CBC Diversity: The Stories We Tell
Whenever I hear about some new study reaffirming that literature creates empathy I can’t help but roll my eyes.
I know way too many well-read jerks to believe that.
But maybe it isn’t so much about how well-read they are, but what they are reading? The stories we tell and the stories we hear are important. They shape us.
Institutional racism and prejudice exist in our world, and publishing is no safe haven from it. Even well-meaning people don’t realize their own internalized racism until they have been called out on it (and sometimes not even then). This post on Teen Librarian Toolbox speaks to the insidiousness of internalized racism, and that is just one example.
Diversity in Children’s Literature is a powerful topic, and if there is any doubt as to why it’s an important conversation to continue to have, just check out the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks on Twitter.
What I love about the We Need Diverse Books campaign is that it’s mobilizing people at all levels. It’s writers and readers forming a community, and voicing their beliefs and values. It’s creating a groundswell of interest. It’s motivating people to support the wonderful books and authors that are already out there by buying those books—which, let’s be honest, is the truest path to industry change.
I don’t believe in any form of censorship, and even the books that get it wrong can teach us something…as long as we’ve got plenty of other representations that get it right. That is something we need to work on. If we continue to focus on creating and supporting children’s literature that reflects the world’s beautiful, dynamic, colorful, plural, complexity, maybe the next generations will have fewer well-read jerks.
Change will not happen overnight. I’d like to believe we’re all in this for the long haul. Mistakes will be made. Let’s agree to call them out when we see them. And to listen to each other with an open mind and an open heart.