I have grown weary of this repeated experience with my daughter: finding a book that represents me or my child, checking out the book at a library or purchasing from a bookstore, and then finding out subsequently that it was written by an author who "traveled once to X country and picked up some language," who "once knew someone who did X tradition," who "adopted a child from X country," or worse, had no connection whatsoever aside from a strong urge to pass off cultural authenticity without question.
I don't care how dear and lauded the work is, or how famous or talented the author. It's like drinking water you thought was fresh only to find out it was someone else's backwash. It's a betrayal every time I intimately share a story with my daughter only to find out later that it was not authentic. I want more from our #ownvoices. This does not mean that talent is inconsequential. It means that it's disappointing and disingenuous when talent does not match authenticity.
Yes, I can Google search the author before check-out. Of course, we all can easily Google, even while chasing a toddler at a bookstore. But the fact is, I shouldn't have to chase the cultural credentials of an author--which usually aren't considered credentials and hence usually not explicitly written in authors' bios--while I'm chasing my toddler at an establishment. It's time for cultural competency and authenticity to be a mainstay in authors' and illustrators' credentials, and for authors to explicitly express these if they are to write books that represent culturally diverse characters.
Instead of simply complaining, I've decided to do something. I've compiled a booklist of authors and illustrators my daughter and I have enjoyed whose heritage matches their beautiful work authentically--those who tell their own stories. I've included this ongoing list of love and literary shouts here.
3/3/2021 06:58:49 am
We definitely have our own voices, that much is for sure. I think that it is important that we try to harness what little emotion we have to make the world a better place. I think that you and your daughter should try the same. No matter how vague the connection is, it is still better than not having anything at all. You have to use this time to better yourself in whatever way you can do it. Of course, this is just my opinion.
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