“But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature. I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature. I started to write about things I recognized.
Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature. ”
This problem exists in television and literature (as someone who spends a lot of time with those media), where, growing up, I also white-washed characters in my imagination, until I read a description that they were black or any other race other than white. We saw this recently after The Hunger Games film came out and there was so much backlash over the casting of Rue, who was described in the books as black; but many people automatically made her white in their heads so it was “an outrage” or “shocking” or perhaps, positively, “progressive” that they cast her as black, despite her character being black in the books. This right here is the power of lack of representation, you affect the minds of both the “minority” and the “majority” until they only see, as this speaker put it, a “single story.”
Read the rest of the transcript or watch the video. Glad I stumbled across this tonight.