Diverstiy In Children's Books
It's Dec 3, 2017 and we are still talking about why it's important that children of color be seen in children's books. While we have come a long ways since Dick and Jane, we still have miles to go where this subject is concerned. There is still a big void to fill in the world of children's books for all children of color. I know the power of seeing one's self in a picture book and the need of seeing it is so very important for all babies. .Children of color because when they don't see themselves it is a direct message to their minds, bodies, souls that they don't matter and they we are invisible to the world.
It is not enough to place a black, brown or asian child in the background and then say, "We are diverse and we are showing diversity" Oh it's much more than that and Ezra Jack Keats got it! Peter from The Snowy Day was just a little boy having fun in the snow. What child doesn't hope for a snow day when they won't have to go to school or plays in the snow hoping to bring a snow ball it hoping that it will last until tomorrow? It's a universrsal story brilliantly told by Mr. Keats.
It is also not enough for whites to tell the stories of African American, Indian, Asian and Latino children. So often we are not the writers of our own stories and this also is a travesty! My story is just that! My story. No one else can tell it for me. Everyone has a right to create the stories that they want to tell, but there is a story that only I as a person of color can tell and share with the world. I went to a publisher and told her of my multicultral background. I shared that I have many family members of color. I told her that I wanted to share a story of the Holocaust. She looked at me as if I had two heads. "What do you know about the Holocaust.?" she asked. Never mind that I had Jewish roots too. In her mind, all see saw was my brown skin and it couldn't be Jewish in any way shape or form. She thought it improper and shut down the converstation very quick. Stay in your lane so to speak.
Well, I would be lying if I said that I didn't feel some kinda way cause I was hot as fire. Oh yes, I own that! Yes indeed. Why is it okay for people who do not share my skin color, hair texture and culture to write about me and mine? Why is it okay for you to come up with stories that are suppose to reflect and depict my life? You can't write about what you do know or haven't experienced. What do you know about being called, Blacky or being excluded because your skin color or even the PTSD that happends every time a cop looks your way? Questions that come up when we talk about this subject. In my opinion it would be great for us to tell our own stories first.
It is also my opinion that everyone and I do mean everyone has a right to right the stories that they want to write. I have no control over this and I don't want control over it. As creative beings we should be able to tell the stories that we want to tell.
My desire is that more people of color get to share their stories in mainstream media.That all get to have a seat at the publishers table. We must do better and we can do better.