Friday, April 3, 2009

The race to characterize

MG/YA author and educator Mitali Perkins wrote an interesting article , posted on the School Library Journal's website about racial stereotypes in kid lit. She posts five questions teachers, librarians, readers and authors should ask themselves about a story, and provides real world specific evidence and examples to explain how to examine the answers to those questions.

What keeps her article from being yet another white-liberal-guilt-let's-learn-about-diverse-people-and-respect-them pontification is that she is a member of a racial minority, and instead of offering opinions and condemnation, she freely admits that she herself made these same mistakes and stereotypes in her own work, and with a character of her own heritage, no less.

That takes intestinal fortitude.

I highly recommend reading the article to any author. Take a long hard critical look at your work with these five questions, and open that dialog with yourself.

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