The arts, while having a long history with representation, have recently come under fire with the lack of diversity, most notably with the 2015 Oscars nominations. There’s been discussion among actors of boycotting the awards show to tell the Academy that those voices will not be diminished. But actors aren’t the only ones tired of the lack of diversity. When 11-year-old Marley Dias realized her fifth grade class was mainly reading books about “white boys and their dogs,” she got bored with them and wondered where the books with girls like her were.
“I understood that my teacher could connect with those characters, so he asked us to read those books. But I didn’t relate to them, so I didn’t learn lessons from those stories,” Marley told the Guardian in a recent interview.
So Marley decided to do something about her frustrations and hold a national book drive. She was looking for children’s books that featured black girls as the protagonist. Her goal was to raise the books and then take them with her and her mom to Retreat Primary and Junior School and Library in the parish of St. Mary, Jamaica, where her mom grew up. After taking to Twitter with #1000BlackGirlBooks and going on The Ellen Show, Marley received an outpouring of books and donations helping her to reach her goal.
Even though the book drive is technically over, you can still send books and/or donations to raise even more awareness about diversity in the arts. Marley plans to send the other books to schools around the nation.
To donate: GrassROOTS Community Foundation
59 Main Street, Suite 323 West Orange, NJ 07052
What are some of your favorite #1000BlackGirlBooks or other diverse books? What do you think of the lack of diversity in schools’ curricula?