Continuing last week’s conversation on being biracial or multiracial—in a video and link to an essay about census—we have a video looking back to the 2008 presidential campaign and a group of multiracial students at Rutgers:
Yesterday we posted a video on the frustrations of biracial people being put into little boxes. Taking a very different view is Michele Elam, with a thought-provoking article about the pitfalls of “mark one or more races” on the census.
On her blog, author Shannon Hale takes a look at the lack of girls in children’s movies, the limited roles they play, and an appeal to parents: take your sons to movies with girl heroes. The same goes for books and the same goes for other types of diversity: give the children you know books with heroes who don’t look like them.
Recently I was in Hawaii on vacation and one of the things I noticed right away was how Asians are the majority of the people living there. In the city of Honolulu on Oahu, street signs are in English and Japanese. Generally rice, and even miso soup, are served with all meals, including breakfast. I learned from attending a luau that immigrants from Japan, China, and the Philippines make up a big part of Hawaii’s cultural diversity. When I got back home, a quick web search revealed that Hawaii is the only state in the United States where whites are not the majority of the population.
These children, honestly answering questions about race and racism, illuminate some of the problems we have talking about race in America. We know that children as young as 6 months old respond to skin color, so when the kids at the beginning of the video don’t know the words race, ethnicity, or racism, that’s a problem: they don’t know how to address their own reactions and experiences. They’re not having the conversations they need to understand the complicated culture in which they live.
I LOVE the Olympics. I’ve spent many (er, too many) hours over the past week mesmerized by ice dancing, ski cross, super-giant slolom, half pipe. . . these athletes make it look like somebody literally turned off gravity in Vancouver for the week and the laws of physics no longer apply.
Still, it’s hard not to notice how white the US Olympic Team is. If this is a team sent to represent one of the most diverse countries in the world, well, it doesn’t look all that representative. Take a look at this year’s 218 Team USA members and you’ll see what I mean. I could count the number of African Americans on one hand. Out of 218! What about Latinos, Asian Americans? Some…but not that many.
This week we’re starting close to home: from the New York Times, an article on the lack of diversity at top New York City Schools—and a reminder that a lack of diversity doesn’t mean that everyone is white.
A long but very interesting paper looks at the role parents’ English ability plays in the juvenile justice system.
Welcome to Black History Month!
Heritage Months have their bad sides and good sides, but we’re starting out this week’s linkup with one of the good things to come out of Black History Month: The Brown Bookshelf‘s Twenty-Eight Days Later project, highlighting a Black children’s book author or illustrator every day in February. Check their blog for great contributors to the field. Today they’re talking with one of our own authors, Natasha Anastasia Tarpley. Shadra Strickalnd, Tony Medina, and Christine Taylor-Butler will be featured later in the month.
The number of children’s books featuring racial, ethnic, or cultural diversity has not kept pace with the growing diversity of the United States population. Census data from 2008 shows that 34% of the population is minorities. In contrast, the number of children’s books reflecting diversity is about 13% of the books published each year. Since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center started to keep statistics of children’s books published by and about people of color, I’ve watched this percentage inch up and down. But there has never been a significant improvement or decline.
It’s bitterly cold outside (at least here in New York), so stay inside and read! Here’s this week’s selection of articles and essays.
Last month we shared an Indian ad for White Beauty, a skin-lightening cream. Now, a study is highlighting the dangers of these types of products, many of which contain steroids or mercury. A NYTimes Op-Ed looks beyond the products and into the roots of their popularity with an exploration of colorism, the tendency to be biased towards people with lighter skin, even within one’s own racial or ethnic group.
It’s a couple years old (Bush was president, remember those years?), but Iranian American comedian Maz Jobrani still hits several nails on the head when talking about being Middle Eastern in America: