Diversity is a must!
As we all lead busy lives I am reminded that there are so many people in the world doing good things. Everything comes together the way it should and when possible we all (myself included) should support others who are sharing a positive message or doing something to enrich the fabric of this earth. By purpose I connected with Lisa Bowen who is a celebrated author, homeschooler and a fantastic Mom. She had an idea to promote the awareness of diverse books. To me, having diverse books in the mainstream is important not just for children of colour but for every child regardless of your ethnicity or skin colour because the more we are all exposed to variety and the different people that make up our communities, the faster diversity will become the norm in books and other forms of story telling.
In the US, only 22% of books contained people of colour as characters (CCBC, Cooperative Children’s Book Centre, 2016). I couldn’t even find a statistic for Canada. Children of colour (and adults for that matter) need to see ourselves reflected in books and on screens because those images allow us to further the idea that we are a relevant part of the story; not just a token or a stereotype. When children like my daughter and my sons, as they get older, see themselves in books and on screens they can relate to the characters and stories more. They are more engaged and better able to identify as part of the story. I mean they are already a part of the story that they are living day by day so why can’t it be reflected in other platforms? Diversity in toys and dolls is also important. I have shared this story more than once how excited Sheriauna was when she first saw the American Girl doll for this year. The dolls name is Gabriela McBride and she is a young Black girl with long curly hair. She looked closer to Sheriauna than all of the other dolls. However, Sheriauna wanted more...she not only wanted a Black doll that had similar hair to her; she also wanted a doll with a limb difference. There is a company that you may have seen through social media that has been creating differently abled dolls for young girls. Using dolls purchased by parents for their daughters, a parent can submit a request and if accepted the company will take the doll and modify it to resemble the limb of the little girl it was purchased for. This is awesome but I would like to challenge the companies that actually manufacture the dolls to create a variety of dolls with different skin tones, hair textures, physical features and abilities both visible and non-visible (it’s possible). These ground breaking ideas in 2017 can create dialogue between children and adults and children and their peers. Acceptance comes from understanding, understanding comes from awareness and learning valuable information.
Not every differently abled girl sits in a wheelchair or uses a walker, not every Black girl has long wavy hair or short “kinky” hair. When you don’t see something in the market what normally happens? You find a way to create it yourself and then hope that eventually others will support you, follow suit and/or catch up to the concept. This is what excites me and reassures me that good will continue to grow and spread globally beyond one persons reach. For example, there are people such as Kay Customs that makes a variety of dolls for girls and women of colour. Recently J.Crew featured a little boy who has a hand difference in a print ad. Diversity is a must and I am glad that diversity in many areas is becoming recognized and appreciated.