It isn’t easy being in the minority. Last night I wrote a chapter about D’s foster mother, a white woman who refused to leave her community when “white flight” went into effect. Now she’s the only white woman in a black neighborhood, and she fosters black children. Does that make her courageous—or crazy? I’m going for the former.
Ari sent me a link to The Dirigible Plum, and I wanted to give her a shout-out and express my gratitude for her sincere commitment to supporting authors of color. This children’s literature professor is doing everything she can to read more books by PoC, teach them in her classroom, and add them to her library’s collection. I’m truly honored that she’ll be teaching Wish next year…
I feel like adding more books by authors of color to the syllabi of the courses I teach is one way that I can advocate for authors of color. Depending on enrollment in my courses, that’s 30-60 more books that an author sells. I have also started requested more books by authors of color at my local library and purchasing books myself to donate to their collection.
…If anyone ever questions whether awards such as the Coretta Scott King Award or the Pura Belpre Award are necessary, they only need to take a look at the supposedly non-race-focused awards. For instance, of the 52 Printz Winners and Honor books, only 5, as far as I can tell, are by people of color–less than 10%.
When I look at the reading challenges I’m considering for 2011–the Amazon Best Books challenge; Australian Writers challenge; Steampunk challenge; Top 100 YA Novels challenge–how many authors of color are represented on those lists or in those genres?
…A couple of ideas for 2011:
1. Join the POC 2011 Reading Challenge.
2. Create other challenges like a Coretta Scott King or Pura Belpre Award Challenge.
3. Put in more time to research authors of color within the reading challenges I’m already planning to sign up for.
4. Commit to putting at least 75% of my book-buying budget into authors of color. Then consider donating the books to the library.
One more thing you can do to support writers of color is to join Ari’s African American Read-In! You’ve got five great books to choose from, and you can even pick the date for the February discussion. The global read-in is an initiative of the Black Caucus of the NCTE and NCTE.