Unfortunately, many people were complaining but they weren't naming names or providing links.
This Book Is Creating a Space for Queer Black Boys." I had found out about the book from Edi Campbell, who had posted a link to the Huff Po article on Facebook.
And sure enough, a few minutes later, a link came up from Edi's Twitter account that referred to a blog post she had just made in response to the author who had made the outrageous claim. And Edi had the courage to name her by including a screen shot of the Facebook post that started it all.
It was Printz Award winner Meg Rosoff who had made the comment. Her claims are ridiculous, showing just how out of touch she is with children's and young adult literature. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that there are not "hundreds and ... thousands" of books about kids of color, certainly not Black boys, and even less so about queer Black boys. In fact, the only one I can think of Finlater by Shawn Stewart Ruff. And now, of course, Large Fears. Both books were self-published. What does this say about there being space for queer Black boys in the book industry?
So what Rosoff must really be saying is that "marginalized young people," including queer Black boys, should find themselves in White narratives. That is the epitomy of White privilege -- the notion that White perspectives are not only universal but should be. And she makes it even worse when she goes on to suggest that if queer Black boys want a mirror, they should turn to newspapers, magazines, and movies. Where... what? They'll see themselves bullied and brutalized at school? They'll see other Black boys being shot and killed by policemen? They'll see ordinary young Black men getting killed on the streets? Has Meg Rosoff been keeping up with current events?
Thanks to Edi Campbell for being courageous enough to name names in her swift response. And to author Justine Larbalestier, too, for calling out a fellow White author on Twitter. And to Ceilidh, co-editor of Bibliodaze, for responding this morning with her essay "The Unbearable Whiteness of Meg Rosoff." And to Debbie Reese for keeping us all up to date with the latest developments.
I wish I could say this was an isolated case, but it isn't. There are plenty of White authors, teachers, and librarians out there who spout off like this in private or even in public when there are only other White people around. It's time for White people to stand up to them whenever we hear comments like this -- not to shut them down necessarily but to engage them in discourse. They may not be open to listening, but there are likely others in the group who will be.
Meg Rosoff don't need our protection. She needs to be challenged, as editor Laura Atkins did so well in the Facebook exchange shown above. Too often we are willing to allow bigots to remain anonymous, or to write such comments off with "Well, you're entitled to your point of view." And that's that. Let's move on to talk about something else.
No, let's not change the topic. Let's talk about this now. And let's keep talking about it until there are so many books about queer Black boys that such conversations become unnecessary.
Update: Check out these great open letters to Meg Rosoff from Linda Sue Park, Kaye, and Sarah Hannah Gomez. And this insightful essay from Camryn Garrett.
Also, Edi has made the whole ongoing Facebook post that started it all public.