Back in 2007, I read Anansi Boys for a NPR book club. It is now one of the only books that I don't own by Neil Gaiman. Why? I am waiting to meet him so I can have him sign it and I can tell him how great it was, and to remind him that I was lucky enough to ask him a question on that very NPR radio show.
One of the topics that came up during the book club discussion was race. Throughout the book, you could get a sense of the race of the characters, but then we weren't sure if it wasn't told to us. In a lot of books we read, the default race is white. However, when you read Anansi Boys, the default race is black.
As I read the book, I had to remind myself when picturing the characters that they weren't white. It is hard for me to admit this, but it is true. Why does my mind automatically assume when I meet a new character that they are white unless otherwise indicated by their name, description, or origin? It made me realize that maybe I need to expand what I read, or is it that I am not finding more books like this to read? And why? (Keep in mind, too, that I read a lot of MG/YA genre books).
This thought process led to another reason why I felt KIN needed to be written. And, also, that publishing companies like Tu Books needs to be created. We need to offer diversity to readers. My hope is we don't need to go out of our way to encourage this writing, and that it will just exist someday for my own children (who won't be white) to read.