the south side of San Antonio, and like many of us, he admits he didn’t know he could make a living as a writer. Since kicking off his career, Serrano has written several books – the first being Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book, a coloring and activity book and the latest, which came out in November, being Movies (and Other Things), which couples his words with Arturo Torres’ vivid illustrations and is about exactly what its title states.
“I wanna see some young writers who look like me get [a chance,] too,” Serrano wrote. “And I know this by itself ain’t gonna cause some giant change in the industry – but it’s a start.”
The Shea Serrano Scholarship isn’t taking submissions yet, but you can check out SAAHJ’s scholarship page for updates.