This week, I asked a co-worker of mine, father of two, to give me his opinion on my Kickstarter profile of my upcoming book. We have a solid working relationship, we often exchange parenting stories and run things past each other. So, he watched it and said, "this is great! I'm not your demographic but I will definitely support you!" I am not your demographic? After hearing those words, everything he said after that lacked intensity. It was as if my brain locked in on that moment, "I'm not your demographic", words, standing out, crystal clear, and the rest blurry, like taking a picture in portrait mode on an iPhone 8 or 10. He did go on to say, "you're a previously published author so speak to that, let your backers get to know you". Agreed, it was good feedback, but not for nothing, I still couldn't get his statement out of my head. I should have asked him to clarify his statement, but decided against it because I didn't want to draw attention to something that might be a misunderstanding. As a minority, I'm always double guessing myself when it comes to stuff like this. So instead, I returned to my desk to replay his words over and over again, and match it against his character and all the previous interactions we have had in the past, to help decide if I should be concerned or not (again, this is the kind of stuff only minorities debate).
But still what does that mean, I am not your demographic? I am not a data scientist, I don't run analytics for a living but I feel we have made great progress in getting a diversified set of children's book out into the marketplace. Myself , my two older daughters and generations before me, grew up with primarily white characters in books, movies, and television shows (I was so happy when on Little House on the Prairie, Hester Sue started working with Caroline at the restaurant!!). I don't recall any of my teachers reading any books to the class that wasn't about an animal or a white boy or girl. In high school, my social studies teacher suggested I read "Kaffir Boy" by Mark Mathabane. That didn't help, as if I didn't feel "put upon" by society enough. I get why Marley Dias started her campaign #1000blackgirlbooks. There was a need. Back then we didn't have a choice, major publishers weren't considering books of color (tan, black, brown, the rainbow). The one thing that I loved about picture books were the colors of the pictures, the expressions of the characters and the fun adventures they went on. But 9x out of ten, if the book contained a black character, it was often related to slavery, like no black kid had a happy life to write a picture book about! I mean how many times are we going to read Snowy Day, by Ezra Keats? Awesome book but is "anybody else out there, there, there?"
"I'm not your demographic", he said, but on the contrary you are. You are a parent, whose children would benefit from being read to just as mine would. Why can't the characters be different? Although you can't tell by looking on Instagram, the majority of children's book in our schools and libraries aren't that diverse. We are getting there but we have a long way to go.
Welp! Included below is the link to my Kickstarter, I would love your support! You do not have to be "in my demographic" <insert air quote finger motion> to enjoy this story, it is for children, all children, regardless of race, religion, or creed (whatever the heck creed is).