We are oblivious.
We don’t always recognize certain hardships or triumphs because we aren’t exposed to them enough. One great way of exposing the youth to the reality of many people’s lives, and the adversity some people face, is by sharing stories with them that were written by somebody who is not a one sided white male.
Here at Ramapo High School, the English department has been making an effort to adjust the curriculum in terms of the diversity of the authors represented. However, that does not mean that our curriculum is, today, not flawed when it comes to diversity.
Last year, as a freshman, I read only one book, a play, that was not written by a white male—A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, an African-American woman. Mrs. Steier says that the play tells a story of poverty and struggle through racial diversity and sexism and at the same time, rewarding successes, something that most students here at Ramapo don’t experience on an everyday basis. It is stories like these that allow students to get a glimpse into what certain people’s, or most people’s lives look like, as many students in the FLOW district are privileged in one way or another, and don’t see these things just by looking out the window every day. Although A Raisin in the Sun represents the little I read as a freshman that was written by a minority author, English 3 offers more in the way of female written novels. For instance, Nickel and Dimed, written by a female, Barbara Ehrenreich, is about the struggles of low-income workers in the United States, and The Book of Unknown Americans, written by a Hispanic woman, Cristina Henriquez, is about a family that crossed the Mexican-US border.
“It’s nice to see the school working towards more diversity in the authors of books be-
cause I think it is important for students to read from a variety of perspectives. Especially sophomore year, considering the theme of the year is the individual and society,” says Abigail Connors, a sophomore English student. The only full-
length book sophomore honors students will read that is not written by a white male is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Gianna Cutola, another sophomore English student, expresses how she agrees that the selection should be more diverse; however, “it’s important that we read the classics as well.” There simply needs to be more of a balance.
The problem is even bigger than just high schools. There is a lack of minority author representation in the literary world. Sunili Govinnage, of The Washington Post, wrote about her experience as she attempted to spend the entirety of 2014 reading only books by minority authors. She expressed the struggles of the experience, as only three of the twenty best selling books of 2014, as listed by Amazon, were written by nonwhite authors. In addition, only “three out of the 124 authors who appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list in 2012 were people of color” (Washington Post).
Now why is this all important? Because as a society we need more exposure. We need to be more open to hearing points of view from people who are not like us. Who are different with different perspectives. This makes us not only stronger readers but stronger more empathetic people, and a more compassionate generation.
Because minorities is such a strange term. These groups of people are not a minority, they are a majority. And we need to reveal them and their stories, in school, and all over the world. And then maybe more than three out of 124 nonwhite authors will be bestsellers.
A Raisin in the Sun by
Photo Credit: Amazon
Nickel and Dimed by
Photo Credit: Amazon