11 Year Old Girl Launches #1000BlackGirlBooks Campaign To Promote Diverse Voices In Literature

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Ladies and gents, meet the future president of the United States: Marley Dias. Right now, she is only 11 years old, but what she has accomplished in her life already puts us to shame!

The Philadelphia native has started a campaign that has gone viral in the media, and it’s all in the name of female empowerment and diversity. She launched a book club called #1000blackgirlbooks out of frustration with the list of books she and others were made to read at school. Marley told her mother specifically why she was annoyed.

“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” she said, pointing to books such as ‘Where the Red Fern Grows‘ and the ‘Shiloh’ series. When her mom asked her what she was going to do about it, her response showed what a motivated and determined young woman she is.

“I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters,” she said.

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She set herself a goal of finding 1000 books with this criteria by February 1st, and so far she has found 400. Amazing! If you are wondering where she gets her social activism from, it’s her mother Janice, who is the co-founder of a Philly-based organization called GrassROOTS Community Foundation.

The organization helps impoverished young girls improve their health and get empowered with community initiatives that help them actively engage in the world and use their voice. Marley’s mission to find books that give more visibility to young black girls fits right in line with what the GRCF does.

Her mother told the Philly Voice that watching her daughter grow up so motivated by social action was “surreal” and that she learned something very important from the campaign which she didn’t know about growing up in Jamaica.

“I didn’t need identification, or I didn’t desire it because I grew up in an all-black country. She’s not growing up in an all-black country; she’s growing up in a fairly white suburb, in a country that only has 12.6 percent of blacks,” she said, pointing out why the #1000blackgirlbooks is more than just a cute idea.

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“For her, identification is a bigger deal. … For young black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them — to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they have or their friends have. And it doesn’t have to be the only thing they get, but the absence of it is clearly quite noticeable,” she continued.

It’s something that is evident on a much larger cultural level with all the conversations and controversies currently surrounding race in America today. The long list of black men and women being killed by police, the #OscarsSoWhite issue, the angst toward the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and even the examination of how black women’s voices fit alongside white women in the feminist movement, shows these movements are as important as the Civil Rights Movement.

For young girls of color, not just black girl, to grow up seeing themselves represented in vital parts of public life such as leadership positions, government, decision-makers and lead characters in books and movies affects them subconsciously and can have a marked impact on how they live their lives.

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Not too long ago we shared the story of another young black girl who wanted to see herself and others like her as heroic, so she created ‘The Adventures of Moxie Girl‘. Seven year old Natalie McGriff from Florida always felt insecure about her hair so she decided to subvert the slew of messages aimed at women and girls, constantly telling them happiness comes from changing your appearance, by telling other young black girls their hair is their source of empowerment.

That’s what Marley Dias’ campaign is also going to do – empower other girls to know their value, place and voice in the world.

Once they have collected 1000 books, Marley and her mom will host a book festival on Feb 13th at a primary school in St. Mary, Jamaica, where Janice grew up. Her other social activism activities include serving food to orphans in Ghana, and successfully writing a proposal for a Disney Friends for Change grant, according to the Philly Voice. More than anything, Marley wants to encourage other girls to be agents of change in the world.

“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well. I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects — and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore,” she said.

To find out how you can donate to Marley’s book collection visit the GrassROOTS Community Foundation website.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: #1000BlackGirlBooks Founder Marley Dias Is Publishing An Activist Book For Teens & Children - GirlTalkHQ

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