Last night, I rushed home to watch the Oscars live broadcast.
I was not following the news or discussion over the “All White Nominees” situation. So, it was a surprise to me that not a single person of color (brown, yellow, black, what have you) walked onto the stage to receive the golden statuette.
This morning, I woke up still pondering: hmm… what happened? Was there not a single worthwhile movie featuring or made by people of color during the year 2014 that warranted some recognition? If not, what happened? Were there no creative or talented POC in the entertainment industry or were they not given the opportunities by the studios and the gatekeepers to showcase their talents? If they never got to be SEEN, how could they have been nominated, or have won? Then there’s the question of what happened with Selma and its actors, director, and writer?
The Youth Media awards press conference each year (where Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Printz, etc. awards are announced) has been dubbed, “The Academy Awards of Children’s Literature,” as if that’s high praise and what we children’s lit folks should strive to be. At this point, I don’t want my beloved children’s literature field to be linked with the Academy Awards, especially after a strong showing of diverse topics, characters, and creators this year: a proud moment for many practitioners and champions of children’s lit.
And yet, the heated debate sparked by Malinda Lo’s and Roger Sutton’s recent blog posts (Lo’s Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews and Sutton’s Are We Doing It White?) reveals that even in the wake of a year of diverse winners, the children’s literature industry still has a long way to go in diversifying on all fronts, especially the gatekeepers (editors, publishers, reviewers, librarians, etc.) and their views.
I have been taking notes on others’ and my own thoughts and will post my reactions and observations in a few installments. Lots of soul searching and perspectives changing on-going in my head!