Inspired by Sue Lyons-Joell's survey of diversity in parenting magazines, published on antiracistparent.com, I decided to do my own little survey of my son's books.
I sorted his picture books, most of them geared towards toddlers, into piles:
- a pile of books featuring animals or objects (no people)
- a pile of books which include "visible minorities" (subjective definition, of course)
- a pile of books which incorporate white people or ambiguous/unknown people race-wise
- a pile of Dr. Seuss books only
- a pile of books in the Czech language (I am raising my son to be bilingual and bicultural).
Here are the results:
"Jay", who is nearly twenty-months old, has a total of 52 books.
Of those, 16 books focus on objects and animals, excluding humans all together.
9 are Dr. Seuss books, which incorporate humans that are either white or ambiguous-looking. One of Jay's Dr. Seuss book, My Many Colored Days, is quite problematic in that it equates colors, used to describe groups of people, with negative emotions and stereotypes. I blogged about this issue here. That book's got to go!
4 books are Czech picture books. Three of them include white people only (the Czech Republic does happen to be 97% white) and one has one page portraying a father and child of color (They are Roma). This page unfortunately reinforces stereotypes about the Roma people, because the two are shown dancing around the fire; a sort of primitive, tribal image very much removed from reality. This is something I hope to discuss and balance out with other portrayals when my son gets older.
10 books include "visible minorities", whether in drawings or photographs. However, none of my son's books has a person of color as a central character or depicts solely people of color.
Next, 12 books focus on whites or racially ambiguous people, whom I did not count as "visible minorities".
To sum up, only 19% of the total of my son's books and 28% of all his books featuring people, include "visible minorities", and 0% focus solely on people of color.
Time to go change that ASAP!