First of all, thanks so much for all the kind words and support you all showed concerning my blog post about the lack of black boys in middle grade literature. (Also, be sure to check out the comments—lots of good stuff there.) I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and while I don’t have a definitive solution to the problem, there are some things I know I can do to make a difference, such as:
1) Mentor more authors of color.
2) Mentor more authors writing about people of color.
3) Keep talking about the problem.
4) Continue to include diverse casts in my novels.
5) Buy books featuring people of color!
I’m not saying that my solutions are the only solutions, but I think they’re the best way for me to make a difference. I’ve already got two manuscripts lined up to read (one written by an African-American male, the other featuring an African-American male as the main character). Depending on my schedule, I hope to take on a few additional authors next year.
Finally, I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this, but I’m proud to be one of ten authors featured in the upcoming anthology, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, Sept 2013). The anthology, edited by author Mitali Perkins, has already been named a Junior Library Guild selection and will also be released as an audiobook. You can learn more about the anthology on Facebook and at the Candlewick website.
Here’s the full list of authors in order of appearance:
“Becoming Henry Lee” by David Yoo
“Why I Won’t Be Watching the Last Airbender Movie” by Gene Luen Yang
“Talent Show” by Cherry Cheva
“Voilà” by Debbie Rigaud
“Three-Pointer” by Mitali Perkins
“Like Me” by Varian Johnson
“Confessions of a Black Geek” by Olubemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
“Under Berlin” by G. Neri
“Brotherly Love” by Francisco X. Stork
“Lexicon” by Naomi Shihab Nye
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It was not a matter of accepting or distrusting what I read, however of feeling something new, of being influenced by something that made the look of the world changed.