Imagine yourself as a child reader. In almost every single book you read, the main character is a BOY. Boy after boy after boy. You search and search and finally, you find one that stars a girl. She’s feeble and helpless and her story is about how she manages to get a BOY to help her.
Wouldn’t you say, “This is ridiculous! We need stories about girls! ALL KINDS of girls, girls in the fullness of their humanity!” (Okay, maybe if you were a child reader, you wouldn’t say that last phrase–but you’d feel it.)
And then someone you respect and admire says, “Don’t be silly. There are girls in the newspapers and on TV. Just go look at them there. Literature is to expand the mind. You have to have the imagination to put yourself into boy shoes.”
Well, yes. And girls and women have done this–have had to do this–for centuries, and it is indeed mind-expanding. But as a female reader, I am grateful for books like yours that feature strong, quirky girls. And other books about misfit girls, improbable girls, brave and crazy women.
No, I take that back: Grateful isn’t quite the correct word. I *am* grateful, but I also have the RIGHT to expect such books. Because one of literature’s most important functions is to reflect the world, and the world is full of people who are not boys.
When I say that we need diverse books, that is what I mean. We need books that show people in the fullness of their humanity. ALL KINDS of people. EVERY kind of person. Including queer black boys.
Not on tv or in the papers. In BOOKS. In literature. In art that lasts and matters.
Humbly but firmly,