‘There is no place for racism in our organization or in our society’
Bertelsmann’s U.S. companies including Penguin Random House and Relias have taken a clear stand against racism and police brutality. The publishing group highlights books that deal with the struggle against discrimination of black people, and Relias includes cultural competency and diversity training in its learning packages.
“We stand against racism and violence towards the Black community and we commit to listening and working to be part of the change we want to see in our world.” Since the beginning of the week, Penguin Random House has taken a clear stand on its social media channels with this statement on the latest riots in the U.S., which were sparked by fresh police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The world’s largest publishing group not only expresses its solidarity with the U.S. African-American community, it also specifically highlights books that deal with the struggle against racism and can now provide some orientation and guidance at this time. Penguin Random House is also asking people to support organizations that fight discrimination. Its sister company Relias, part of the Bertelsmann Education Group, has also taken a clear stand on developments in the U.S. in its social media outlets.
The abhorrent racism and police brutality taking place in America is intolerable,” writes the publishing group. “At Penguin Random House, we believe in and strive to create an environment of belonging and respect for all.” The company goes on to say that it is exploring ways to further support and elevate the important work done by its current partners, such as the organizations We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and AfroPunk. At the same time, it is looking into new partnerships and opportunities to support organizations that are committed to creating systemic change. Penguin Random House specifically lists the NAACP Legal and Educational Fund, the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the Black Lives Matter Foundation, 100 Black Men of America, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International USA, and promises to match any donations its employees make to these organizations.
Relias’ position on racism and police violence in the U.S. is similarly unequivocal. Yesterday, the company tweeted: “The inequity and brutality faced every day by the black community in our country must stop.” Relias goes on to declare its solidarity with the entire black community and all allies in the fight against systemic and institutional racism, and quotes the black civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in this connection: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
Referring specifically to Relias as a provider of online training for the U.S. healthcare system, the company’s CEO Kay Krafft sent out the following message to employees: “When we think of our mission statement to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society and those that serve them, we can see that Black Americans are an integral part of our community – our employees, our clients on the front lines, and those receiving services. It is our humanity that connects us all, and I want each of you to know that I am committed to fostering an environment where everyone is seen, and everyone is heard.”
Krafft adds that as part of the Bertelsmann family, Relias is taking a clear stand: “There is no place for racism, intolerance or bigotry in our organization or in our society.” Specifically, he assured readers that Relias will continue its work to become an even more diverse and inclusive workplace. The company will also specifically expand its range of training in the areas of diversity and cultural competency to contribute to the struggle against everyday racism in the U.S. in this way as well.
Penguin Random House pursues the same goal with its books. For readers who want to delve deeper into the roots and manifestations of racism in the U.S., Penguin Random House is currently highlighting several titles from its publishers’ huge catalog.
Its recommended titles for adult readers are:
- “How To Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X Kendi
- “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall
- “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
- “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin
- “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
- “Citizen: An American Lyric” by Claudia Rankine
- "Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson
- “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
And for children, Penguin Random House has selected the following books:
- “AntiRacist Baby” by Ibram X Kendi
- “We’re Different, We’re the Same” by Sesame Street
- “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt De la Peña
- “The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson
- “Let’s Talk About Race” by Julius Lester
- “The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson
- “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
- “Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry
- “Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults)” by Bryan Stevenson
- “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
- “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone