I’m shy but opinionated (what a contrast!). My blog is Reading in Color and it’s dedicated to reviewing YA books about people of color.
Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
I’m still young, but racism has affected me. I’ve only faced (to my knowledge) a few instances of racism, but those incidents have remained with me and I think they will always. The incidents hurt at first, especially when I first knowingly experienced racism at the age of 7 or 8. A boy started talking with lots of slang and almost like a hillbilly. I asked why he was talking like that and he said that was how black people talked. I said that wasn’t true and he said it was, that all Black people, including myself, talked like that and we were all stupid. Other comments have been more subtle like getting me or my parents confused with another black girl and her parents, being expected to act a certain way or be good at certain things, and so many other stories.
Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work?
I started my blog not so much because of racism, but because I was tired of not seeing books with more faces of color on the covers, written by authors of color. I wanted to start reading more books about people of color and promoting the authors. So it wasn’t really racism, more like unintentional ignorance (does that make sense?) or naïveté.
In what way can literature/art be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?
Literature can be used to combat racism and promote tolerance simply by educating or informing. When writing a YA book about a teen who lives in another country or has a different culture, the author can share details about the culture/country and take a big step toward educating people, which helps stop racism. Racism after all is only ignorance. For example, in Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger I learned so many things about the Sikh culture. I really think that if everyone read this book, those few who think that all people who wear turbans are terrorists will stop thinking that. They will see the silliness of that way of thinking. Or another book that I think helps combat racism is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I really had no idea how tough Native Americans on reservations have it. I have so much respect for this culture and I really wish more books were written by/about Native Americans and their plight on reservations. White Americans stole their land. They should at least offer more help to Native Americans living on reservations or give the land back. Not just sit back and do nothing!
"Last, but not least all teens of color out there are my inspiration. I do what I do because I want all teens of color out there to see themselves in books. I want them to know that they aren’t alone in searching for books about people who look like them, I too am searching. I want to spotlight new up and coming authors of color writing for us teens. I want to create a change, to show the publishing companies that we want to see more YA books about people of color with colorful faces on the cover! I hope other teen book bloggers join me in reading and reviewing more books about people of color, we especially need more teens of color to be blogging!" (comes via Reading in Color, Arianna’s blog)
Arianna’s recommended reading list (originally posted at Justine Larbalestier’s blog):
For guys: Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, The Hoopster by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos, Tyrell by Coe Booth, The Making of Dr. Truelove by Derrick Barnes, First Semester by Cecil Cross, Sammy & Julianna in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, The Contender by Robert Lipstye, Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
For girls (chick lit, cliques or about girls dealing with cliques): Hotlanta series by Denee Miller & Mitzi Miller, It Chicks series by Tia Williams (more substance than GG), the Del Rio Bay Clique series by Paula Chase (no spoiled rich kids in these books), the Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston, Honey-Blonde Chica series by Michelle Serros, Haters by Alicia Valdes-Rodriguez
Sci Fi: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott, The Black Canary by Jane Louise Curry, 47 by Walter Mosley, The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okroafor-mbachu (check out another one of her books Zarah the Windseeker), Rogelia’s House of Magic by Jamie Martinez Wood, City trilogy by Laurence Yep
Historical Fiction: Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis, Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, The New Boy by Julian Houston, Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons by Ann Rinaldi, Copper Sun by Sharon Draper, Fire from the Rock by Sharon Draper, Wolf by the Ears by Ann Rinaldi, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson (series) (all AA, some biracial. I would love to have suggestions of Latino/Asian/Native American historical fiction)
Native Americans: The Brave and The Chief (both by Robert Lipstye), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Latinos: Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa, White Bread Competition by Jo Ann Yolanda Hernandez, Estrella’s Quinceanera by Malin Alegria (she has other really good books), La Linea by Ann Jaramillo, What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (she has many, many books and they’re all fantastic! really, read any of them), Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra, The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees, Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer, The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales, Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (series)
Asians: Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger, Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos, Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, Sold by Patricia McCormick, Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa-Abdel Fattah, First Daughter:Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins (read any of her books they’re great! ), Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith, The Fold by Anna Na, Good Enough by Paula Yoo
African American: Kendra by Coe Booth, The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake, Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia, Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson, My Life as A Rhombus by Varian Johnson, Romiette & Julio by Sharon Draper, When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright, Hip Hop High School by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, Drama High series by L. Divine, Hot Girl by Dream Jordan, Can’t Stop the Shine by Joyce E. Davis