The Pervasive Whiteness of Children’s Literature

Social Theory and Practice 42 (2):367-388 (2016)

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that the pervasive whiteness of children’s literature contributes to the cultivation of racial biases and stereotypes while impeding the cultivation of compassion toward others. Furthermore, it makes many of the valuable goods associated with literature less accessible to children of color than to white children. Therefore, when possible, consumers have a moral obligation to purchase books that include multidimensional characters of color, and act wrongly when they purchase only books that do not. I respond to the objection that because pervasive whiteness of children’s literature is a collective problem that produces collective harm, consumers are not blameworthy for their individual purchases.

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Brynn Welch
University of Alabama, Birmingham

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