#weneeddiversebooks Is Trending. Are You?
by Solstice graduate Kimberly Mitchell
Did you know while 37% of the population are people of color, only 10% of children’s books in the last two decades contain any multicultural characters or references? (check out Lee & Low’s amazing graphic illustrating this point)
If you’re not a writer or publisher for children, why should you care about this statistic or the We Need Diverse Books campaign?
Pine Manor’s mission states “the college is committed to educating and empowering a diverse student body.” While in the Solstice Program, I had the opportunity to learn under amazing writers of color and alongside talented writers of different races and backgrounds. We challenged each other and became better writers because of the interaction, the diversity. My time in the Solstice Program gave me a head start in considering diversity in my work.
As a white writer currently in the majority population, I understand there is tension bringing this issue to the forefront. Those in the majority must respond by recognizing the problem and following through with steps to remedy the huge gap in diversity in children’s writing. We must create stories that accurately represent our children, our families, our schools. Everyone can rally behind the movement with the empathy and graciousness it deserves.
So as students, alumni, writers and people from all walks of life, how can we act? First, acknowledge there is a problem with diversity inside children’s literature. I’d like to add that if this problem exists inside children’s publishing, it exists in many other places and professions. Don’t ignore it. See it. Resolve to take action to help right it.
Next, as a writer, this means examining my characters and stories. Am I creating characters that authentically represent the children who will read them? Am I making an effort to see past my own life into the lives of others?
The amazing thing about asking these questions about my writing is it raises the same questions about my life in general. Am I intentionally spending time with people unlike me who can challenge my world view to grow and shift in a way only interacting with diverse groups and people can?
As writers, students, alumni, we have a responsibility to carry this vision forward.
#WeNeedDiverseBooks. We Need Diversity.