Black Representation Matters In The Books Our Kids Grow Up With
For those of us who know how it feels to have our identities rarely reflected in mainstream society, it's a joy when we do.
Representation does matter. Frankly, it's ludicrous to me that anyone would say otherwise.
But of course, there are those who believe that issues concerning racial identity are unimportant. They insist that the calls for greater BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) representation in books or on television are pointless whines from folks of colour who are unnecessarily hung up on race.
As the author of a children's book that features a young black boy named Riley who discovers that he can indeed be anything, I know firsthand just how impactful it is for children of colour to see images that reflect their identity.
But as a woman of colour, I've always recognized the significance positive cultural representation — or perhaps, more specifically, the impact of not having that representation. Because, as my Jamaican mother would say: "He who feels it, knows it."
In my early days at school in the U.K., I was exposed to books including Meg and Mog and Funny Bones, and as I got older, I was introduced to the works of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. But I never saw any black characters in the books I read at school.
I know that history lessons in high school included topics such as the Second World War and the Battle of Hastings. But black history made no appearance in my school's curriculum.
Fast-forward to adulthood, specifically parenthood, and I know how it felt to have my young children start making obser