24th December 2020   •   opinion
Diversity matters in Christmas books too, because most Christians aren't white

Image: Raj Khaira
by Raj Kaur Khaira

You might wonder why ‘diversity’ matters in Christmas books; why it is important to have characters that aren’t white in children's books about Christmas?

You might think Christmas is a Christian celebration, and that Christians are mainly white people, so making a fuss about Black or Asian characters in Christmas books seems a bit unnecessary. I thought this once too. And then I realised how wrong I was.

It is simply not true that Christians are mainly white people. 80% of Christians around the world are not white. But publishers, authors and children’s illustrators fail to accurately reflect the ethnic makeup of Christians.

Two new reports recently revealed that the number of children’s books featuring a Black, Asian or ethnic minority character is 10%, up from 7% in 2018.

A lot of what I came to believe about myself and the world around me came from the media I consumed and the things I was exposed to at school.

When you grow up seeing one religion dominate in this way, and seeing that same religion be depicted consistently as by and for white people, it reinforces the message you hear again and again; that white is right & white is best.

This is perhaps one of the many reasons why young children struggle to imagine figures other than cis-white men in positions of a power and as examples of success. We know representation matters.

So remember, the next time you see a South Asian Santa, or a Black Mrs Claus; this isn’t political correctness, or a publisher trying to appeal to a new audience by being ‘woke’, this is in fact a much more likely representation of the Christmas family than any other.

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Raj Kaur Khaira is a lawyer, activist and author. She also founded the Pink Ladoo project.
She is the author of The Night the Reindeer Saved Christmas.
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