The #LargeFears Twitter chats began in December, 2012. The name #LargeFears pays homage to Large Fears by Kendrick Daye and Myles Johnson while also calling out the large fears many of us have about diversity. The chats are moderated by myself and Libertad and Guinevere Thomas and each month we invite a guest or two to serve as host for the chat. Our most recent chat, led by librarian Angie Manfredi, was about diversity and children’s book awards. (I’ll Storify in the next couple of days.) Angie is highly respected in the children’s literature community because she speaks through honesty and compassion. The discussion she led attracted a vast array of participants ranging from those on selection committees to reviewers, bloggers, librarians, editors and authors. And most all were white.
While we’ve built a small, diverse group of regulars, what I and the other moderators are noticing is that the ethnic make up of most of the participants correlates to that of the host(s). Which means when we had Sonia Rodriguez leading the chat on poetry, most of our participants were Latinx with very few African Americans or Asian Americans chiming in. It seems that whites tend to be more likely to show up in our little space, interacting as an ally or as an interested party. From these limited observations, it seems we marginalized people are not being allies for or taking interest in each other’s conversations and I don’t think this phenomenon is unique to our Twitter chats.
There are so many ways our stories of discrimination, decolonization and invisibility
intersect. It seems obvious that there is power in numbers, strength in a unified voice. Are we still proving who has suffered the most? Are we colonized to the point of only being concerned about me and mine? Do we carry as many discriminatory and hateful judgments about ‘others’ as does the dominant group?
Can we, should we be building bridges with each other or is it all about building bridges with the dominant group?
Isn’t there room for everybody at the table?
The hardest thing to realize in fighting for diversity in children’s books is realizing the fight isn’t just about the books, that it’s a fight to change society.