HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Race & Ethnicity » African American (Group) » Do black children's lives...

Fri Nov 6, 2015, 02:59 PM

Do black children's lives matter if nobody writes about them?

Besides teaching us who we are, books are where we learn who is important enough to read about – and only 5% of kid’s books had black characters last year


Literature’s job is not to protect young people from the ugly world; it is to arm them with a language to describe difficult truths they already know.

“In times of crisis or unrest,” Ferguson municipal public library director Scott Bonner wrote in an email conversation, “everyone, but especially kids, will have questions that tie to identity, empathy, sense of belonging vs exclusion, seeking a role to play, and so forth”. Bonner turned the FMPL into a safe haven during the civil unrest in 2014, earning it a Library of the Year award and international acclaim.

“Books help us know who we are,” he added, “and we must know who we are before we can understand what we must do.”

Besides teaching us who we are, books are where we learn whose lives matter enough to read about: a recent Florida State University study called children’s literature “a dominant blueprint of shared cultural values, meanings and expectations”. Exclusion from this world, the study says, constitutes a kind of “symbolic annihilation”. As suicide rates among black youth skyrocket, and police officers justify killing unarmed children, the annihilation becomes much more than symbolic.


The ongoing crisis of state-sanctioned violence and antiblackness in America is not a new problem, but sustained protests have forced the world take note of it. And while some individual writers have spoken up, the Young Adult industry has had little to say about what the New York Times called “the most formidable protest movement of the 21st century to date”.


http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/06/do-black-childrens-lives-matter-if-nobody-writes-about-them

12 replies, 1587 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Do black children's lives matter if nobody writes about them? (Original post)
ismnotwasm Nov 2015 OP
HassleCat Nov 2015 #1
leftofcool Nov 2015 #2
brer cat Nov 2015 #3
ismnotwasm Nov 2015 #4
kwassa Nov 2015 #5
Kind of Blue Nov 2015 #8
Kind of Blue Nov 2015 #6
ismnotwasm Nov 2015 #7
Kind of Blue Nov 2015 #9
ismnotwasm Nov 2015 #10
Kind of Blue Nov 2015 #11
ismnotwasm Nov 2015 #12

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Nov 6, 2015, 03:06 PM

1. I remember the furor when black and other non-white baby dolls came out

 

People couldn't believe it. Considering about half the country is now other-than-white, we should see non-white characters all over the place, in books, movies, etc. People wonder why black Americans seem unable to assimilate, to adopt the majority culture. "Why do they remain apart?" I think your post explains it pretty well. We portray the national culture as not inclusive, so how do we expect non-white people to feel included?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Nov 6, 2015, 03:48 PM

2. I find this interesting

As a retired teacher coming from a school district with a racially diverse group of kids, this was one of my complaints about teaching literature. And when you have a set of State mandates about what pieces of literature have to be taught and when, it leaves very little room for creativity in the classroom. Every English Lit teacher scours the library for something that has Black characters and we all roll our eyes at the same old stories with the same old white characters that kids hate.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sat Nov 7, 2015, 08:26 AM

3. I sell vintage and used childrens books,

and I seldom find books that make people of color human. While there may be diversity in the faces illustrated, the books are written from the standpoint of white culture, and embody the usually white adult authors' concepts of childhood. The idealized family in the Dick and Jane world was never realistic for white children, but just imagine a black child trying to identify with the characters when black faces were simply painted on that very same perfect privileged family. Their blackness, their culture and identity were totally ignored. Moreover, the D&J world went from all white to perfect racial harmony overnight.

Even in the 70s and 80s when many more black-inclusive books were available, the majority seemed to be written for white children and still reflected the white cultural perspective, tainted by stereotypes and portrayals of black children as being the same as white middle class children with no blackness allowed. As the author of the article in the OP stated: "The world is diverse; we need books that tell us the truth about ourselves, and ones that that don’t replicate the facile lies and erasure present in centuries of literature."

It is dismaying that there are still so few children's books available that are black culturally conscious. Children have an absolute right to books that reflect their image; without that how do they know that they are valued in society?


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sat Nov 7, 2015, 11:52 AM

4. One of the other things I find disturbing

Is when there ARE books or comic books--with an African American child as the protagonist, it's often NEWS. You'll see it analyized and reviewed--sometimes gushed over, ala the "whitesplaining" video---kind of depressing.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sat Nov 7, 2015, 02:27 PM

5. I bought this one for my daughter

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kwassa (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 8, 2015, 11:31 AM

8. I know what to get 2 brown girls

for Xmas and myself

I had to know more and found this video of Woodson giving moving and hilarious readings from the book. I loved it because she relays some memories of growing up in the era communicated so well that I'd love my brown girls to feel.

Thanks, Kwassa!

https://

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Nov 8, 2015, 11:18 AM

6. This is precisely why I so appreciate

Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me because it's partly written to his young son.

But on a brighter note, I also love fantasy works and still read children's stories. The most recent one is a modern day myth, The Nutmeg Princess by Richardo Keens-Douglas, set on the Isle of Spice - Grenada.

This summer, a sculpture honoring the story was placed in Grenada's underwater sculpture park. She's lovely and will become even more beautiful as coral and algae grow upon her.

http://caribbeancats.org/index.php/nutmeg-princess/

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Kind of Blue (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 8, 2015, 11:27 AM

7. That is stunningly, gorgeous

I still read children's stories too--mostly Neil Gaiman, but I will look into this one -- looks like my cup of tea!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 8, 2015, 11:33 AM

9. Gawd, I love Gaiman!

Woo, just got chills just thinking about his books

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Kind of Blue (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 8, 2015, 01:24 PM

10. Oh I know right?

An author I can read forever-kids stories, shorts stories. Collaborations, graphic novels, regular novels--I feel like a gushing fan girl when I start on him

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 8, 2015, 02:04 PM

11. Yup! There's one called buckingham miracleman

that I'm interested in, particularly because I think I saw some PoC kids in it.
I read this wonderful article, praising him for including PoC or what the writer calls the "Neil Gaiman effect."
http://redsofaliterary.com/2014/03/02/notes-from-the-armchair-8-the-neil-gaiman-effect/

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Kind of Blue (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 8, 2015, 03:09 PM

12. Great article!

And I noticed how he does that--Shadow, in American Gods for instance, clearly is not white, and while is never identified as AA, it's alluded too toward the end with references to his mother suffering from sickle cell disease. He also flipped the scrip and identified a charector as "a white woman" rather than making "white" any more default in that book than he had too.

And Anansi is a great character--a sympathetic trickster God NOT out of a Nordic or Greek pantheon

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread