Lecture: An Indigenous Critique of Whiteness in Children’s Literature

Debbie Reese


Thank you, to all of the people who are here, and to the Ho-Chunk Nation, and to the committee that selected me and the community that helped get me here. I’m nervous. It is a huge honor and I acknowledge that honor. I hope that what I say delivers for all of you because I do think it is important to talk about Whiteness in children’s literature. I talk a lot about good books but it is equally important that we talk about the bad books because there’s way more bad books in children’s literature and we need those to be moved aside so people can say, “oh, this is actual Indigenous story.” There are many stories Native writers tell about being out and hearing people say, “but that’s not Native.” The stories they present are seen as not Native because they don’t match the expectations of Indians sitting around a campfire telling stories. So, I’m going to talk about Whiteness in Children’s Literature, tonight. I also want to say the Diversity Jedi are here, so we have to applaud for them.

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