David sent me a link to this infographic illustrated by Tina Kugler this morning.
These are sad statistics. Even more interesting is the comparison between the percentages about the demographic and the percentage that wrote them:
“Of the 3,600 books the Cooperative Children’s Book Center reviewed in 2012:*
– 3% were about Africans/African Americans; 1.8% were written by Africans/African Americans
– 1.5% were about Latinos; 1.6% were written by Latinos
– Less than 1% were about American Indians; less than 1% were written by American Indians
– 2% were about Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans; 2.3% were written by Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans“
Now let’s compare these literature percentages with their actual population in the United States.
According to Wikipedia and the 2010 U.S. Census:
Only 72.4% of the United States is White or European American. NOT 93%!!!
12.6% is African American (3% of books are about African Americans)
5% Asian American/Pacific Islander (2% of books are about Asians)
The underrepresentation of African Americans and Asians in Children’s Books compared to population is pretty distressing.
While Native Americans are only .9% of the population, this still leaves 2,932,248 people underrepresented in children’s books and literature in general.
And let’s not forget: 6.2% of the United States identified as “Some Other Race” and 2.9% as “two or more races,” no doubt they are almost never represented.
The saddest to me is the lack of Native American representation. They are so largely forgotten already, even in adult literature (the only Native American authors who even come to mind immediately are Sherman Alexi and Phillip Deloria).
It reminds me of a campaign that was started a little while ago in collaboration with Shepard Fairey, which I saw in New York City last summer:
There are without question several social and economic factors that go into this discrepancy, including the obvious fact that becoming a children’s book writer is usually a career path that requires some funds to support it initially, which certain races and families are more inclined to have. At the same time, those who do have the privilege of writing books that young minds consume should be cognizant of the lack of diversity in the industry and actively make efforts to fix it. While I understand it is easier to write about what you know, no one is limited to writing stories about their own race.
Parents should also make conscious efforts to purchase a myriad of books that respectfully represent different types of Americans so their child can be exposed to all of the people in this country. If people don’t buy books about non-white subjects, they will stop publishing them.
Just something to think about.