For Father’s Day, we treated my husband to Hibachi in one of the Atlanta suburbs. As we sat waiting on drinks and for other parties to join our table, my 8-year-old daughter turns and asks, “Mommy, is it possible for African-American parents to have white children?”
I sat confused by the question and responded with my usual (for this kid anyone) response of “why are you asking that.” She said, “never mind, no reason”. Well this got MY mind whirling because with my uber inquisitive youngster there is ALWAYS a reason.
I responded that to my knowledge, biologically, I did not know of any case but we could research it (she complains that I tell her to research things a lot). But, I also pointed out that any ethnicity could adopt kids so African-American parents could adopt a Caucasian child that way. Conversation ceased soon after because appetizers arrived but it did not stop by brain from whirling and my eyes from roving.
Fast forward about 25 minutes later, after our Hibachi production (because really, isn’t that what it is), I heard loud childlike laughter from another table near us and saw it: two little Caucasian children sitting with an African-American family. I turned to my daughter and stated, “families look many ways. Those children could be friends of the family or because I believe I know that family – they could be their foster children. Let’s look it up.” My daughter’s response was short and sweet “oh.” No other questions, no arguments, just pure acceptance. And she continued eating.
Wow, so that was a lot to get to a point! If the world is filled with so much diversity, why can’t our books be. The writer in me immediately thought of how I could make this family’s story into a great picture book about different types of families. Also, why not have a MG story about an African-American family with an African American daughter and the family decides to adopt or foster a Caucasian child BECAUSE THIS HAPPENS – I’VE SEEN IT.
It is time to have stories that truly reflect the world around us. Hash tags are nice because #weneeddiversebooks and we need to recognize #ownvoices. But we have to add some physical actions beyond the hash tags. Write, edit, and submit. Your stories are needed.