What were you doing at 11 years old? Probably not setting up a book drive that fights racism in literature like Philadelphia native Marley Dias.  

After noticing the lack of Black girls in the books she read for class, Dias decided to start a book drive where people could donate books that featured stories with Black girls as the main characters.

Dias’ book drive is a part of the GrassRoots Community Foundation Super Camp, which was created by Dias’ mother and Tariq Trotter. This organization aims to inspire the lives of young elementary and middle school girls. Her goal for the book drive is 1000 books by February, and she’s halfway there.  Once the drive is over, Dias plans to donate all the books to a library in Jamaica.

In the future, Dias wants to be the editor of her own magazine. She already is making the steps toward having a successful and meaningful career. At 11, she’s aware of the racism plaguing the publishing industry.

Like the television and movies, the publishing industry does not represent Black girls or other people of color in positive and diverse ways. The whitewashing in this industry extends beyond not having people of color as characters.  In 2012 white men wrote 88% of the book reviews.  In 2013, only about 2% of the books were about Black characters. Then if there are people of color in the books, the publishers attempt to whitewash people of color on the covers.

However, Dias is making it a little easier for other Black girls searching for a character that is just like them. Her project #1000BlackGirlBooks is a positive step toward young Black girls seeing and experiencing their lives in books.  Dias unapologetically challenging the racism in the publishing industry—and she’s only 11.


(Photo: Twitter picture of Marley Dias posing for picture taken by Phillyvoice. )