Friday, February 7, 2014

Post script to yesterday's entry

Roger Sutton pointed out that several African-American men have won Caldecott honors. I unintentionally neglected to include these in my round-up of non-white authors and illustrators who have been awarded Caldecott or Newbery honors. 

Sure enough, a look through the list shows that in addition to the medals awarded to Jerry Pinkney and Leo Dillon who, with his wife Diane, was awarded the medal twice, Caldecott honors have gone to African-American artists nineteen times (I think that's about right). These nineteen honors were awarded to nine artists (five to Jerry Pinkney). All men. 

So here's another question. Where are all the female African-American artists?

On a different note, someone linked to my "Why Are they Always White Children" post on her(?) tumblr page. She mentioned that she is just a few years out of library school, pretty new to children's librarianship and only recently learned about the Belpré and CSK awards. Add library schools to the list of groups that need to step up. Given that the likelihood the profession will become significantly diverse in the future is a slim one, white library school students need to learn about multicultural literature and need to learn how to talk about race. 

I remember being in a multicultural children's literature class and it was the one class where discussions rarely lasted long or went anywhere. I think it's because a lot of (most?) white people are uncomfortable talking about race and ethnicity. I'm using the word "race" but mean anyone who is not white of European descent. Better to remain silent than to say the wrong thing? Or maybe there just isn't enough knowledge, experience or interest to create an environment where real conversations about this topic occur? Perhaps some folks do believe we are a "post-racial" society, and that we don't really need to talk about racial and cultural differences. It is uncomfortable to talk about race, but the alternative is to continue ignoring its importance and doing a disservice to the populations we work with.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, I think white people frequently feel discomfort and defensive about discussions of race and ethnicity, at least in adults. So the discussions stop before they start as people begin to get edgy or feel that people of color want to attack and/or make them feel guilt. We are not "post-racial" and we need to talk things out. Any psychiatrist will tell you the things we repress are the things that damage us the most.