Recently there was a lot of angry talk on Twitter about something an author said about diversity in children’s literature and how she basically said that anything written about a queer black kid belongs in a pamphlet, not a book.
Um, sorry, what?
Edi from Crazy QuiltEdi did a post about the whole talk on Facebook that occurred over the weekend and I thought that it was a great to read about her perspective on it. The whole topic of conversation was sparked over a self-published children’s book about a black boy who loves the color pink, but you know, boys aren’t supposed to like pink… right? So it’s a story about fear and how this child wants to escape to Mars to be accepted by others.
I think that sounds like a great story! Regardless if the child is black, white, Asian, polka-dotted, whatever, it’s a story that should be shared with any and all children that go through much the same thing.
But for a white female author to go on and say that this kind of material should be in a pamphlet, not a book, because (according to her) books should have a “philosophical, spiritual, intellectual agenda that speaks to many many people – not just gay black boys” is really, well, absurd. Children need this kind of material to not only understand more about themselves, but to be able to grow compassion and empathize with those that go through the same kinds of problems.
Yes, authors of color have been trying to get published more and more, and stories about people of color have been trying to get published more and more, but there’s still not enough out there. The story and journey of a white boy or girl is fine and all, but we need more diversity. More Native Americans and traditional cultures and values; more Latinos and how they grow up in the U.S. or elsewhere; more queer black kids just wanting to be accepted and loved by others; more positive spins on Muslims, Buddhists, and other religious minorities, and heck, even majorities; more about bisexual white females and males, or really more about anyone, regardless of race, who is LGBTQIA+. We need these stories for our kids, and if people don’t begin seeing that, then where do we stand?
It’s sad to think that in the publishing world there is still such a stigma for POC authors and characters.
“It won’t sell.”
“It won’t be a best seller.”
“No one will relate.”
I beg to differ.
We want more, crave more, and need more. As a white female I, too, want to read these stories and be able to understand the mindsets, the cultures, the worlds in which these kids – and adults – live in.
Let me know your thoughts on diversity of kid’s literature. Is there enough of it? Do we need more? What kinds of topics do you want to see written about?