We have written about this topic before, particularly as it relates to literary works by, for, or about black women or women of color. It is what prompted us to start doing book reviews at Tayé Foster Bradshaw’s Bookshelf.
Year-after-year, we confronted a lot of the same issues with regards to the miniscule titles coming from the major publishing houses. Year-after-year, we encountered a lot of stereotyped images or storylines from YA fiction (like the entire Buford High Series that upon further investigation is written by white males and a grandmotherly white female) to fiction aimed at African-American females.
The topic has reached more general conversation in the last few years with Lee and Low being one of the booksellers advocating for more transparency on the gatekeepers at the publishing house. This recent article with compiled statistics and easy-to-understand graphics helps illustrate the issue.
The recent pulling of the “happy slave” whitewashed historical fiction children’s book, , one of Scholastic’s recent children’s book offering s,helps propel the need for more diverse books to the mainstream. It not only quenches a thirst of women of color who do read, opens opportunity for writers of color, but also helps Caucasian readers explore cultures they are unfamiliar with, even within their own community, helps white children see children of color (black , Latino, Native, and Asian) in non-stereotyped roles, and helps to further efforts for a more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive society.
Let’s hope that with efforts from a broad spectrum of writers, publishers, agents, parents, teachers, readers, and booksellers, that we won’t have to worry about a miniscule amount of diverse reading materials, but a bounty of too many to read in one year.