Their Story Matter with Sara Troy, and her guests, Erica Ramsey-Bowen, and Barrett Clemmensen Powell, on-air from June 9th
We speak to the lack of representation of Black children in books as bright adventurous and capable children. What do they have to be inspired by when they do not see themselves in any books?
“From both my personal experience as well as data compiled from various sources on the subject, it has been demonstrated time and time again that from an early age, children infer from the lack of diverse protagonists that there is a limitation to their abilities and potential. If the sight of the white cisgender Christian able-bodied protagonist keeps appearing in the majority of children’s books (and for me, particularly in fantasy literature), then there is an unspoken understanding that children of color, children who identify as a gender other than a cisgender male, children who are of a different religion than Christianity, and children who are differently-abled ARE NOT SEEN.
Every year, an infographic is produced and shared showing the statistics for diversity in this country compiled by Sarah Park Dahlen and every year, children of color consistently have a much smaller percentage of children’s literature starring THEM vs books with a hero who is white, male, Christian, heterosexual, BUT there are ALSO MORE books featuring an animal as the protagonist versus children of color, or another gender, or religion or physical ability.
So, just to be clear, a polar bear or a talking cat OR a naked mole rat can get more validation, if you will, of their abilities to be the hero in life than any of these other groups of human children.
And last but not least, let’s examine this from the flip side: from the white, cisgender, male-identifying, Christian, physically-abled point of view if you are accustomed to literally seeing yourself as the hero and focus of most adventures, would that not shape your attitude towards the worth of others different than you that you never see in those same pages? It’s no wonder there is a broad unspoken assumption of that white male able-bodied Christian is always to be on the pinnacle, the indisputable top of the heap.