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Blog: Blog2

Representation Matters

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

The plan today was to get to the bookshop early to clean and organize as Kids Market will start reopening this Monday June 1st. Instead I sat at my computer at home all day writing about race and representation, with the first crewed spaceflight from a private company, ever livestreaming in the background still.

Though I was glad to have witnessed this event, the language of pride, possession and dominance was hard to ignore throughout this #LaunchAmerica production. While SpaceX is working hard towards their ultimate goal of enabling human life on planets other than our own, major cities across the US are burning as people and law enforcement clash in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer.

A young black girl just 17 years old who witnessed the homicide, had the foresight and courage to record the event then shared it. For this she is now facing backlash on social media for not doing more. A minor, really a child, stood her ground against four adult police officers while they worked together to extinguish the life out of a man twice her size right in front of her. What more could she have possibly done without endangering her own life?

These major events, in conjunction with the current pandemic, warrant some pause and careful reflection on priorities and purpose.

I want to reflect on how unspoken rules and ideas about race burden us all, especially children, and what we can do about it.

I want to acknowledge and honour friends and customers both near and far, as well as many of our staff over the years, who I know work to counterbalance these inequities in their daily lives, whether it is by necessity or choice, whether it is in big or small ways.

I want to think on how I can better serve our readers. Both our readers of colour who understand innately how vitally important it is for a child to not only see her own face, skin colour, hair, language, class, family and life, reflected validated and honoured in the monument that is the printed book, but those of every other kind of child too. As well as the many readers who brave their own discomfort to ask for suggestions on books that will help introduce, explain, and normalize diversity to their children from a young age.

I want to acknowledge and appreciate all the moms who ask for suggestions on books for their boys to help encourage empathy, thoughtfulness, caring, and kindness. This certainly has to be a big part of the equation for a better world.

I want to remember with gratitude the special moments of tender feeling and moistening of the eyes that can only really happen in the presence of other total and utter bookfreaks: those of us who understand the importance of language and the subversive power of books, and especially books for children, to shape who we are and change this one planet we all share.

In writing through these reflections I want to reaffirm the value of these pure and beautiful connections, even when nothing else feels certain or clear. In writing through these reflections I want to renew my commitment to my work as an independent bookseller. This work that allows me to carve out a space, however small, where I grow and learn every day and have the opportunity to share my vision for the world through the magic of books and words.

Throughout the day I have rewritten and reread this post over and over again, like some kind of incantation towards a resolution. I have no concrete conclusion except that I am here and that I am with you. If you see me, thank you. And if you allow me to see you, thank you too.

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