The publishing industry’s hunger for palatable & ‘instagramable’ feminist voices is the problem, not Chidera Eggerue speaking her truth. [@theslumflower]

Chidera Eggerue
https://twitter.com/mlothianmclean/status/1336595959065796609

Activist, influencer, and writer Chidera Eggerue who founded the SaggyBoobsMatter hashtag and movement has publically accused social activist and author, Florence Given of copying her.

Eggerue, who is popularly known as The Slumflower took to social media last Tuesday, to compare the cover and pages of her two books, How To Get Over A Boy and What A Time To Be Alone with Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty.

As a keen reader of self-help books and feminist manifestos, I have often found myself in the corners of book stores (the few that are left) searching for new voices. When Eggerue’s What A Time To Be Alone was released in 2018, you had to be living under a rock if you hadn’t heard about it. The design and graphics were instantly eye-catching, the title itself was bold, confident, and instantly drew you in. Eggerue has used this format in her second book How To Get Over A Boy and guided notebook Scribble Yourself Feministaimed at a younger audience. A format that is also present in Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty. 

Chidera Eggerue

In a series of Instagram stories, Chidera made it clear she wasn’t pleased with the book’s similarities and stated “Black women continue to pave the way, set the trends and set the pace,” she said. “If you feel a sense of passion from this story, I want you to use this opportunity to think about and observe the ways that, especially in the publishing industry, black women rarely receive our flowers and when white people repeat what we say, or gentrify our sentiments, they receive the praise, they’re referred to as ground-breaking and extraordinary. This is exactly how white supremacy works.”

“It’s unfortunate that there are many black great people out there whose work we will never come to know because, by the time they’re ideas even reach the surface, a white person gentrified it, hogged the mic and made the narrative all about them.”

Chidera Eggerue

The social activist went on to share a series of screenshots from Google search to demonstrate her point. Even while searching specifically for Chidera Eggerue ’s work for myself, Florence Given’s book seems to always appear, even sometimes before Eggerue. However, when you search Florence Given on google, Eggerue’s name is nowhere to be found. There has been some speculation on social media as to why this is the case, with some suggesting that it was a deliberate marketing strategy to push Given’s book further into the mainstream.

Eggerue said “Women Don’t Owe You Pretty has not only been a chart-topping, record-breaking bestseller since its publication this summer, but has generated wealth – all of which will be going in the pockets of white people, but none reaching the hands of the Black women who this body of work would not have existed without.”  

On the 12th of December, Florence took to her own social media page to respond to the accusation. The 21-year old feminist writer claims to have been inspired by Chidera’s work and it’s the reason why she included Chidera on her acknowledgments page. She says, “My acknowledgments page was dedicated to Black women for bringing my own white and desirability privileges into my consciousness.

“Black women have taught me to be a better feminist throughout my journey and that’s why I ackowledged them on my page. I wanted to create a space in my privilege and encourage the people who would read my work, to discover, support, and pay for theirs too’.”

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Florence Given

She continued to say, “My team has confirmed with me that we have not promoted the Google results where my book is coming up when people search for Chidera’s name. I was of course horrified to find this out’.” Florence Given makes the point that “we should be critiquing the systems that prioritise and catapult white women’s work, even when you search for a Black author’s name”. 

Both authors were presented by the same agency @divingbellgroup who dropped Eggerue from their roster when she let the world know about the similarities between her and Given’s work. The Diving Bell Group is an influencer agency whose website opens up with full support of BLM, whilst in turn, has seemed to abruptly drop one of the most signficant voices of London’s social activism scene because of the injustice and inequality she’s expressed. It seemed that Eggerue was celebrated for a time by her agency for freely expressing her opinion until it no longer suited them.

I worry about this industry and its ability to turn two talented women and their readers against each other. The teams and publishers working behind the scenes, should know better and be the ones that are under scrutiny, not Florence Given and certainly not Chidera Eggerue. However, in an industry that hungers for new feminist voices that will keep young readers buying bright, palatable, and ‘instagramable’ instructions on feminism and woke culture. I am unsure if management agencies and publishers will change their ways anytime soon. In the meantime, I extend my best wishes to Eggerue as she embarks on finding representation that truly has her best interest at heart.

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