I am concerned. Actually, I am more than just concerned, I am really worried. I have just discovered that editors and agents will not consider a manuscript with a person of color as the main character(s) unless a person of color writes the book. That applies to fiction and non-fiction. I understand that we desperately need more people of color as authors, but how many books about truly important people of color will not get written now because the people who are intrigued enough to write about them are not necessarily people of color?
I was a reading specialist and spent twelve years in a high poverty, high minority school. We were 92 – 100 percent poverty and 96 – 98 percent African-American. Those children desperately needed to learn about the truly incredible people of color who have done so much throughout history.
I taught my students about Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, George Washington Carver, Ernest Just, and, of course, Martin Luther King, Jr. I taught them about the great women of color who changed our world for the better. Women like Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, and Madam C. J. Walker. I offered them the opportunity to see how people of color have influenced history, changed history, made history.
Some of the books I used were written by people of color, but many were not. Did it make those books less important? Less factual? Did the people contained in those books count for less, because their place in history was being shared by a person not of color?
I don’t have the answers. I don’t profess to be the expert. What I do know is that I want peoples of color’s stories to be shouted from the roof-top, from the mountain-top, so everyone will know them, their stories, and their places in history. Isn’t that the most important thing?