Last week I went into my local Sams club in search of children’s books. I had spent the early part of the school year getting books that would help us succeed with homeschooling. We got brainquest books for each child’s grade and everything in between for math and language comprehension, even carton-like stories that my daughter loves.
Despite all the purchase, I left the store feeling empty. With the exception of a Kobe Bryant book, none of the books represented me or my children. There were no story books or stories, no workbooks or brain-quest type materials, not in math or language, early-child or middle age reader, or even non-fiction materials that represented what it means to be black or brown at this present time in our country. They say representation matters. It matters not only at the ballot box but also where we eat, pray or shop. That day, I left the store making a solemn promise to myself that I would do my part to work to tell stories our way. It’s the impetus behind encouraging my daughter to write stories the way she wants them told to her. Its the fuel that keeps me writing these keep lists because someone, no matter how small, needs to create a list of what makes us who we are, a list of our existence, a list of our dreams, our hopes, our impediments, the hard, but true and lasting truth of what it means to be black or brown in today’s America while raising children. Representation is why I write everyday.
I write so that little black and brown kids can believe in their abilities and dreams, whether it’s flying kites or making scary monsters. Adults too can dream even if is through the lens of children. I write for little brown and black kids everywhere and the adults also so we never forget our worth or what it means for be young, or old, gifted and black. I write because writing, especially our stories, are the measures of our lives. A gathering of our wisdom, our way, in words that make sense to us and our children is a necessity for today. I write because our stories, our experience are enough. Even if only one person reads whatever we write, that’s enough. Our stories, our language when it is represented is force, stunning forceful language full of audacity, clarity and wit.
Today I went back to the local sams club and lo and behold, our stories were everywhere. Our authors were represented and I felt like I was finally seen and heard by the world especially Sam’s club. Thank you to who ever fought for this to happen. I bought all the books i didn’t have in my collection because I wanted Sam’s club to know that black and brown books matter and black and brown people have purchasing power too. We need representation not just at the ballot boxes but at our stores too. Our stories matter and so keep fighting and insisting that we are represented. Representation matters. Keep seeking it everywhere including and most definitely, the places where we eat, pray and shop.