#1000BlackGirlBooks 11-Year-Old Jamaican Girl Starts Literary Movement

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Marley Dias is an 11-Year-Old Jamaican girl who is tired of reading of white boys and dogs so she set herself on a path to find one-thousand books portraying black girls as  the lead character.

The New Jersey resident who is originally from Philadelphia, kicks off the #1000BlackGirlBooks drive in late 2015 because she believes there are books portraying black girls as lead; she just hasn’t found them yet.

The idea was born to little Dias over dinner one night. She complains to her mom about the books required for her to read in school not containing people who ‘look like her’.

Reporting to a media house in Philly, Dias says, “I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,”, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series.

Her mother then asked her ”What are you going to do bout it?”. And she proudly discloses to her, she would start a specific book drive where girls are the lead characters, not background or minor roles. She creates the hashtag #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign in November 2015.

“My parents have taught me the value of reading and self-love though books that have characters that look like me and talk like me,” Dias said in a statement. I want to make sure other black girls around the world can see and love themselves, too, through these books. I know there’s a lot of black girl books out there, I just haven’t read them.”

Dias tells NJ Advance Media on Jan. 29. “When you see a character you can connect with, if they learn a specific lesson, you’re more likely to apply that to your life,”

Speaking on the issue Marley’s mom, Janice Johnson Dias says the books will be donated to Retreat Primary School in St Mary Jamaica. Janice who grew up in Jamaica says although she doesn’t need identification because she knows who she is as a black woman and has lived in an all black community, it’s not the same for little Dias, who is growing up in a country that has only twelve point six  percent of black people.

“I didn’t need identification, or I didn’t desire it because I grew up in an all-black country. She’s not growing up in an all-black country; she’s growing up in a fairly white suburb, in a country that only has 12.6 percent of blacks. For her, identification is a bigger deal. For young black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them — to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they have or their friends have.”

After she has solved the problem of finding books portraying black girls as lead, the 11-year-old still has a number of social media projects she needs  to handle. She leads a social media support group called ”BAM” which she started with two friends. BAM is a social support network for adolescent girls organized through the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, established by her dad, Johnson Dias.

Over the past year, Dias wrote a proposal herself to a Disney Friends For Change grant, which she received. She has also traveled to Ghana to help serve food to orphans.

Using social media to highlight an ongoing problem between black children of literary age, the hashtag #1000BlackGirlBooks reveals the under-representation of minorities.

Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) gathered data revealing the following summation, from 1994 through 2012, only about ten percent of children’s books featured non-white people.

In 2014, the first ten percent increased to fourteen percent which seems like good news. This is based on the three-thousand and three-thousand-five-hundred books under review annually.

Some disturbing facts about many books with cultural characters were not written by members of that culture providing a distorted view of what representation of a particular culture should be.

CCBC findings in 2014 reports three-hundred-and-ninety-three, 393, books being published about people of color. Out of these, two-hundred-and-twenty-five were authored or illustrated by people not from the culture focused in their book. How does one write a book about a culture it does not originate from.

Miss Dias will be able to help little black girls yearn for more ”black reading material” to enable them discover stories relative to their culture; all thanks to Dias’s mom.

Her drive for #1000BlackGirlBooks gets strong support on social media resulting in contributions from readers, authors as well as a publisher.

Marley gets her national attention on the hit show Ellen Degeneres after her appearance which aired on Wednesday. She gets a laptop since she’s a writer and dreams of being a magazine editor when she grows up. She also gets ten-thousand dollars from Shutterfly to purchase more books.

Her twitter handle is a wonder how an eleven year old can be so smart. Marley is a smart girl, Be like Marley.




Photo Credit, nj.com

Wendiva Blaze

Wendiva Blaze

I'm just a vibe you won't find anywhere else. That Sanguine Sapio-sexual. I Love 360nobs Pop Culture Journalist/ Publicist/ Presenter

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