Monday, May 31, 2010

White Mind

Thanks to Mama C who posted a link on facebook, here's an interesting take on white privilege in children's literature from children's book illustrator Anne Sibley O'Brien at Coloring Between the Lines:
So how can it be that in 2010, this is where we find ourselves:

*The percentage of published children’s books featuring characters of color is far smaller than - perhaps less than half - the percentage of people of color in the U.S. population, and the majority of these books are still created by white writers and illustrators.

*Many of the most popular book series, particularly in fantasy, have no significant characters of color at all.

*Cases of “whitewashing” book jackets, of editors requesting that an author erase a character’s ethnicity so that a book “can reach a larger audience,” of booksellers or librarians passing on certain titles because “our community doesn’t respond to those kinds of books,” suggest an assumption that white readers won’t respond to characters of color.

And so on.

I want to suggest a cause for the gap between our intention and the reality we’ve created: the patterns formed by white American socialization, which I’ll call White Mind.
Of course, the post is about more than children's books; that context, however, makes the concept of white privilege very accessible, I think.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I had a garage sale this weekend, M sold many of her young readers. I sold tons of childrens books, I even had a preschool teacher come and buy a huge stack for her school children. I figured we would be cleaned out at that point, there were five books left--all with the main character as a child of color. Was it intentional? Did she not "see" her students in them? Sad.