BIPOC Authors Should Be Included In Every School's Curriculum
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BIPOC Authors Should Be Included In Every School's Curriculum

In a country like the United States that is so culturally diverse, the education provided in schools needs to reflect that diversity.

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BIPOC Authors Should Be Included In Every School's Curriculum

In conversations about racial injustice and equality, equal representation of BIPOC is an issue that is brought up time and time again. Allies are encouraged to consume media created by BIPOC and educate themselves on BIPOC experiences in doing so. Recently, organizations like #DiversifyOurNarrative have been calling for schools to teach BIPOC literature in their English classes, noting that the most popular books that are taught in high school English classes are almost exclusively written by white authors. However, the idea that BIPOC literature needs to be integrated into school curricula has received some pushback.

Many critics of #DiversifyOurNarrative question what, exactly, is wrong with teaching books written by white authors and why schools should include certain books in English classes "just because" they were written by BIPOC. Of course, no one is denying that widely-read writers such as Shakespeare or Steinbeck have produced what we consider to be "classics." There's nothing wrong with reading white authors, but why shouldn't our school curricula be more diverse?

When BIPOC rarely see themselves in both the books they read and the authors who write those books, their education can feel alienating. Consider how it might feel to see that nearly none of the books that are considered "classics" are written by people who look like you, nor do they include characters whose experiences fully encapsulate your own. As an Asian American, I remember how validated I felt the first time I read literature written by an Asian American author in an English class. BIPOC deserve to be included and represented in their education, especially in a country that calls itself a melting pot.

Our education also needs to be more reflective of the full history of the United States. BIPOC and their experiences have always been in and a part of the United States, and it's important that students' educations show more than just a whitewashed narrative. The books that we read in our English classes can have a great impact on how students view the world. When we look at how most of our classic literature is written by white authors, we should also consider who and what defines a classic work. Integrating BIPOC literature into education also means redefining this idea of "classic" literature. Including BIPOC writers into school curricula can greatly impact a BIPOC student's view of themselves, but it's also important for students to be exposed to more diverse perspectives and learn about the experiences of different groups: this is an especially important step in educating students about racial injustice.

Some people have also argued that much of the literature taught in schools does, in fact, cover BIPOC experiences. However, the examples that are often given are books like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The issue with regarding these books as "great" representations of the Black experience, specifically, is that these books are still written by white authors. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad, but these novels ultimately still center around the white experience. In both books, the Black characters are only side characters that supplement a white main character's story. What #DiversifyOurNarrative is really calling for is inclusion of literature that fully centers around BIPOC characters. An accurate portrayal of the BIPOC experience requires a BIPOC writer: after all, who would know the Black experience better than a Black person?

In a country like the United States that is so culturally diverse, the education provided in schools needs to reflect that diversity. When BIPOC students deserve to see their own narratives in their education and in the books they read. Representing BIPOC in education benefits all students and is, ultimately, an anti-racist action.

If you're interested in taking action:

You can sign #DiversifyYourNarrative's petition here, and view their reading list or submit a recommendation for the reading list here.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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