Two Black former DC Comics editors describe the career obstacles they faced, from white leadership saying they’d never be promoted to their achievements being undercut



DC Comics; Samantha Lee/Business Insider


© DC Comics; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
DC Comics; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

  • Harvey Richards and Lateef Ade “L.A.” Williams, two Black former DC Comics editorial staffers, told Business Insider they felt their careers at the company were hindered because of their race.
  • Richards was fired in December 2019 after 22 years and was the only Black editorial staffer at DC when he left. He was only promoted once. 
  • Williams exited in 2000 after six years without a promotion and after disputes with white members of DC leadership.
  • The careers of Richards and Williams cut across two decades, but the similarities in their experiences, from being told they’d never be promoted to a feeling that their achievements were not valued, show how little has changed for Black staffers.
  • DC’s small editorial team shapes the comics that inspire lucrative movies, video games, and merchandise. Richards and Williams said that it’s important for Black editors at DC to be in a position to champion diversity.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Harvey Richards and Lateef Ade “L.A.” Williams have a lot in common. They both grew up reading comics with aspirations to work in the industry one day. They both ultimately nabbed roles on the editorial staff of DC Comics in the 1990s.

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And they are both Black men who say they never achieved their full potential at DC Comics because of their race.

There are differences in their stories — notably, the time periods. Williams exited his role as an assistant editor in 2000 after six years without a promotion, while Richards spent 22 years at the comics giant with just one promotion before he was fired in December 2019. 

But the similarities that cut across those two decades are striking and speak to how little has changed for Black editorial staffers at DC Comics and in the comics industry at large.

Richards was the only Black staffer in the main DC editorial department at the time of his exit in 2019, which included about 15 people, he said. He added that DC had since hired a Black assistant editor. DC declined to comment on personnel matters.

DC, which is home to Batman, Superman, and other iconic characters, is much larger than its comics editorial department, with around 200 employees on the publishing side. But the small team of editors shape the comics and characters that inspire lucrative movies, video games, TV shows, and merchandise.

“You need [Black] editors to help nurture talent to foster diverse characters,” Richards said.

Besides being the only Black editorial staffer at the time of his exit, Richards felt stymied in his own career, he said. In his 22 years at the company, he was only promoted once. He began as an assistant editor and 12 years later, in 2009, he was promoted to associate editor.

L.A. Williams can relate.

“My personality and work style is different than Harvey’s, who is different from every other name I could rattle off,” Williams said. “But no matter