We received these questions posted as a comment on the Black Kids Read Facebook page. This blog entry is written as an open message to the poster, Tiffany Ellington, and also to like-minded people.
Tiffany, your questions are good ones, unfortunately you are asking the wrong people. You should ask the publishers at Simon & Schuster why they do not publish more books that feature Black children and families as protagonists. Ask the publishers at Random House why they don’t have more African American authors and illustrators among their list of published authors. Ask the publishers at HarperCollins why only 3% of the books published in 2013 were about Black people. Ask the people at Scholastic why of the few books they do publish, which feature Black people, they give us self-hating and false images of Blacks as happy slaves.
Black people have for centuries, shamelessly begged white people for decent treatment: to not be enslaved, to not be murdered by police, to not be miseducated, to not have our image desecrated, and yes to not be ignored in children’s books. Unfortunately, all the available evidence shows that white people are either unable or unwilling to treat us with the requested decency.
So here we are. I am working peaceably at home; minding my own business; and trying to produce good quality books for Black children. Then you come along trolling my page harassing me. Tiffany, I have a question for you. Why do you hate Black people? Why does it bother you that we want to have something nice for ourselves? If you don’t hate Black people, then show us by your actions. Here are three things that you can do.
- Purchase 10 copies of Black Kids Read books and mail one book to each of ten elementary schools in your local area with a letter demanding that they make these books and others like them available to their students.
- Get 10 friends to commit to doing the same.
- Identify 10 independent African American authors or illustrators and thank them for committing themselves to the task of providing high quality books to Black children.
And as always... Have Fun!
Jomo W. Mutegi, Ph.D. is an author of science-related children’s books, and an Associate Professor of Science Education at the Indiana University School of Education in Indianapolis. He is also a member of the (ES)2 Research Program. To learn more about Dr. Mutegi’s books, visit www.JomoMutegi.com.