AS WELSH people, the Welsh language is a gift for everyone in Wales, of every colour, every ethnicity, every religion, and I hope that my books can serve to diversify Welsh literature enough for it to reflect the gloriously multicultural country I was born into.
Research has shown that we acquire learned behaviours such as racism and unconscious bias by as early as nursery school age. This means that by as young as three years old, we already know our place in society
By the age of three, I already knew to stand at the back of the queue when lining up at school, or that I would never be picked for anything out of a room full of pupils raising their hands.
Such learned behaviours are unconsciously taught to children by society and the environment around them, and most certainly in the books that they read.
This is not new information, we already know the damaging effects that racism has on a child’s self-esteem, their perception and understanding of the world, and the damaging knock on effects racism has in society today, proven by experiments such as “The Doll Test” (Brown Vs Board of Education) in the 1940’s.
There is often a misconception that books with Black characters are only meant for Black children (and too bad if there aren’t any). But that simply is not true. White children need to read books with Black characters if we are to counteract the learned behaviour of white privilege and advantage.
Choosing not to include any “diversity” in a children’s book collection means that children don’t get a realistic education about the world. It also continues the current discourse that Black and brown people cannot author or appear in literature, and therefore, academia.
I believe that through education, along with positive and progressive role models small changes can be made to provide long term results for a more inclusive society.
Through authoring my two books, I am hoping to kick start this process. My book Outstanding breaks stereotypes about what Black women can be, and my book Your Hair is Your Crown, is based in Cardiff where I studied as a teen and later on in life.
Both books have been translated into multiple languages including Welsh, and are aimed at improving Black children’s self esteem and aspiration, while promoting the beauty of Wales as a multicultural society.
Outstanding will be available to buy on January 22.
Your Hair Is Your Crown will be released February 10.