Recently I read a blog post by Shannon Hale about Varian Johnson's The Great Greene Heist and the #greatgreenechallenge, a movement asking bookstores to support diversity in children's literature by encouraging sales of this particular new release. All the push on social media recently for diversity in literature made me take notice, but my approach to most ideas trending on the internet is to be cautious.
Internet trends, particularly discussions based on controversial topics,
tend to be electronic screaming matches wherein different factions proclaim
their viewpoint to be correct in every possible way, and anyone who disagrees
is labeled with various monikers that are synonyms for "evil moron."
The vehemence of the arguments and the lack of charity in some of the exchanges
are disturbing, and totally ineffective for constructive debate. I respect Ms.
Hale so I decided to read Johnson’s book and do some reading on the topic of
In reading some of the recent articles, I have yet to come across those
nasty exchanges, though I haven’t followed the tweets about it. I was struck by
Walter Dean Meyer’s New York Times article
from March 15, 2014, where he relates how he realized as a black teen that the
books he read were not about people like him, and stopped reading. Even more
disturbing, actually mind-boggling to this white woman, is the story he relates of a
personnel manager having two equally qualified men, one black and one white,
apply for a chemist position. In the manager’s mind, the black man couldn’t
possibly be a chemist, despite his qualifications.
What is most encouraging to
me is Meyer’s conclusion, that we don’t need an increase in stories about
blacks as victims needing to overcome slavery or racism, but rather stories that
people of all colors can read about blacks (and other minorities) showing that minorities
can attain the same possibilities as any white child. Getting people to buy
such stories so that publishers will publish more of them is the motivation for
the #greatgreenechallenge, and I can endorse a movement that encourages writers
and publishers to publish stories where skin color doesn’t determine a person’s
potential in life. For my review of The
Great Greene Heist and how it represents diversity, check my blog later