Long walks among nature, discussions over dinner with strangers, time to reflect and crystallize ideas.
These are the hallmarks of an artist or writer’s residency, whether it’s in France, Martha’s Vineyard, or far flung places of the earth.
A recent discussion at CAMAC, Centre d’ Art Marnay Art Centre prompted me to reflect on what divides us and what brings us together. My thoughts go to my new journey toward novel publication, my December 2016 visit to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American Art and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the dearth of children’s books reflecting the colors and beauty of all children.
As adults, we are a reflection of our upbringing, our choices, our education and our environmental decisions-where to live, who to associate with, where to work, how to develop our inner selves. Children don’t have that luxury. They are our most fragile and as a nation, need our energies directed toward lifting them up.
Yes, we need to know our tangled American history of divisiveness and racism, leaving scars all too visible today. However, for those of us who are people of color, enough with the recitations of history we know all too well. I am a forward-looker. I intend to solely contribute to positive stories of our past. Let us focus on recitations of positive contributions of people of color, all too often overlooked in history. I’ll point to the popular Hidden Figures film as evidence. It took decades for the story to surface. The theaters were filled with people of color, and people of all colors, in pure awe at what they were seeing on the screen. African American women calculating the math to send man to the moon.
This blog posting includes a few of the photos I took while visiting the National Museum of African American Art and Culture. My husband and I are now members and financial supporters. Who are these unsung heroes, you might ask? Who are they indeed. Why am I just learning of these trailblazers, you might ask? Publishers didn’t publish these stories. Hollywood gatekeepers didn’t greenlight these scripts.
Now, let’s think of children today who must scramble to find images in books that reflect their lovely faces. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center in Washington, D.C. has been keeping count. Despite population demographics, 73.3% of children books published in 2015 featured white images. Another 12.5% featured animals, trucks, etc., and the remaining percentage (26.3%) encompassed American Indians/First Nations, Latinx, Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans, and Africans/African Americans.
I am working towards a world of inclusion, and not as an afterthought. The publication world’s We Need Diverse Book movement is on the right track. I challenge publishers, educators, parents, and authors to uplift a child of color. We Need Diverse Books to save a child.